'It is commonly remarked about our own time that never before in history has the promise of happiness been so great and the reality so dissapointing. Fuelled by consumerism and the power of advertising and the media, we are encouraged to think that happiness is within our grasp...Women's magazines promise happiness in the form of a cellulite-free body, great clothes and fantastic sex, all within one month.
And yet, of course these images are aspirational. If they reflected reality they would have no appeal. Who would buy these magazines if they already had great bodies, great sex and all the consumer goods they wanted? It is obvious that the lives of real people fall short of these ideals set before us. The disparity between reality and what we aspire to cannot help us feel happier, since it only serves to emphasise what is not perfect about our lives, what we don't have as opposed to what we do.
This is why the psychologist Oliver James has suggested in all seriousness that we need to severely curb the power and extent of advertising. These pages are literally damaging our mental health.'
Source: What's it all About? Philosophy and the Meaning of Life, Julian Baggini