Friday, March 18, 2011

Small Steps Towards Changing Ads

Advertising is unavoidable and also a bit frustrating, as we all know. From an early age we are exposed to ads but it isn’t until much later that we begin to see a pattern of women in advertising. Some choose to ignore it and some are completely oblivious to it but like Kilbourne said “women are shown almost exclusively as housewives or sex objects.” (Page 122).

Photoshop is one tool used to take all the flaws away from models but not enough people realize the extreme measures taken through Photoshop.

This photo of Madonna shows just how far the media will go to cover up all wrinkles and imperfections. From The Beauty Myth, Wolf uses quotes from many different people in the magazine industry who admit “no picture of a woman goes unretouched.” (Page 83). How then are we supposed to understand this beauty myth when many have no idea this is going on? Other countries such as France are in the process of trying to change retouching of photos. They wouldn’t ban it but just make it so that if your ads are retouched you must disclose that in the fine print. Sephora is doing an even better thing in my opinion by using ads that have not been retouched. I know I would rather buy makeup I know will work instead of just hoping that it will. Sephora claims their ad is “the first unretouched make up ad” which is a bit frightening if it is true.

Of course Photoshop is just the beginning of many problems in advertising. Amazing women who can be great role models are left out from the pages of magazines and replaced with half naked celebrities and models. One foundation that is making a difference is the candies foundation, which raises awareness about teen pregnancy. Their ads feature well known celebrities who can grab the attention of teens so they can get their message across.

Similarly Joe Chemo ads appeal to kids so they understand the affects of smoking. A magazine I admit I actually had never heard of until researching for this post called Adbusters uses spoof ads to show their anti-consumerist attitude.

I think the main thing needed to change advertising is education. Not everyone realizes how big of an issue this is. One way things are changing is by women getting together and using their knowledge for the better. An example of this is Womenkind, a marketing and communications company run by all women. They use their knowledge to help companies appeal to women. Another similar company is G23, which again consists of all women who consult with companies on how to appeal to “the female economy.” Again, there is still so much that needs to be done for things to change but I think we are moving forward. I think the more we put feminists in a position of power, the faster companies are going to realize we are not happy with current advertising. Women account of about 85% of all consumer purchases which means that if we choose to speak loud enough, eventually we will have to be heard.


  1. I agree programs that alter images have done tremendous damage tot he self-image of women, BUT only at the hands of men who continue to push the envelope with no consequences. I believe that we are beginning to see the edge of those consequences and maybe the turn around to a time when the female image will be respected for what it is and not what it "should" be.

  2. "When teenagers and women look at these pictures in magazines, they end up feeling unhappy with themselves… If people knew they had to describe what they had altered, it might make them less likely to do it. These photos can lead people to believe in realities that very often, do not exist."
    ~ Jo Swinson

    I strongly second your argument, Devon. If Photoshop images represent the ideal method of appealing to and latching onto the self-esteem of women, then society as we know will implode into one giant ball of fantasized beauty. Sure, photoshop images of women may somewhat represent that image that women may achieve, but ask yourself, is it something that they want to achieve? Honestly, if the media is telling me that perfecting myself to better suite my lifestyle is healthier and more mature for me in the long-run, then I'd rather take my chances being me with the imperfections. Great post Devon!

  3. The one good thing about it is you do not have to be instantly beautiful to be in print. That means anyone can model ;)
    Photoshop can slim you, make you 20 years younger, and change all aspects of you!
    No need to pay those models high salaries anymore. There are even programs for video to do this same thing.
    On the other hand..the minute any of the untouched people are in person..all illusions vanish.