The image of women in advertising

I can’t recall who tweeted this link a few days ago (sorry!) but when I clicked and started viewing the video, many random thoughts flew through my consciousness. I’ll attempt to bring these thoughts together in a coherent whole:

The video discusses what advertising says about women, and how it’s most important what they look like. When Jean Kilbourne (the speaker in the video) mentions how advertising and the media show is the “ideal” women are expected to achieve, I agree whole-heartedly. It’s insane the number of images we see every day, in magazines, in movies and more, where the woman is drop-dead gorgeous, no flaws, and no pores, as Kilbourne points out. And of course, forget feeling guilty when you don’t like that, it just arouses feelings of shame within you. Ashamed of failing and of not being “beautiful”. Women base their entire self-worth on how they look, thinking no one will like them if they don’t fit that ideal. Heaven knows I felt like that constantly in my teenage years, where it was so bad I couldn’t even bear to look at myself in the mirror because I didn’t look anything like the women I’d see in advertisements every day (I still don’t!!!). While that constant sense of zero self-esteem doesn’t exist anymore for me, even now in depressed moments I feel butt-ugly. 

And in the video…making Jessica Alba look smaller?! Ummm she’s really small already! Leave some curves on the woman, for heaven’s sake!

Objectification of women is another issue. The video shows women’s bodies morphed onto alcohol bottles and cars; things like that. Self-esteem is one thing, but violence towards women is potentially a result of ads like these. Definitely not a direct causal link, as the video points out, turning a person into a “thing” is just the first step towards justifying violence towards him/her. A slight detour here, albeit related; this is a tweet I posted yesterday…read the article and tell me you’re not shocked by what lad’s mags are promoting:

A bit of Googling led me to this quote in an article also written by Kilbourne:

A recent Wall Street Journal survey of students in four Chicago-area schools found that more than half the fourth-grade girls were dieting and three-quarters felt they were overweight. One student said, “We don’t expect boys to be that handsome. We take them as they are.” Another added, “But boys expect girls to be perfect and beautiful. And skinny.”

What that student said? Yeah. Many women and men believe in that concept. So we spend a lot of time trying to fit that ideal that men often want in their partners. So listen up women: if the man tells you you’re fat and he’ll dump you if you don’t lose weight, YOU dump HIS sorry ass.

Looking good and feeling good about yourself is different from your body size. Yes, being obese is a health issue…I will not deny it, so it’s important to take care of youreslf and make sure you don’t face cholestrol issues or diabetes or something. But even if you have a few lumps here and there, even if your body isn’t that perfect hourglass…it doesn’t mean you’re not healthy! Focus on your health, then your body size.

Rant over.

EDIT: After reading my post, this is what a friend on Twitter posted, and I whole-heartedly agree with what she said.

Other posts on my blog related to women’s issues:


9 thoughts on “The image of women in advertising

  1. God bless Kate Winslet’s heart. I love what she said. I say, we don’t need to be perfect anyway. It’s in our imperfections that we become truly ourselves, truly beautiful.

  2. Thanks for reading & commenting @didipaterno! Yeah I absolutely love what Kate Winslet said…makes you believe that there are honest people out there y’know? I know what you mean; it’s taken me years to accept ME … I can look at myself in the mirror now. But again, with these images hitting us every day…sometimes in my sad moments, it does affect me sometimes. Oh well … Here’s to the real beautiful people 🙂

  3. Such a wonderfully thought provoking post. It is true that how much ever we educate ourselves to avoid being trapped in this quagmire, we find ourselves subconsciously drawn towards it all the more. I feel extremely apprehensive now because I, myself have gone through this whole thing with looking and feeling beautiful but I do not want my daughter to feel inadequate in any sort of a way. This is the challenge that Parents face today and it is very very scary.

  4. Thanks Anita. Logically, I know I should not compare myself to the airbrushed images I see in the media, but it does overpower you sometimes, I agree. With children, yes, it’s so scary. I mean, things like anorexia and bulimia are things we all need to watch out for in kids, who may resort to that to achieve “perfection”.

  5. Lovely post..its shocking that looks r everything these days.. Oh and yeh I dont want zaara feeling this, even though I have gone thru this whole-get skinny thing.. I think we shud be healthy and Happy..I always feel people focus less on being happy these days ..or even being nice! We must not take life too seriously.. We dont get out alive anyway 😀

  6. Well said Devina! I was reading an article on the Victoria Secret Fashion Show (where all those supermodels walk the cat walk in underwear and elaborate wings/etc) and they said that the models have like 10 layers of makeup on their butts and legs and everywhere… They’re already supermodels, why would it be so bad for the general public to see and accept that they too have flaws?I’m glad you are able to find your confidence other ways. There’s so much more to life than worrying about how you look and how you compare to others.

  7. Thanks Dina. Yup, people definitely need to focus on being nice as opposed to looking like a stick!!!Sheryn – Thanks for commenting 🙂 Ewww why would they want to put so many goop on themselves! I even heard recently about some insane diet these models go on prior to the show to look as thin as possible… bit mad wot?

  8. Ooooh you’re right. I’d forgotten about that one. Dove’s campaign was amazing. Women with cellulite and real, curvy bodies exist…who knew? 😉

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