Monday, October 14, 2013

Fabricated Reality

I remembered how I was unhappy about my looks when I was adolescent. I wish I had whiter skin, thinner body, longer legs, bigger eyes, and smaller face like girls in magazines and ads.  I stopped to show up my ballet group practice because I felt I am so fat and ugly to do it, precisely, I had a fear that people would make fun of me and my plump body.  Now I less care about whether my body if fat or not, however, neither I can stop my friends to talk about it nor remove all the sexual, sexist ads from media. Thus I must admit that it still somewhat has influence on me.

In Beauty and the Beast of Advertising, Jean Kilbourne asserts that teenagers are vulnerable to peer pressure and media created dominant cultural messages. (Kilbourne, 122) In The More You Subtract, The More You Add, Kilbourne also claims, “advertising is one of the most potent messengers in a culture that can be toxic for girls’ self-esteem”.  For example, Kate Moss is fashion mogul, especially among teen girls. According to Kilbourne, girls are not simply imitating image of other girls but trying to assimilate with images of women- in which advertisers and magazines are implanting- to satisfy others’ desires (mostly males) (Kilbourne,138).  Kate Moss, her physical trait and unique characters matches up the qualities of a mainstream media seeks- white, super skinny, trend-setter, and bitch; her image as heroin chic, size zero, party life style made young people more fanatical about her. The more she gets famous, her skinniness has misrepresented as an absolute beauty of women in mainstream media. Ultimately, she encouraged teenagers to be obsessed with “anorexic-looking waif” body.  Many of girls have attempted to emulate her; not only her skinny body, but the bad-girl behavior. A mogul with great influence, but her twisted and iconic image caused enormous problems for adolescents. Kate Moss often criticized for inciting wrong ideal to teenagers, yet still she remains an aspiring role model among young women. 

In addition, In Constructed Bodies, Deconstructing Ads: Sexism in Advertising, Anthony Cortese argues that Ads plays an important role in shaping “gender identity.” According to Cortese, the representation of women in media does not reflect our reality, but depict them as sexual agents (Cortese, 52). Consequently, Ads and mainstream media help to perpetuate the idea of dominant men and subordinate women that associates with patriarchal society.  Similarly, Gloria Steinem asserts in her article Sex, Lies and Advertising, “Authority figures were always male, even in ads for products that only women used (Steinem, 113).”  Many examples she illustrates, were appealing/targeting men consumers because advertisers were under the male dominant society, believed often men purchase products, make decisions for women. Therefore, advertisers tend to make attractive advertising for men by portraying women as sex objects; bodies of women are being used to sell the products, even if the products are nothing do with women or their bodies.

See pictures below, Kate Moss, a world-famous model, is almost naked in front of camera, in advertising (public). Whom she is trying to impress? Why women have to be naked to be attractive to consumers? This provocative Advertising seemed as very problematic; because it equalizes women’s bodies with commodities.  Kilbourne argues “Advertising’s approach to sex is pornographic; it reduces people to objects and de-emphasized human contact and individuality (Kilbourne, 124).” The advertising jingle is more provocative: “OBSESSION for men” -women exist for men. Such the world where men have authorities, women have become passive and desirable for men.

Kilbourne and Cortese both note that because women fear to become undesirable or unloved persons, thus they are forced to pursue physical perfection. (Cortese.54; Kilbourne,122) Coretese quotes Kilbourne claims, advertisement urges consumers with the messages that that they areinherently flawed in order to convince us to spend money on their products. (Quote; Kilbourne, Cortese, 63) Our physical appearance needs to be enhanced by using the products, especially for women. In The Beauty Myth, Culture Naomi Wolf asserts, the women’s worth depended on bearing and rearing children in the past; in like manner, women’s physical beauty evaluates their worth today. (Wolf, 67) As she mentioned, in our patriarchal society women are always objectified women to make them appear subordinated to men, and Ads always be there to portray and promote gender hierarchies; it works well most of the time.

Worse, Ads not only promote the idea of power hierarchies they promote any idea which is needed to sell commodities. Kilbourne notes that Ads sells various values, includes products; consequentially it often defines us, and suggests us to become particular types of people. (Kilbourne, 121) Similarly, Cortese argues that the ideal women derived from a “social construct”; Ads does not invent arbitrary notion of social cultural attitude, but it does reflect and represent our society- traditional capitalism, believes, and myths (Cortese, 76).  Thus, it is important us to cry out for change in advertisement industry, but nothing is important than this; being aware of societal structure that impacts on gender hierarchies or inequality, and fundamentally, to abolish wrong conventions. Of course, there are some movements that ask public alter their old custom; it might seem insignificant, yet there have been minor changes that enlighten us about fabricated images in mainstream media.  

For example, the series of Dove real beauty campaign resonate public with alternative perspective of the beauty of women.

Dove Campaign for Real Beauty (interview):

Dove 2013 Real Beauty Sketches Ads:

Even these campaigns seem like baby steps, because we still are under the influence of a patriarchal and male dominance society. However, as Wolf writes, “What editors are obliged to appear to say that men want from women is actually what their advertisers want from women (Wolf, 73).” At least Mainstream media feel obliged to tell us about will lead us to the righteous path. I believe this new phenomenon would guide advertisement into desirable surroundings in the future.

Works Cited:

“Constructed Bodies, Deconstructing Ads Sexism in Advertising," Anthony Cortese
"The More You Subtract, The More You Add: Cutting Girls Down to Size," Jean Kilbourne
“Beauty and the Beast of Advertising,” Jean Kilbourne
“Sex Lies and Advertising,” Gloria Steinem
“The Beauty Myth, Culture,” Naomi Wolf

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