Set against a beautiful background of the setting sun – amidst the sound of the waves crashing against the shore, surrounded by flowers and candles – a man going down on one knee to his sweetheart, and in his hand a beautiful diamond-encrusted engagement ring.
Now picture all of this without that diamond ring. Something simply doesn’t add up, right?
Why? Is it because we’ve all heard and come to believe, ‘A diamond is forever’?
What does this really mean?
In the literal, logical sense: a hard, bright precious stone used to make jewellery, that can endure all and last forever.
In the emotional sense: a simple stone that can last forever because it signifies your eternal, everlasting love.
So, how and when did we reach diamond = forever love? How did getting down on one knee and proposing with a diamond-encrusted ring become the norm?
About 75 years ago, in the office of a Philadelphia advertising agency, NW Ayer, copywriter Frances Gerety coined the now magical 4-word sentence, for the diamond brand DeBeers: ‘A diamond is forever’. This was a line so iconic, it not only increased sales for the brand but also got almost the entire world believing.
A proposal of love could never be complete without a diamond ring.
But as time progressed, women’s understanding and definitions of love evolved. Love now didn’t only mean love from a partner – it meant being independent and having your own voice. It meant accepting and being yourself. It meant you loving yourself.
Love now had a new form: ‘self-love’.
But how could a ‘forever diamond’ reflect it and keep up with this new form of love? The answer was simple: changing the hand it adorns.
The engagement ring is worn on the left hand, leaving the right hand bare. Why not let it signify something?
Another advertising agency, J. Walter Thompson, reminded women that they weren’t wearing anything on their right hand, and coined another iconic campaign for the same brand, DeBeers: ‘The right hand ring’.
With hard-hitting, contrasting lines like, ‘Your left hand declares your commitment. Your right hand is a declaration of independence’, the campaign told women that while their left hand said ‘we’, their right hand should say ‘me’.
Same brand. Same product. New voice. So what really sparked this change in tone? Is the new-age, self-driven, independent ‘woke’ woman inspiring advertising? Or is advertising creating a culture that she follows?
It isn’t unheard of for brands to change themselves and keep up with today’s tone and create beautiful social campaigns. Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches. P&G’s Like a Girl. AXE’s Find Your Magic are examples.
Closer home too, we see brands emerging and keeping up with the woman of today. After years of backlash against promoting colourism, Indian cosmetic beauty giant Fair & Lovely changed its very name to Glow & Lovely.
(Continue Reading Below…)
- Hi! I’m A Woman Trapped In An Ad, And I Can’t Stop Being Perfect
- Hoarding skincare while others hoarded grains: my lockdown survival saga
- Self-care for the soul: How to love yourself as much as you love your job
Despite it being the right way to go about things – it being 2022, after all – these changes still function for a simple purpose : to sell products.
This makes one wonder as we look at trends while mindlessly scrolling: Did we really do ‘self-love’ right, if not for the gram?
So I decided to mentally tick all the boxes on getting ‘self-love’ right, as advertised. After all, everybody on social media was doing it right, right from the most popular influencer to my best friend.
I witnessed the use of sheet masks and expensive skincare for that perfect poreless skin, to empower. I saw Stories of solo trips to anywhere, like Julia Roberts in Eat, Pray, Love, to discover the self. I watched women buying diamond jewellery for each professional accomplishment, because why not? All the independent women in the ads are doing it.
But while these had their own momentary highs, a feeling of even deeper confusion set in.
If self-love meant loving and accepting myself as is, I didn’t really need expensive skincare and jewellery to lead there. Finding myself was easier on a simple yoga mat on the floor at home, so how did the solo trip really help?
But would this simplistic, non-commercial version of self-love look as good and be accepted for the ‘gram?
So, the next time I get pulled into a brand’s proposition that would leave me feeling a little less empowered than before I started out, I might take a step back and ask the question:
Is this product made to help me love myself right? Or am I just buying into the idea of self-love created by a brand?
You Might Also Like
You're invited! Join the Kool Kanya women-only career Community where you can network, ask questions, share your opinions, collaborate on projects, and discover new opportunities. Join now.