There are many different ways in which advertisements have influenced us. They have changed our point of view on what clothes we should wear, what accessories we should have and what we should look like! Almost all places we go we are surrounded by advertisements in one way or another. And it’s not just the commercials on television! We can see ads posted on the internet, talked about on the radio and even mailed to us! Each year companies and marketing agencies spend a fortune to get the word out about their service or product.
Sure, some advertisements are funny and inspiring but when you portray women as objects and dictate what they should look like it’s sickening and unacceptable. Jean Kilbourne a well known author and the maker of the short film “Killing Us Softly,” argues that “advertisements give women power and image of beauty; they show how society believes women should look like. ” Depicting women as objects doesn’t only affect today’s generation, it also impacts girls entering adolescence because by viewing these ads they are being lured into changing themselves or their identity just so they can be accepted by society.
Today, almost all businesses have some sort of advertising plan to make the customers buy their product. These advertisers love a gullible audience and serve only one purpose: to capture their attention. If you pick up a fashion magazine from early 2000’s and compare it to the one published today the difference in advertising is quite noticeable. This is because of the trends that are constantly changing and the impact social media has on the younger generation. Kilbourne believes that the images and beauty displayed in advertisements are unfulfilling and short-lived.
This is certainly true because the women shown to the consumers are not at all in their real form. The images have been edited to show us what society thinks a perfect woman should look like. These advertisers show us long legged models, with a slim waist, long hair, and substantial amount of makeup as normal. A study done by Sydney University in 2008 showed that one in five teenage girls starved themselves to control their weight. It’s fair to say these advertisements have played some part in that. Girls in adolescence believe that they need to look the same as models in order to be accepted by society.
Women are also displayed as being passive. This can impact the younger generation specifically girls entering adolescence because at that age most people are gullible. By looking at these ads they are being lured into this belief that women should wear certain types of clothes, always wear makeup, and should look a certain way. Also, girls entering adolescence are exposed to this idea that men are suppose to be superior because advertisers show an example where a woman is shown in a pose where she’s weak, can’t help herself and a man is standing beside her who is tall, strong and looking down at the woman.
This exposure also increases teenage violence. It’s not only the girls that being exposed to this ideology but also the boys. Around the same age as the girls, boys also get this idea where they think they’re supposed to be more superior than a girl which leads to violence. Major social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter play a huge role in the amount of bullying and violence most of which can be traced to the need of feeling powerful. Kilbourne also points out a great factor which is important.
Kilbourne argues that men will never have any part of their body displayed and criticized on an advertisement because men are part of the society in which their bodies aren’t scrutinized and judged whereas a woman’s body is. Most advertisers select women as the primary subject of an ad because it is believed that today we live in a man’s world. It’s easy for advertisers to use women and give them this fake image of beauty in an ad rather than men because their thinking is that men are more superior. Displaying an ad where a man is treated like an object would kill the company’s business and it would be heavily criticized.
There also wouldn’t be much attraction towards the product since a man is doing a woman’s job. Jean Kilbourne, who was recently awarded “a superstar lecturer” by the Boston Globe, believes that the consumers also need to fulfill their responsibility. Our primary responsibility as the consumer is that we have to pay close attention to the product and shun the glamour. Kilbourne suggests “we should be more involved to change what moves us”. Part of that is to let the younger generation be creative, let them be themselves, let them be different, teach them not to follow the crowd.
Another way we can improve this issue is by thinking of ourselves primarily as citizens rather than consumers. Most of the ads we view, we have no clue what the agencies have put the models through. The finished product isn’t always the truth because most of it is edited and changed in some way. By thinking of ourselves as citizens, it allows us to act in a way in which we can step in and resolve or control this issue. Certain ads where women are heavily criticized, we need to focus on the product rather than the images.