Everywhere you look, advertisements show beautiful men and women with perfect teeth, bodies, skin and hair. Jean Kilbourne, producer of “Killing Us Softly,” states, “The average American is exposed to over 3,000 ads every single day.” This type of exposure to advertisements can carry a hard effect among young girls starting to develop into young women.
Yet, young women are not the only ones who are affected and pressured by advertisements. Rance Crain, former senior editor of “Advertising Age,” said, “Only eight percent of an ad’s message is received by the conscious mind. The rest is worked and reworked deep within the recesses of the brain.” Everyone is being exposed to advertisements where beautiful people with wonderful lives are natural and normal, whether you consciously know it or not.
The expectation placed upon women to appear as the models in advertisements, which have been digitally transformed to appear the way they do, is causing a larger number of women to hate their bodies. Because they will never look the way these females do in ads, real women are setting themselves up for failure and an unrealistic image to try to imitate. Even the models themselves do not look the way the pictures are airbrushed and photoshopped. Advertisements are transmitting a message that women will always be ugly unless they buy the particular product.
Young girls starting their transformations into womanhood are especially susceptible to these advertisements. With puberty, girls begin to notice others’ bodies, and will strive to look like someone else rather than seeing their own worth. By seeing advertisements where only beautiful women, who are in size 00 jeans, straddle attractive men, sends the message that only good-looking people have the opportunity to love.
Men are also affected with how women are portrayed in advertisements. From constantly seeing unnatural women in the television screen and in magazines, men come to expect their partners to be as slim and beautiful as the models. Because a real woman cannot reach those ideal goals, she feels dissatisfied with herself. Encouraging studies show that men are actually more drawn towards more realistic curves because it indicates a woman is healthier and, from a biological viewpoint, more fertile. The amount of calories some of those famous models are eating may not be enough to sustain a nutritious diet and can cause bone density loss and osteoporosis in old age.
This lack of self-esteem is causing an exponential amount of eating disorders in America. The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders states, “Up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder.” The pressure for college women to appear perfectly skinny has also taken notice. In fact, ANAD states, “Ninety-one percent of women surveyed on a college campus had attempted to control their weight through dieting. Twenty-two percent dieted ‘often’ or ‘always’.”
The American media and their pressures through advertisements correlate to the high amount of women and men with poor body image. If a woman does not respect and love her body for the way it was made, she will always struggle with the constant need to lose weight or even result in an eating disorder, such as binge eating, bulimia or anorexia.
Americans obsess with the idea of a perfect body. Women are constantly feeling that they are too large, their breasts are too small or their face has too many wrinkles. Unconsciously, we are affected with the way advertisements demand the ideal woman. Women must recognize that these models are digitally enhanced to please the eye. No real woman will ever achieve pure perfection. By loving the way your body was naturally made, society will slowly correct the stereotype of fake perfectionism.
— Samantha Trueheart is a sophomore in communications. She can be reached at email@example.com.