March 23, 1998
Women in today s society are influenced by advertisements. These influences could be from being the perfect size four in pants, to a type of fragrance, to a type of cigarette they choose to smoke. This is usually how women are portrayed in most ads. Because of this portrayal, women often become obsessed with becoming the same person they see on television, billboards, and in magazines. In some cases, this becomes a health hazard. Women are tricked into thinking that they are obese, not thin enough, not curvy enough, or just not as beautiful as the models in the ads.
Having the perfect body is often associated with the emaciated supermodel Kate Moss. Moss first started to model on billboards and magazines about four years ago for the popular clothes designer Calvin Klein. When women look at this frail, 105-pound body, they begin to daydream about being this thin. In a study conducted in 1996, 60 percent of sixth graders admitted to dieting at one point. The author of a well known book For Real: The Uncensored Truth About America s Teenagers, comments that body perception is a huge, huge, huge problem for girls and almost every teenage girl is unhappy with her body in one way or another and can tell you down to the minutest detail just what s wrong with it (Leland, 66). The author, Jane Pratt accuses the media for this. With the boom of advertising, they are sure to influence vulnerable girls who have trouble alone getting through puberty alone, without the pressures of having to look perfect.
The perfect body is also a large part of teenage magazines such as Seventeen, Teen, Young and Modern, Jump, etc. These magazines tend to have trouble escaping the thin is in phenomenon (Leland, 66). The majority of their profit comes from ads for clothes, make up products, and weight-loss programs. Because these magazines are looking for any type of ad for their magazine, almost never reject the advertisement. In the summer of 95, the popular teenage magazine Sassy featured an article about an anorexic girl who weighed a mere 55 pounds. A couple of pages after the article there was an advertisement for a weight-loss program. The ad pictured a slim girl in a bikini with a slogan saying Now-in only 2 weeks, you can start to have THINNER, FIRMER LEGS & HIPS If this doesn t contradict the article of the sick girl, I don t know what would. If a teenage girl were to flip through this issue of Sassy, she would most likely learn the lesson of how to get a firmer body rather than the dangers of over-obsessing about weight and body image. The fashion industry does not see a problem with this. Quotes fashion photographer Raymond Maier For us it s more on the playful side. It s not a dogma where we re telling people, This is the way it should be (Moog, 66).
Another example of women being influenced by advertisements is that of beautifying and sexuality ads. A product that will almost always have a sexual scene is a perfume ad. This type of advertising is usually imagery suggestive of romantic or sexually interludes, abounds with examples of pure self-indulgence and smug egocentricity rather than relationships ( Moog, 162). With this in thought, women often find themselves looking at this type of advertisement and thinking My life could be just as good as hers is if I wear that fragrance-and then all the men will want me. However, in the real world, while a fragrance like Calvin Klein s Obsession of Eternity might seem appealing, they will not change your life.
Women are also used in cigarette ads in order to make a lady-like appeal. The general ad for women in cigarette ads is to look either professional or sexual, both which are appealing to today s women. In a Winston ad the model is not just being offered as an advertising vehicle, her image is being sold and branded itself: She s a product called Real People .. (Moog, 110). While one who smokes this cigarette might just be a model, she acts and looks like a normal woman in our society. It does not mean that you will be just like her if you smoke Winston cigarettes. If an ad were to say the truth, the slogan should read Winston s cigarettes will not make you anything different than you already are, but will, however, just increase your risk of cancer.
Advertisements, no matter if they are for cigarettes, weight-loss programs, or fragrances, always will try to brainwash a target group. In my examples, the target was women. They try to perceive them as perfect people, when in reality, this is not the case. This is cleverly done by selling an image, a state of mind or a perception that the buyer will share the same experience as the individual in the ad. Perhaps in the future, advertising agencies will not develop and focus on stereotypes. I would hope advertising will focus on the realistic woman rather than the ideal woman.