Looking for the link between commercials, culture and health

TRU prof discusses the importance of health and how pop culture can influence our well being

Tracy Penny Light speaks at the 2018 PHP Conference on Saturday night. (Justin Moore/The Omega)

Conversations about health, stigma, popular culture and diversity were at the centerfold of the final keynote of TRU’s PHP Conference on Saturday night. Tracy Penny Light, a professor of studies such as gender, sexual identity and history, took to the podium to discuss the importance and presence of health in our culture today, as well as its evolving history and growing relationship with pop culture.

Students and faculty alike laughed as Penny Light flipped through slides of vintage advertisements featuring cigarettes promoted by doctors and feel good Coca-Cola ads. She spoke of the evolution of consumeristic targeting, how ads have changed the way we perceive products with ties to health and well-being. Ads such as toothpaste recommended by dentists are commonplace features in our society, but rarely do we think about the impacts these commercials make on our lives.

“We really all need to think critically and do some research about what we see,” Penny Light stated after her talk. “We’re all surrounded by culture. We live in it.”

With her students’ questions largely inspiring her research and continuing study on these different topics, Penny Light stated that students have a huge role the continuing critiques when it comes to conversations such as medical care, sexual identity and diversity within the world.

“The students ask such amazing questions and that’s because they come from all different perspectives,” Penny Light said.

The presence of diversity within post-secondary institutions and in communities help to drive new ideas and thoughts towards subjects such as health, Penny Light’s main topic of the evening.

“What are our shared perspectives and where do we differ and how can we have meaningful conversations about that,” she said.