Saturday, March 19, 2011
'Real Women' ???
In 2010, more than 100 billion dollars were spent in advertisement, in United States alone. This gigantic financial figure reinforces the significance of this form of communication in our modern world. Consumers are constantly bombarded with all kinds of advertisements, knowingly or unknowingly; magazines, radio, television, even film. The best artists are hired and crazy amounts are spent in advertisement with a sole purpose, PROFIT! To persuade the audience to buy their products, services or ideas is their only goal. In order to succeed in a competitive market world, companies will sell more than just a product. In addition, they will sell, “…values, images and concepts of success and worth, love and sexuality, popularity and normalcy.” (Kilbourne, 121) Companies design their advertisements driven by what “sells” and thus is profitable. That is… women and sex.
In a world that is anything but perfect, perfection sells. Young, sexy, beautiful women, with gorgeous bodies, are dominant in advertising. No matter how relevant or irrelevant to the specific product they are, flawless figures (mainly women and mostly white), are the center of advertising. Take as an example this advertisement of a BMW car….Do you see any car? No….just a pretty face! The features of a beautiful woman have replaced that of a car. Absolutely irrelevant to the product (It is a car ad anyway!!!) but….relevant at the same time, because it sells. Beautiful half naked women are dominant in ads. Sexy and desirable, even when they are cleaning their bathrooms. Happy and smiling even in a hospital bed. Women with perfect makeup and hairstyles, even when they just woke up. As Kilbourne states, “She has no lines or wrinkles (which would indicate she had the bad taste and poor judgment to grow older), no scars or blemishes- indeed, she has no pores.” (Kilbourne, 122) Responsible for this picture perfect woman is of course, a product. We should thank the product for the desirable sexy look, even when the product is a bathroom detergent, a beer or dog food!!! “How could it be otherwise? The solution to any problem always has to be a product.” (Kilbourne, 153)
Based on people’s insecurities and individual fears, advertisers create their work to emphasize and remind us, how far away we are from being more desirable and what do we need in order to succeed. Commercials are not left to chance they are well planned and designed with a specific target.
Each one of us. For all our perceived flaws, they have the solution. For all our problems they have the solution. Artificial solutions that might create additional problems even increase our insecurities. All these products that we usually do not need demonstrate how we should look and point out what we must have in order to reach the ideal. This unrealistic portrayal of women is not only totally deceptive, but also unattainable. We only have to look around us. There are millions of women, all unique, all different. How many of us are actually tall and super thin with gorgeous bodies and a ‘drop-dead’ flawless look? Real women do not look like this. “Even the models themselves do not look in the flesh as impeccable as they are depicted in ads.” (Cortese, 54) We consume our time our lives, money, our inner-self, our well-being trying to be something we are not. “…we have become alienated from our own bodies.” (Douglas, 11) We are brainwashed from a young age to look like ‘women in the cover of magazines’ while our self esteem and confidence is being dropped to zero.
This ill of our society that all we value is beauty, more than brain or personality, has been embedded in our societal structure and it is unarguably difficult to change. It is crucial to raise awareness (especially through school…) and deconstruct these images that are not only harmful for women, but also men. There are some exceptions in advertising, but unfortunately they are just that; exceptions and not the rule. Like the Dove campaign, ‘A real Beauty.’
Or the United Colors of Benetton ads, that they are conveying a different message. Portraying real women, with healthier looks and actually dressed (especially if clothes are what they are advertising).
More ‘accurate’ female representation is a step towards a better advertisement. By presenting more realistic figures, ‘everyday women,' with a more natural look, they can help women identify with and ultimately buy the product. Since women do age and do have wrinkles and do have full figures...why not show them? But also … Women are more than body. An innovative advertisement can intrigue consumers. Fresh, diverse, clever, entertaining ideas in advertisement can work. Life is too short and we should not spend it in pursuit of unrealistic improvement. We are smarter than that…. Aren’t we?
Images taken from