Ryan Murphy, creator of Nip/Tuck, talking to Terry Gross on Fresh Air about the waning interest in Hollywood for breast implants and those "big, over-inflated, horrible lips:"
"I think that the culture has turned against that look...Plastic surgery, in its day, was sort of seen as a luxury item and a status symbol but now it's so affordable and it's so cheap and anybody can get it--you can get it at a strip mall--that it's no longer, I think, like wearing the new Chanel sweater or carrying the new Dior bag. It's taken on a different, tacky vibe."Which reminded me, for some reason, of an evening meal in the South of France, many years ago. A meal presided over by the chef de famille, a man of huge girth, entertaining his and our family. His size, I was told, corresponded to his status. Today obesity has also taken on a different vibe and is no longer seen as an indicator of wealth. Even further back in time, aristocratic Elizabethans used lead paint as a face-whitening make-up to distinguish themselves from those who had to work outdoors.
So, there's a long history of people going to extraordinary and sometimes painful lengths to differentiate themselves from the hoi polloi. Buying luxury goods may be less painful but the same principles apply. As Seth Godin says in a recent post:
"Luxury goods are needlessly expensive. By needlessly, I mean that the price is not related to performance. The price is related to scarcity, brand and storytelling. Luxury goods are organized waste. They say, 'I can afford to spend money without regard for intrinsic value.' That doesn't mean they are senseless expenditures. Sending a signal is valuable if that signal is important to you."For luxury, inaccessibility for average folk is the first ingredient for success. Lose that and you lose the whole point.