Firstly, I would like to address the underlying notions of beauty and confidence standards that Align Technology Inc. promotes. As with any physical enhancement service, money is being exchanged for alterations in physical appearance. I believe there is a social rhetoric that portrays the ability to enhance one’s appearance as liberating, such as providing one with control of how the world encounters and perceives oneself. The beauty industry is constantly implying that physical bodies need to be altered and passing it off as giving one power to fight against genetics and time. This ad suggests equates happiness with beauty, and plays with the term smiles. Smiles are evoked when one is happy or engaging in a humorous event. This ad depicts smiling as something for people with privilege. The models are white, thin, able-bodied and are showing teeth that may have cost up to $10,000. Invisalign treatments can cost around $10,000 (Invisalign). If a minimum wage in BC is $11.35, (CBC News) invisalign could cost someone around 120 working days. Consumers see this and suddenly it becomes difficult to negotiate our own values. Though we are rational agents, it is difficult to compete when images like this are shown as normal. The concept of beauty transactions can also be critiqued using the Hegelian dialectic, which offers a proposition (crooked teeth are undesirable), it’s antithesis (straight teeth are desirable) and a solution (a costly treatment).
Secondly, Invisalign has partnered with Operation Smile to donate $1 through every shared #3millionsmile hashtag on various social media platforms by stating “now more than ever, a smile is worth sharing.” Operation smile performs surgeries on children with cleft palates. This reminds me of Zizek’s speech on cultural capitalism, who suggests “it’s not just not what you are buying, it’s what you are buying into” (Rowansforclass) In this sense, surgeries to correct cleft palates would be the redemption that one buys from consuming invisalign treatment and sharing the hashtag (Rowansforclass). Some suggests that corporate social responsibility (CSR) is a “must-have” for well known companies, (Wickert, Vaccaro & Cornelissen, p. 497)
In jamming this ad, I wanted to draw attention to the two points I mentioned previously: enforcing beauty standards and cultural capitalism. The original advertisement reads “3 million patients and counting are now proudly sharing their amazing Invisalign smiles with the world.” This text suggests that there are teeth that are acceptable and teeth that are unacceptable, and only the acceptable teeth should be shown. As happiness and joy are key emotions that everyone experiences at times, this ad wants to come off as “helping people reach their happiness,” when it truly reinforces the idea that only some people should show their teeth, smile or laugh. I also wanted to specifically draw attention to the image of privilege that is shown, that subtly promotes the idea happiness is available to a select group of people. If one does not have dental insurance that would cover this treatment, many people would not be able to afford Invisalign. As such, this ad is not catered to anyone, but specifically a demographic who can afford it.
Again, to balance out the consumption aspect, Invisalign brands itself as having CSR with correcting cleft palates. By sharing the hashtag, the company is receiving free advertising and the people who share the hashtag are receiving a philanthropic identity. They are promoting a traumatic surgery
CBC News. (2017, September 15). Pay boost: B.C.’s minimum wage rises 50 cents today. Retrieved October 10, 2017, from http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/minimum-wage-in-b-c-boosted-by-50-cents-to-11-35-per-hour-1.4292028
Invisalign Cost Calculator. (n.d.). Retrieved October 10, 2017, from https://www.invisalign.ca/cost
The Hegelian Principle Helps Explain How the Powerful Got That Way. (n.d.). Retrieved October 10, 2017, from https://www.naturalnews.com/023727_power_government_butter.html
Rowansforclass. (2011, November 20). Retrieved October 10, 2017, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRvRm19UKdA
Wickert, C., Vaccaro, A., & Cornelissen, J. (2017). “buying” corporate social responsibility: Organisational identity orientation as a determinant of practice adoption. Journal of Business Ethics, 142(3), 497. doi:10.1007/s10551-015-2740-z