Women In Advertising Essay, Research Paper
Perception of Women in Marketing
The American woman of today can never be too thin or too pretty. In most cases thin equals beauty, so the present ideal is a thin, fit, radiantly healthy, young woman. In magazines filled with models, on billboards, and television, the message of what women should look like is everywhere. The presence of these images in effect shapes the image of women today.
Advertising is a powerful educational force in our culture due to the simple fact of exposure. Economics is also a significant factor in the development of the ideal image. Many businesses depend upon the desire for thinness to survive. Exercise and diet companies are an example. In order to create a market for their product, they attempt to make women feel inadequate about their own bodies through advertisement.
Advertisers manipulate women into thinking their value is dependent on their physical appearance. They appeal to that basic human desire to be wanted, accepted, and sexually attractive.
One reason this ideal has manipulated the American society is that it appeals to some basic values. This country accepts things like individuality, self-help, hard work, success, and self-control. Women are given the message that if they just work hard enough at dieting and exercise, they can be thin, beautiful and happy. Women, especially, are told that their efforts in perfecting their bodies will be rewarded by success in both their professional and personal lives. If they fail at achieving the ideal, they are told to try harder. A fat person is seen as lazy or greedy or without self-control.
This manipulation of perception on what is “ideal” leads to concern in relation to the teenagers of this country. The television set has become one of the most influential technologies of all time, replacing real role models and teachers. The media teaches them what is attractive, feminine, cool, sexy, or romantic. Just by sheer exposure, the television has more effect on a child than his/her parents. Parents may provide verbal instruction and restrictions, but teenagers no longer learn primarily through verbal, but through pictures and images with great music like in Nike commercials.
The absurd thing is that the public is aware of this manipulation. They know that to be as thin as the women on TV is close to impossible, but they strive for it anyway. Only eight out of every 3 million women actually look like supermodels. In addition, the models in the magazines are airbrushed and are not perfect. The average American woman weighs 144 pounds and wears between a size 12 and 14.
Instead of marveling at the assortment of body shapes, women continually compare themselves to each other. For most women, staying thin and youthful is a competition. The cruelty is that the social requirement that we achieve the “ideal weight” is based on the presumption that we can completely control our body size, which is not true.
In conclusion, what is the result of this endeavor for perfection? “One out of every 4 college aged women has an eating disorder. A psychological study in 1995 found that 3 minutes spent looking at models in a fashion magazine caused 70% of women to feel depressed, guilty and shameful. Finally, the question remains…is this healthy? Is the current image for the “ideal woman” healthy for the women of America?
Mikki Taylor. “Images of Women in the Media.” Essence Magazine Volume 31 (2001) 40-41