Friday, October 11, 2013

Advertising the Good

           Advertising plays on the image of what everyone should be. It feeds into the misleading perception of identity. Women and men alike idolize people and a certain way of life depending on what’s shown to them through mass media. These images and commercials are used to shape people’s minds into believing they can attain a certain stature by changing the way they look and behave.
            As humans, imperfection rises repeatedly. We lose ourselves to the media ultimately becoming submissive to the pressures of society. Harmful habits start to form such as anorexia and bulimia. Maggie Wykes and Barrie Gunter touch on the negative effects media places on women as to what they should look like. ‘Thin’ and ‘fair-skinned’ seems to be the ongoing favorable image throughout the decades. Women and men alike subject themselves to detrimental behaviors forced upon them in order for them to ‘look good’. Starting at an early age, we socially introduce fairytales to our daughters creating a perfect image of what is expected of a princess. A princess should be vulnerable and helpless always waiting on their prince charming to rescue them from their current situations. The image of princesses has been passed down through the decades telling young girls that you must be pretty and skinny. To model one’s own life off of a fairytale can lead to nowhere but ignorance and disappointment. For one, the only colored princess to have emerged from Disney has only been recently created altering the racial landscape of the traditional princess. On page 220, Wykes and Gunter state that media and society establish a false standard of what is and what is not desirable, and every woman wants to feel desirable. We change our entire lives in order for others to gaze even when we don’t want them to.
            Though harmful, we continuously buy into the scheme of advertising. Especially affecting our eating habits, media has strict unwritten laws as to how to eat. In the commercial industry we see all of these low fat bars and snacks that should fill you up, keep you going, and help you maintain a certain bodily shape. FibreThin bars reassure young women that food isn’t a necessity. Malnourishment is caused mainly by a lack of dieting interests. People are either indulging in fast foods or starving themselves, believing that snacks can sustain them. Society has also created the false image of gender roles making us believe that men act, women appear, men eat, women prepare. Unfortunately we buy into this system of promises that don’t really make us any happier. In Bordo’s Hunger as Ideology she elaborates on the restrictions we place on ourselves to be more ‘health-conscience’. In Fig 16 on page 120, there’s an ad for Log Cabin maple syrup with the caption that states this syrup will make your pancakes taste like the good old-fashioned home-styled pancakes we crave. In complete contradiction, our country has mass produced healthy foods with labels of real food like ‘cheesecake yogurt’. That sounds utterly disgusting, yet we settle to have the artificial flavors touch our taste buds while we satisfy our minds thinking we must be doing something right if we’re eating yogurt.

            Food advertising goes to the extremes of actually sexualizing the things you eat. We hear the deep sensual voiceover while chocolate’s being drizzled over the perfect scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. We find ourselves engaged and even saying to ourselves, “I’m hungry” after these ads finish. Media has structured our minds into believing wanting food is a sin. The only time women should actually want to eat is when they’re menstruating and chocolate is in dire need or when they’re pregnant and nourishment is a must. Sexualizing food doesn’t stop there as masculinity and femininity are challenged by the things we eat. Companies have even named their foods Manwich and Hungryman seemingly only suitable for high-testosterone-leveled men. The ridiculousness has gotten out of hand.
In addition to food, advertising tells us the type of demeanor that is not only acceptable but even more so, cool. Virginia Slims is a cigarette brand that constantly promotes female smoking. Their ads are filled with attractive, skinny, fair-skinned women who appear desirable. This form of advertising is simply morally wrong. And stupidly enough, we believe that if we smoke cigarettes, there is a certain empowerment of self. We believe everything in the media is good for us. We believe media and advertisements are there to better ourselves, yet it is only a part of the capitalist system for corporations to acquire more money. For some odd reason, the general public lacks the ability to think for themselves creating a global platoon of fools following orders.

Media tells us what to love. It tells us what needs to be done in order to be the best version of you. Media forces us to conform to an ideology that isn’t best suit for our health both physically and mentally. We live in a country where soda is banned from schools yet we still air national commercials for Pepsi and Coke, their colors ironically patriotic. We make millions of dollars on cigarettes yet we stamp each individual box with the message that cigarettes kill. Strategically, we know how to make money. We don’t know how to do what’s actually good for us. Greed takes over like a virus infecting the entire world as everywhere else believes America is the best, yet everyone knows this powerhouse of a country is the worst. Foreigners still strive to come to America for a better life. Advertising strategies is not of my primary concern. It does NOT deal with the root of the problem at hand. The root lies in what we advertise, not how we advertise it. We need to readjust our goals from money-oriented intentions to wanting a more organic, more appreciative lifestyle. Currently, we’re running away from our humanity trying to fit people into Iron Man suits. We aren’t invincible, we’re just infinite.

I guess this stuff appeals to our taste buds....
Eating ice cream before your meals...because that sounds right.

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