Let the Little Girl Sing

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Global news outlets are spreading the story of the singing switcheroo at the Beijing Olympics Opening Ceremony, where pretty Lin Miaoke lip-synched the performance of cute and more musically talented Yang Peiyi.  While both little girls claim to be cool about it, (they’re seven!) bloggers are raising the flag of why beauty trumped talent, especially at a competition which is all about, well…talent.

My own thoughts flew straight back to my high school. My submission for the commencement salutatory address won the senior competition, no small feat since I graduated in a class of 1100 plus from Philly’s Cardinal Dougherty High School. But I flunked the chance to deliver it since my voice cracked with emotion, so the onstage role went to Peggy White, who’s resonant and more statesman-like voice seemed better suited to the occasion. I admit that I missed the spotlight, but at least I was acknowledged as the author. But come to think of it, what’s wrong with a little emotion at a graduation ceremony? Why do we prefer the perfection of ‘the show’ to the power of what’s real?

Doesn’t most advertising to women engage in this sideshow every day in the name of aspiration? Beautiful models pretending to be captains of industry sit at fake desks in financial services ads, while the women who really are, pony up their hard-earned dollars into the sponsor’s investment products. Skinny girls get not-so-skinny girls to buy into Bally and young flawless models bewitch their lined, older sisters to get Botox. Despite exceptions like Wachovia, Special K and Olay, agencies and marketers brave enough to cast women who look a little more like the customer, are rare.

But we are all in on this duplicity. Smart consumers choose to buy into the ‘the show’ with our eyes wide open. Unfortunately, the little girls in China didn’t get a vote.

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