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Ad industry promotes impossible body image

» ashlie talley – atalley2@my.apsu.edu

We all know how Photoshop can transform a person from ordinary to extraordinary.

We’re all outraged by the degree to which magazines and other media outlets hide the natural appearance of their models and actresses.

It gives a false idea of beauty that is unachievable, yet highly desired by many. But do we truly understand how this one little addition to our lives affects our society as a whole?

People say advertising does nothing to alter our way of life, and it is not to be taken seriously. If this is the case, why do advertisements work? Why do clothing companies such as Abercrombie, Banana Republic and Gucci attract so much attention?

It’s not as if you’re getting your money’s worth for clothes at stores such as these. For the amount of money you spend on one shirt, these companies probably make 10 of the same shirt.

So why are these companies the standard for dressing oneself? Why do makeup companies such as Covergirl and Maybelline draw in so many women? And when you answer that question with, “Duh, I’m ugly,” ask yourself, “Well, who told you you were ugly?”

Who told you makeup is the only thing that can make you beautiful, and you are not beautiful already? And more importantly, who told society your brand of beauty was inadequate?

The most shocking evidence of marketing’s impact on our society today is the sexual nature of ad content. Our culture has grown more sexual since the introduction of sexually-based ads and the establishment of the pornography industry, respectively.

Sexuality began its presence in the ad industry with a Pearl Tobacco ad in 1871 that portrayed a naked woman on the cigarette carton and continued into the melting pot of steamy sexual advertisements we see today.

Prior to the incorporation of these marketing techniques, although many people did participate, the majority of society did not engage in what is defined as sexual immorality, and if they did, it was never talked about.

People dressed to a highly modest standard, and employed tactics that did not involve displaying their sexuality to attract the opposite gender.

Since the incorporation of marketing and the “sex sells” motto, sex has increasingly become our center of focus.

Now more than ever we’re seeing ads in fashion magazines that would’ve been confined to the pages of a pornography magazine 30 years ago. As a result, we see levels of what is defined as sexual immorality since the onset of advertising has taken a sharp incline.

The truth is, advertisements play a duel role in marketing today.

“Ads sell more than products. They sell values, they sell images, they sell concepts of love and sexuality, of success and, most importantly, of normalcy. They tell us who we are, and who we should be,” said Jean Killbourne, Ed.D, researcher of women in advertising in a documentary titled “Killing Us Softly.” The world of advertisement depicts what the marketing industry wants to be seen as perfect.

Once we have that idea in our heads, the advertisement will show us how we are not living up to that, and how the featured product can make us “work.”

So now what we have is this unachievable standard of life and beauty, and massive hordes of people who are willing to spend outrageous amounts of money to destroy themselves in the quest to become perfect.

Photoshop plays perfectly into this world. It takes women who do not meet standards and molds their images. This kind of false advertisement leads women to believe there are truly women out there who look like flawless works of art.

The result is incredibly low self-esteem in women and, in a lot of instances, men as well, who are willing to undergo any kind of procedure or buy any product to fix what they are told is wrong with them.

This tool also adds to the high percentage of eating disorders among the younger generations.

According to healthyplace.com, number one wish of girls ages 11 to 17 is to be skinny. Girls as young as five express fears of getting fat, and 80 percent of girls age 10 have already dieted to become skinnier.
These alarming statistics are merely the tip of the iceberg in this situation. We will never, as human beings, reach the level of flawlessness increasingly becoming more and more unrealistic.

Acceptance of oneself is the only way to gain a comfort with one’s body and we cannot continue to compare ourselves to these ridiculous standards of perfection. TAS

About Aaliyah Mitchell

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