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What affect does advertising of models and supermodels have on women of my generation? I should start by saying that advertisers often emphasize sexuality and the importance of physical attractiveness in an attempt to sell products, but researchers are concerned that this places undue pressure on women and men to focus on their appearance. In recent survey by Teen People magazine, 27% of the girls felt that the media pressures them to have a perfect body, and a poll conducted in 1996 by the international ad agency Saatchi and Saatchi found that ads made women fear being unattractive or old. Researchers suggest advertising media may adversely impact women's body image, which can lead to unhealthy behavior as women and girls strive for the ultra-thin body idealized by the media. Advertising images have also been recently accused of setting unrealistic ideals for males, and men and boys are beginning to risk their health to achieve the well-built media standard. In the following essay I am going to speak about the effects of advertising models/supermodels have on women in my generation. I will present various educated findings together with my personal opinion on the given matter. The Advertisement model Message The average woman sees 400 to 600 advertisements per day, and by the time she is 17 years old, she has received over 250,000 commercial messages through the media.
Only 9% of commercials have a direct statement about beauty, but many more implicitly emphasize the importance of beauty--particularly those that target women and girls. One study of Saturday morning toy commercials found that 50% of commercials aimed at girls spoke about physical attractiveness, while none of the commercials aimed at boys referred to appearance. Other studies found 50% of advertisements in teen girl magazines and 56% of television commercials aimed at female viewers used beauty as a product appeal (Jukes, 89). This constant exposure to female-oriented advertisements may influence girls to become self-conscious about their bodies and to obsess over their physical appearance as a measure of their worth. The use of models who always appear to be slimmer, taller, sexier, and more popular than other women is certainly of questionable ethics, yet what one needs to know is that the women who watch these commercials with top models do want to resemble them in everything (Knapp, 24). It should also be added that men who also watch these commercials start to express their opinion about the beauty of the top models which also causes females to do everything possible to look as the cover girls.
What is the Ideal? Thin Ideal Advertisements hire slim models and emphasize thinness as a standard for female beauty. The bodies idealized in the media are frequently atypical of normal, healthy women. In fact, today's fashion models weigh 23% less than the average female, and a young woman between the ages of 18-34 has a 7% chance of being as slim as a catwalk model and a 1% chance of being as thin as a supermodel (Jukes, 92). However, 69% of girls in one study said that magazine models influence their idea of the perfect body shape, and the pervasive acceptance of this unrealistic body type creates an impractical standard for the majority of women in the world. Some researchers believe that advertisers purposely normalize unrealistically thin bodies, in order to create an unattainable desire that can drive product consumption and thus huge profits for some industries. "The media markets desire.
And by reproducing ideals that are absurdly out of line with what real bodies really do look likethe media perpetuates a market for frustration and disappointment. Its customers will never disappear," writes Paul Hamburg, an assistant professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Considering that the diet industry alone generates $33 billion in revenue, advertisers have been successful with their marketing strategy. The Impactof Models on women Women frequently compare their bodies to those they see around them, and researchers have found that exposure to idealized body images lowers women's satisfaction with their own attractiveness. One study found that people who were shown slides of thin models had lower self-evaluations than people who had seen average and oversized models, and girls reported in a Body Image Survey that "very thin" models made them feel insecure about themselves. In a sample of Stanford undergraduate and graduate students, 68% felt worse about their own appearance after looking through women's magazines. Many health professionals are also concerned by the prevalence of distorted body image among women, which may be fostered by their constant self-comparison to extremely thin figures promoted in the media.
One should not forget that over seventy-five percent (75%) of "normal" weight women think they are overweight and 90% of women overestimate their body size and actively try to remedy the situation (Knapp, 27). This presents a great health problem for these women. It should also be noted that female and males dissatisfaction with their bodies causes many women and girls to strive for the thin ideal which is almost impossible to achieve. The number one wish for girls ages 11 to 17 is to be thinner, and girls as young as five have expressed fears of getting fat. Eighty percent (80%) of 10-year-old girls have dieted, and at any one time, 50% of American women are currently dieting. Some researchers suggest depicting thin models may lead girls into unhealthy weight-control habits, because the ideal they seek to emulate is unattainable for many and unhealthy for most. One study found that 47% of the girls were influenced by magazine pictures to want to lose weight, but only 29% were actually overweight.
Research has also found that stringent dieting to achieve an ideal figure can play a key role in triggering eating disorders. Other researchers believe depicting thin models appears not to have long-term negative effects on most adolescent women, but they do agree it affects girls who already have body-image problems. Girls who were already dissatisfied with their bodies showed more dieting, anxiety, and bulimic symptoms after prolonged exposure to fashion and advertising images in a teen girl magazine. Studies also show that a third of American women in their teens and twenties begin smoking cigarettes in order to help control their appetite. Females and body images. The majority of teenagers with eating disorders are girls (90%), but experts believe the number of boys affected is increasing and that many cases may not be reported, since males are reluctant to acknowledge any illness primarily associated with females. Studies have also found that boys, like girls, may turn to smoking to help them lose weight.
Boys ages 9 to 14 who thought they were overweight were 65% more likely to think about or try smoking than their peers, and boys who worked out every day in order to lose weight were twice as likely to experiment with tobacco. "Advertisers know what womanpower is," explains a self-promotional pitch for the Ladies' Home Journal. The ad shows a stylish woman wired to a mammoth computer that measures her whims with graphs, light bulbs and ticker tape. The magazine insists that, like the machine, it has its finger on the pulse of women's desires (Knapp, 29). Perk and breathlessness permeate its claim to be able to harness the many elements of "womanpower," including "sales power" ("She spots a bright idea in her favorite magazine, and suddenly the whole town's sold on it!"), "will power" ("Can you stick to a nine-day diet for more than four hours at a stretch?") and, of course, "purchasing power" ("Isn't it the power of her purse that's been putting fresh smiles on the faces of America's businessmen?"). In the film, "What Women Want," Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt produce a Nike commercial in which a woman runs in swooshed-up sportswear while a voice-over assures her that the road doesn't care if she's wearing makeup, and she doesn't have to feel uncomfortable if she makes more money than the road -- basically equating freedom and liberation with a pair of $150 running shoes (Perelman, 24).
The commercial in the movie is saying that women who are unhappy with the quality of their relationships can ease their frustration by literally forming a more satisfying relationship with the road. There's no hint that her human relationships are going to improve, but the road will love her anyway. It should also be noted that girls get terrible messages about sex from advertising and popular culture. An ad featuring a very young woman in tight jeans reads: "He says the first thing he noticed about you is your great personality. He lies." Girls are told that boys are out for sex at all times, and girls should always look as if they are ready to give it. (But God help them if they do.) The emphasis for girls and women is always on being desirable, not being agents of their own desire.
Girls are supposed to somehow be innocent and seductive, virginal and experienced, all at the same time. Girls are particularly targeted by the diet industry. The obsession with thinness is about cutting girls down to size, making sure theyre not too powerful in any sense of the word. One fashion ad I use in my presentations shows an extremely thin, very young Asian woman next to the copy "The more you subtract, the more you add." Adolescent girls constantly get the message that they should diminish themselves; they should be less than what they are (Shattuc, 65). Girls are told not to speak up too much, not to be too loud, not to have a hearty appetite for food or sex or anything else. Girls are literally shown being silenced in ads, often with their hands over their mouth or, as in one ad, with a turtleneck sweater pulled up over their mouth. One ad sold lipstick with a drawing of a woman's lips sucking on a pacifier.
A girl in a particularly violent entertainment ad has her lips sewn shut. Sometimes girls are told to keep quiet in other ways, by slogans like "Let your fingers do the talking" (an ad for nail polish), "Watch your mouth, young lady" (for lipstick), "Make a statement without saying a word" (for perfume), "Score high on non-verbal skills" (for a clothing store). There are also many, many ads in which women are pitted against each other for male attention. For example, there's one ad with a topless woman on a bed and the copy "What the bitch who's about to steal your man wears." Other ads feature young women fighting or glaring at each other. This means that when girls hit adolescence, at a time when they most need support from each other, they're encouraged to turn on each other in competition for men (Reichheld, 13). It's tragic, because the truth is that one of the most powerful antidotes to destructive cultural messages is close and supportive female friendships.
In conclusion I would like to note that everyone should love what they see when they look in the mirror. Nevertheless, the entertainment, cosmetic and diet industries work very hard to make females (and males, too) believe that no parts of our bodies are acceptable and certainly must be changed if she/he wants to look like a person from the ad. Print ads and commercials reduce females to body parts-lips, legs, breasts-airbrushed and touched up to meet impossible standards of the porn models. In spite of adverse health side effects, fad diet pills remain a multibillion-dollar business in the USA alone. Face lifts and breast implants are quickly becoming routine self-esteem-boosters for females who watch their counterparts on television. Is it any wonder that more than 80% of fourth grade girls have been on some form of fad diet and by the eighth grade most of these girls will be using tobacco as a diet aid? It's time to speak out against ads and images of women that are offensive, harmful, dangerous, disrespectful. References: Fox, R.F. (1996). Harvesting Minds: How TV Commercials Control Kids .
Praeger Publishing: Westport, Connecticut. Jukes, Mavis, It's a Girl Thing: How to Stay Healthy, Safe, and in Charge, McGraw Hill, 2002. Perelman, Andrew, "How to love the way you look." Teen People , October, 1999. Knapp, Caroline, Appetites: Why Women Want, Prentice Hall, 2001. Olds, T. "Barbie figure 'life-threatening'." The Body Culture Conference. VicHealth and Body Image & Health Inc. 1999. Reichheld, Frederick, The Loyalty Effect: The Hidden Force Behind Growth, Profits, and Lasting Value, NY Random House, 2000. Stephenson, Mark, "Magazine Models Impact Girls' Desire to Lose Weight, Press Release." American Academy of Pediatrics.
1999. Shattuc, Jane, The Talking Cure: TV Talk Shows and Women, Penguin books, 2001. Hamburg, P. "The media and eating disorders: who is most vulnerable?" Public Forum: Culture, Media and Eating Disorders, Harvard Medical School, 1998..
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