Body Image in Advertising

Posted on June 23, 2011


Someone once said “Outside show is a poor substitute for inner worth.”

Unfortunately the world we live in has programmed us to focus on our outer worth, since that is what we are constantly judged on. Our inner beauty has no value if our physical appearance is unattractive.

What defines beauty? If we close our eyes we would most likely see a tall, unrealistically attractive woman, who is enticingly feminine, the gentle soft curls of her hair, her slender body and her picture perfect smile, I guarantee that this image is likely to make anyone smile. When we open our eyes we see similar versions of this imagination in various young girls however, what we fail to notice is the hate, guilt and dissatisfaction that lies deep within their minds.

The definition of beauty in our society is completely indoctrinated by the media; the standards of beauty are constantly being imposed on every individual. Advertising sets an agenda to persuade us into looking our best, which is of course a body type that society considers ideal. The media uses stick thin models and unbelievably beautiful celebrities to market certain products, both of which are relatively a small minority in terms of physical appearance, however in the real world women differ from one another in a body type. Regrettably, this unrealistic appearance of women is now the standard for beauty. Every individual is measured to that, if they fail to meet that mark they are treated indifferently. This type of discrimination in the media causes a domino effect in society, the people that live within it and their self-esteem.

When I see magazine covers all that I see is them telling us how superficial beauty means success, otherwise saying that having an undesirable or fat body is unacceptable and could be a disadvantage to people. The magazines portray larger people as a minority and give them options to conform i.e. chance to lose weight within 3 weeks or change their overall appearance with make-up, so that they might be able to fit in. With the pressure to lose weight, add layers of make-up, and get painful surgeries, implies that a regular person is considered improper in society and the only way to be accepted is to change one’s appearance, to match the current standard of beauty. The magazines and the ads in my opinion are so obsessed with one dimensional beauty that they ignore moral issues and the repercussions that society faces with insecure body image. The millions, who regularly read these types of magazines, vary in terms of shape and size, when they absorb such shallow information they are bound to get self-conscious. It is impossible to ignore the constant barrage of ads that promote the “ideal” body, which in turn causes all of us to doubt ourselves and the way we look.

Advertising picks on women, men and teens that are insecure about their looks and persuades them to buy products that could correct their so called flaw. The constant pressure to be beautiful, takes a toll on peoples mind, creating a negative aspiration. Especially young girls, who tend to be really impressionable, go on extreme diet, liposuction and other unnecessary plastic surgery, eating disorders only to achieve a body image that is more an idiosyncrasy of nature than a realistic goal.

Our culture is infatuated with physical appearance because people are unhappy with the way they look. And media plays the culprit in causing this hysteria. Ads everywhere are designed to overly exaggerate the “perfect body type”, primarily to sell their products. Slimming products, clothes meant for small sized women are so much in demand these days because everyone is trying to attain that “perfect body type”. While doing so, they are unsuccessful in reaching their desired state which in turn gives them an inferiority complex. Anger, hate for themselves, depression leads to a generation of people who have fallen victim to media’s agenda. The way we view our body image has a tremendous impact on the way we feel about ourselves.

Being called fat or ugly by the media through ads, makes us lose our sense of self, many even get suicidal when diet plans don’t work, thousands have died because of slimming pills or surgeries, millions of young girls and boys are anorexic and numerous have slipped into severe depression. Such issues create a dilemma in society, I feel everyone is chasing this socially constructed idea of beauty they have lost their true worth amidst all of this.

I personally believe that advertisers should completely stop portraying beauty as being thin, tall and photoshoped flawless skin, because in real life people are not like that. To create the ideal body an individual needs to spend an incredible amount of time and money, which I think is not possible because no one these days has the time.

Media, instead of creating disillusions of beauty in society should focus on promoting people being healthy and having a good attitude, because positivity brings natural beauty.

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