Exposed: Women in Advertising

The Media's Impact

    Advertisers have always portrayed women as weak, dependent, sex objects, and homemakers. Even though, research states that we are moving away from those stereotypes, are we really? The amount of power that women have received may have increased in small margins, but for the most part it’s still the same (Reichert).  The majority of diet, sexual, and domestic advertisements are consumed with women.   As time has progressed, advertisers have started to use younger, taller, and thinner models. These models are typically younger than the audience that the product is intended for (Media Awareness). 

    Commercials that advertise ideal body images offer unrealistic expectations to the public.  “Women’s magazines are full of articles urging that if they can just lose those last twenty pounds, they’ll have it all—the perfect marriage, loving children, great sex, and a rewarding career” (Media Awareness Network). When women see these cosmetic and diet commercials, they want to purchase these products so that they can look like the models in the commercials. The reality is that most of the time these looks are difficult to obtain, and the only one benefiting from these advertisements is the industry. In reality, not even the model that is in the commercial looks like the model advertised. These models have a whole team to make them look the way that they do, such as a makeup artist, lighting specialist, Photoshop, trainers, and clothing designer etc. (Bessenoff). The diet, makeup, clothing, perfume, adult beverage, etc. industry is making a huge profit at the expense of its consumers who wish to look like these individuals in the commercials. Jean Kilbourne argues “that the overwhelming presence of media images of painfully thin women means that real women’s bodies have become invisible in the mass media” (Media Awareness Network).

Cindy Crawford said “I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford“(Media Awareness Network)

    Back in the day, models were able to achieve these unrealistic and difficult appearances by using makeup and airbrushing, but now computer retouching is being utilized (Bessenoff). Computer retouching has the capability to make a model have larger breast, smaller waist, higher cheek bones, flatter stomachs, less wrinkles, and etc. (Media Awareness Network).  These body images are becoming harder to obtain, which is why more women are getting plastic surgery. In order to get the look of these computer-altered models in advertisements, some regular women are going to the extreme by getting plastic surgery. 

    When women are portrayed as weak, dependent, and sex-objects all the time, it allows for the viewers to believe that women are only capable of these things. “This cultural norming process is achieved through repetitive television images, which reinforce cultural messages that become accepted as mainstream thought” (Ferguson). Advertising plays a huge role in what we believe and expect from both sexes. Commercials try and tell us that men are powerful, authoritative, independent, breadwinners, and successful so we attach these stereotypes to men. Just as women are expected to be beautiful, skinny, weak, dependent, sex-objects, mothers, and wives so this is what our society expects from women (Ganahl). The media puts a lot of pressure on all of us, and if you have low self-esteem and lack confidence it can truly impact ones thought process.