“What you call ‘love’ was invented by guys like me.
To sell Nylons.”

– Don Draper

I’ve been thinking about brainwashing and beauty.
I’ve realized two major things:

1. I am brainwashed in regards to how I actually look.

2. I can be free if I am willing to follow 3 simple steps and give up one major safety net.


What is Brainwashing?

In the late 1950s, psychologist Robert Jay Lifton studied former prisoners of Korean War and Chinese War camps. He determined that they’d undergone a multistep process that began with attacks on the prisoner’s sense of self and ended with what appeared to be a change in beliefs. Lifton ultimately defined a set of steps involved in the brainwashing cases he studied.

We can divide this process of brainwashing into three main stages:
1. breaking down the self
2. introducing the possibility of salvation
3. rebuilding the self

Brainwashing takes place in isolation – meaning all “normal” social reference points are unavailable. Mind-clouding techniques like sleep deprivation and malnutrition were typically part of the process as well. <<<<<<< THIS is the part that blew my mind. Stay with me.

In regards to our own beauty and worth – From before we knew what was happening:

1. Our sense of self was broken down. You were told you were too skinny, too fat, too short, too tall, too dark, too pale, too ________ (fill in the blank).

Then, over time:

2. You discovered someone or something with the promise to help save you from your ugly.  (Magazine articles, Pinterest boards, a manipulative friend, Marketing for skincare, etc.)


3. You acknowledged your ugliness/faults as the bad parts of you and purchased/chased the ongoing help you need so you could be good enough and pretty enough and have people like you.


We have been brainwashed.

All of us.

And because so many of us have been brainwashed, there is no “normal” social reference point. None of us can see the truth.  We are isolated as one group.  We all know we are sleep deprived AND we are just cracking the surface of how malnourished we are as a country.

We are all isolated.

We are all sleep deprived.

We are all malnourished.


We are all brainwashed.


We have never been free to form our own, positive self-images without comparison – not just to a few other people in our small town (as could be manageable), but to 1,000s of people every single day who ALL look different from us and who we are taught ARE BETTER and more beautiful and desirable than us (so we better get help!).

Pause and note: This is not just a character issue where we learn not to compare ourselves to others and now walk with heads held high.  This is an issue of ongoing brainwashing and psychological fog created by isolation, sleep-deprivation, and malnutrition as an excellent mind-fog base for all of the pictures and advertisements we see all day, every day.  We are prisoners. We have been since we were children.

Most critical to the concept of freedom is how the beauty standard is imposed upon children, especially young girls. As one psychologist puts it: “the current aesthetic model for women, characterised by skinniness, is internalised early on, before the age of 10, and remains throughout adolescence.” Since children are below the age of responsible choice, freedom is entirely undercut, directing them to a series of potentially life long social and personal disorders and harms.

“What you call ‘love’ was invented by guys like me. To sell Nylons.”
– Don Draper

has become

What we call “beautiful and sexy” was invented by guys with cameras and money.
To sell everything.


We’ve been brainwashed into believing that anything Good and Beautiful and Positive about us… is a lie.  Our worth is tied to our beauty and sexiness – take those away and we feel like the walking dead.

The message is: You are no good — you may be salvageable, but just barely.



The only way we will continue to choose to remain in this machine of industry is to believe we MUST to survive. So, the brainwashing continues and we buy in out of fear and confusion.


Here’s how it goes:

First, we were broken down; by others brainwashed before us and people hoping to use us for their gain.  We learn or adopt poor sleep and eating habits.

We are shown picture after picture of the people who look different than us. We are told over and over again that THEY look the right way. This is beautiful and this is obviously different from the way you look. (It doesn’t matter how you look, the brainwashing occurs the same way – you can be skinny or tall or dark-skinned or light… the messages just make sure you know you are NOT right. Piece by piece, our identity is isolated and corrupted. We are broken down into tiny parts and each part is proven to be wrong in some way or another.

Then, comes the chance to be acceptable. We are told there might be a couple parts of us that are worth “highlighting” in order to distract others from the hideous and ugly parts of us. If we “play up” some parts then they won’t notice the rest that is so so so NOT ok. “Fix what can be fixed.” In this situation, it might be your eyes, your smile, your butt. You learn that there might be elements of your body that are acceptable if you work hard enough and pay enough attention and money.

Finally, you rebuild your Self. It takes absolute constant work, according to the powers-in-charge. Constant money. Constant education. Constant attention. Moment by moment, store by store, workout by workout, by skin care review and by magazine article… for the rest of your life.

This is how you will make it acceptable for you to walk the earth.

Otherwise, you will be banished to the land of the invisible uglies. You will be an invisible ugly. People will cringe at the site of you – at worst – or ignore your existence – at best.


This is ridiculous. This is absurd. At times we can see that, but then the triggers come and we are right back into our brainwashed “truth”.  What do we do? How do we find freedom when the messages keep coming from not just advertisements themselves but our brainwashed family and friends??

The problem here is that with ALL of us brainwashed, you really WILL be cringed at or ignored by most of people if you do not devote your life to “looking your best”. Many many many movies and TV shows involve at least some kind of joke based on how “wrong” or “cringe-worthy” someone else looks. I have heard preachers make jokes at other bodies’ appearances just as often as 5th graders on the playground.

How often I have decided to put on a little makeup so people don’t have to see me “like this.” As if I cause physical pain to them with the way I look.

See, the problem is that I do.

When I don’t look great, when I have dark circles and my pants squeeze my middle, it causes you pain. You have been taught to HATE certain attributes in people. I have too.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can choose to believe something different than a Victoria’s Secret add or google search on “beautiful people”. Those people are beautiful too, but so are you.

Here’s the rub: Our definition of beautiful is tied into not only our self-image but our image of other people as well. We have to be willing to define our own selves as beautiful while giving up all the cheap jokes about other people’s bodies too. No more easy humor at someone else’s expense.

And this is where we will lose, I fear. It’s just too insidiously fun to mock people based on the size of their thighs or their outfit at Walmart. It’s such a great way to feel better about yourself, finding something in someone else that is ugly. We are addicts to the dopamine hit. “It’s just a joke and I need a laugh.” “My life sucks and I need to find laughter somewhere, so let me make fun of that guy’s stupid face or hairy back” … “let me whisper to my friend about that girl’s cellulite showing through her stretch pants.”

But we pay for this hit of laughter with a self-loathing we cannot name or release. We pay for the bullying with a warped picture of ourselves that we will never erase.

So, we accept the brainwashing. We keep buying and perfecting and settling for only pieces of ourselves being acceptable. Then we only need to believe pieces of others are acceptable too and we can make fun of the rest. If I was to believe that I am “all beautiful” then I have to believe that others are all beautiful too.

This train of thought is sooooo dangerous and so frustrating because

People will make bad BAD wardrobe choices. People will NOT take good care of their bodies. And you WILL want to MOCK them.  I cannot google People at Walmart without laughing at the absurdity of people’s choices. I cannot.

Walmart People 2

So, where is the line between the brainwashing that taught me I am wrong and need fixing AND making just really bad choices with our bodies or clothes???

I do not claim to know a black and white answer to that question. But what I am sure of is that I need to rebuild my love for myself and my love for others, no matter what they look like.  Then, we can focus on the proper care and feeding of a human.

Even this beautiful person… shopping for a phone in her bathing suit.


I think it’s the only way to break my brainwashing.  No more mocking others as a safety net under my own self-image tightrope walk.


I have to rebuild on the fact of HUMAN BEAUTY. Beauty that like gravity is undebatable and true for all people everywhere. If I love them, they become beautiful. It is in hatred and mocking that I find people ugly. Real love sees beauty.

I may still laugh with confusion at the choices people make. I may still wonder, WHY GOD WHY???

But I will no longer accept the story that I need to be fixed by some outside force. My beauty is undebatable – sewn into my cells when they first started multiplying.  And yours is too, my friend. Yours is too. Even if you wear your bathing suit to Walmart…. I may laugh, but I will still find you beautiful.


The three rules we can focus on in order to defend ourselves from brainwashing:

1. Come out of isolation. Find others who are free. Read God’s truth about YOU. Here and Here and Here. 

2. Sleep. You are allowed to rest and be still.

3. Eat well. Pretend you are your own parent. Take good care of you. “Take Care of You.”