Building on the work of depth psychologists like Carl Jung, [psychologist Jordan] Peterson argues that well-functioning human adult beings must hold themselves accountable to objective moral standards. They ask difficult questions of themselves that demand clear responses. What constitutes a healthy and attractive body? What does it mean to be financially secure? Why doesn’t Sarah want to go out with me?
The feeling of shame is a natural response to falling short of a standard that we reflectively endorse. While some of these standards might genuinely be irrational or unhealthy (the heroin chic trend in the 90s comes to mind), for the most part, it is not our ideals that are in error. Advertisements are effective often because they remind us of how we’re genuinely falling short of our ideal selves. To ban them outright would therefore be to admit that we cannot cope with acknowledging our imperfections. It would be to abdicate one of the many challenges of adulthood: being able to calmly assess and act upon our own shortcomings, while side-stepping the abyss of an irrational shame-spiral.