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Product preview a family Review by Angel Perkins

February 29, 2012

Recently the Advance News and The Bremen Enquirer (on Thursdays), and the Pilot News (Mondays on page 4) began a feature titled “New to You Product Preview.” Each week the column offers a handful of opinions from five women that actually tried out the products focused on, that perhaps others are wary of purchasing or haven’t yet heard of.
With advertisers shouting out why we should purchase their product at each television series break, choosing can be often confusing if not overwhelming. And with all the choices on retailers’ shelves, I know if I don’t stay alert, I can be ensnared for long stretches of time feeling uncertain and uneducated, trying to decide which to purchase. Toothpaste and hair products are the worst for me.
I’ve learned to force myself to make a game of it, and purchase only what I have a coupon for. If I have more than one coupon for two different brands, I choose the one that is the best bargain. If I forget my coupons I choose the one that has the most content, which makes the most promises and bears the lowest price.
If there are two more that fit all those requirements ... well ... it isn’t pretty.
“Whitens plus freshens? No. Baking soda? Hmm. The one with Peroxide? Enamel safe... that sounds important. But this one has mouthwash in it. Nope. This one says it fights cavities and this one says it is ‘complete,’ implying it does everything ... but does it have breath crystals? Does it eliminate plaque?”
In the hair aisle, I search the descriptions: “For colored hair, for thin, for thick, for curls, for straight, for limp, for frizzy, for the love of God!”
When you finally choose a shampoo and hope to find its accompanying conditioner, then you have to decide: “Hair spray? Scrunch spray? Which hold? Which brand? Maybe a gel instead ... or a mousse? No. Silk drops? Balm? Goo?” It’s enough to make a girl run for the hair scrunchies to just stuff her tresses into a ponytail or bun.
The food and drug administration really should draw some lines as to how many brands are allowed to be sold or how many types each brand can slap their name on. But perhaps they are just as confused by the product claims that only a entire  school corporation’s children could test through as their science projects.
I’ve found it is the nature of women to seek information from others before deciding whether or not to purchase an item. Is it because we want to prove the product will be successful with us when it wasn’t with them? Is it because we want to save a dime in case the overall consensus is that the product is junk? Is it for a secret subconscious pre-approval that we are making the right choice?
For me and a few of the women in my family, it is definitely to get a referral. My mother, aunt, daughter and sister-in-law are all completely different women, raised in different decades, that accentuate each other as much as we have nothing in common. We come from different backgrounds, religions (or lack thereof), and have opposing tastes and appetites. We manage and live our lives within different income ranges and in different towns. We watch different shows, read different books, shop different stores and we disagree as often as we agree and like as often as we dislike.
We all share the same will to be our own women. We are honest, open, love to laugh, love our families and we want to do the right thing, even if that means sacrificing of ourselves. For the public, we’ve offered to do just that, to sacrifice our pocketbooks to purchase things we’ve been tempted to in the past just to see if it really does what all it claims to — and then share it with the tiny worlds we live in.
What woman doesn’t have an-almost-untouched bottle of something “revolutionary” or “new and improved” or “as seen on TV” buried shamefully in the back of some cabinet? What gaggle of girls hasn’t given an opinion about one thing or the other? We have all done it regarding a particular person, movie, celebrity, or food — and often we don’t even realize we’re doing it.
Just eavesdrop on one conversation with more than two women.
“Did you hear about Sherry? Yes, she’s a mess. No, she’s just going through a hard time. Success is so hard! It wouldn’t be hard for me. Did you see that tattoo? I know right? I loved it. I though it was a little much. Maybe if it was somewhere less noticeable. Love that dress. I saw one like it at Dress Barn. Really how much? Thirty dollars. Wow! That’s a steal. Are you kidding? I could get that and a matching pair of shoes at Burlington for $25. Did you hear that Kohl’s is having a BOGO sale through Saturday? Was there yesterday and got a better deal at Macy’s.”
With women it’s: “I saw, I heard, I found, I liked...” We are all opinionated divas about one thing or other.   
The women in the newspapers’ feature all want to believe all the claims and we want the easiest, brightest, strongest, best and cheapest of every product we see falling from the shelves of our favorite stores so that we can be the thinnest, tallest, youngest, loveliest, frugal-est, smartest women we can be. And when we share the findings of what we thought would fill those requirements, we laugh like fools — at ourselves and each other.
Because my entire entourage of women lives in either St. Joseph or Elkhart County, I go to them and try in one day to visit as many of them as I can — the newspaper’s feature not including my gran and BFFs because my family matron believes the world has become — in a word — ridiculous, and because my friends would agree with me even if they secretly didn’t, because ... they are my peeps.
I chose for the task of testing products and sharing opinions those that have the strongest views and who dare to believe that the next thing out there will be better than the last. We don’t always agree, which offers my fairer readers a diverse view — to offer a tiny taste of what they might be in for.
A couple things we will always see the same way? That’s easy. Chocolate, money, and George Clooney.

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