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Even the Bubbles are Pink

I’ve been thinking about my shampoo.
It’s not really even my shampoo. My mother gave it to me because it makes her scalp itch. So I tried it out and my scalp seems fine. Whether or not it’s given me super-model hair…you can be the judge of that.
What’s particularly interesting about this shampoo is how it’s packaged. It’s in a pearlescent pink plastic bottle with a long neck. It’s an unusual shape for a shampoo bottle. Then, the first time I put some shampoo in my hand, I saw the other design innovation: The shampoo matches the bottle! It is the same pearlescent pink. It’s quite lovely.
But my first thought wasn’t whether the company has won product design awards for their matching bottle and shampoo. That only occurred to me this morning. What I’ve been thinking about every time I squeeze the shampoo into my hand is, “Why?” Why do we even have pearlescent pink shampoo in a matching bottle? Is this a great advance of civilization, or is it evidence of our complete corruption?
There is a long path back from my shower to the birth of this shampoo. Perhaps it started in an office; maybe a marketing person thought it up. Or perhaps someone in their laboratory one day thought to add something to normal old shampoo and found that it gave the shampoo a pearlescent sheen.
The path of waste is long. That we put so much money and energy into designing prettier and better-smelling shampoos when people in the world are starving is bad enough. But even if we were going to restrict our sights to our own country, couldn’t we find better ways to employ people? Is it really improving our quality of life to have a shampoo that matches its pearly pink bottle?
What if we only had four shampoos to choose from? With so much time, energy, creativity, and money saved, what else could we do? Did the person in that lab who figured out how to make the pearlescent pink shampoo use his or her brains in the best way? Wouldn’t it be better for someone with those talents to, let’s say, improve the taste of the worst kids’ medicines? Like many kids with asthma, my kids have both had to be on prednisone. I have to tell you, if someone asked me would I rather have the most beautiful shampoo in the world, or would I rather my kids not have to gag that stuff down so that their lungs won’t seize up and they’d end up in the hospital?
Just thinking about this, that’s all. I have been to formerly and presently communist countries, and I know that stifling competition doesn’t work. While the Russians had their three cars to choose from, the Japanese were competing to create innovative new designs that we all take for granted now. In some places, people with food allergies don’t get to choose products made in wheat-free facilities…they don’t get to choose anything. One brand of pickles. One type of sanitary napkins. This isn’t what I’m asking for.
What I’m wondering is how pearlescent pink shampoo reflects our society’s values. In a country where some kids don’t get proper dental care, where some elderly people don’t have enough to eat and heat for their homes, where there’s so much unhappiness and confusion, do we need pearlescent pink shampoo that matches its bottle?
I’ve noticed that a lot of our cultural attributes are being questioned in this time of economic uncertainty. It’s about time we all really sit back and think about what we need, and about what other people need. What we are doing to help things along.
Lots of people in our area think that we can affect world events by sending out our thoughts, so I’m going to try to get a direct line to that guy (or gal) who invented my shampoo: You’re obviously talented and appreciate the importance of aesthetics. You did a great job with the shampoo. Now can you look around and find a real problem to solve? Think about it. Think hard.

Posted in Culture.

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