I Hate Your Image (A Ramble)

I’ve been car shopping lately, and one of the vehicles I’m looking at is a Subaru. Upon hearing this, a friend mentioned that Subaru has an image of building cars for lesbians.

I wasn’t sure what to make of that. What does it mean when a heterosexual male is attracted to a lesbian car? I tried to figure that out but gave up after getting stuck in a loop.

The whole idea of attaching an image to a car – or really any product – seems silly, yet a product’s image often decides whether we buy it. We choose clothes, food, music, operating systems, and even political candidates based on how they make us feel about ourselves and how we want others to feel about us. I’d argue that some people have no personality of their own and are instead the sum total of the products they buy.

Sometimes negative images work, too. I was surprised when an “anti-aging boutique” named Snooty opened near me. The name “Snooty” seems completely off-putting, but apparently a lot of people like the store’s image. I imagine their spouses shop at a store named “Overpaid Asshat.”

I like to pretend I’m above letting a product’s image affect me, but I know I’m not. I’m one of those annoying people who shuns something just because it’s popular so I favor products with an underdog image. My son says that makes me a hipster but I know that isn’t true because I can’t wear flannel without humming The Lumberjack Song.

Over the years I’ve named three products and I only consciously thought of image with one of them. That was FeedDemon, whose name was a play on “speed demon” – I wanted everyone to think it was fast. A lot of customers liked the name, but some people avoided it because it had an image of being demonic (although in fairness, I’m sure I chose that name in part due to my ill-begotten metalhead youth).