Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Portrayal of Women in Advertisements

We watched a film in school today and last week called Miss Representation (I love the title, it's really clever) about the portrayal of women in media and in general and the issues that come with it. And this is an issue that I believe should be getting more attention. When makeup and clothing companies put advertisements out, they don't put the advertisements out without a whole load of retouching. And all this retouching and skin airbrushing leads to a beauty ideal that people in real life can honestly never emulate. Models in, for example, a Revlon ad (just picked a random company) are going to have ridiculously perfect skin, lifted cheekbones, and flawless eye makeup. And in real life, that's just not something that people can achieve. Having a perfect model sells the product, because it obviously sends the message of, "buy this product to look like this" that women across the world buy into.

Yet seeing these ads creates this ideal of beauty that people simply can't live up to. It can make you feel inadequate, like you need to be different than you are to be perfect. And this can hit your self esteem really, really hard. Because you can't be perfect - nobody can. Look around the room next time you're in a group of people. Even the most glamorous person in the room isn't going to look like an advertisement. So the ad companies create unrealistic ideals of beauty that women (and men, but I'm focusing this post on women) yearn for. And this is an issue. It makes women and girls feel inadequate that they don't look like girls and models in magazines. And this is upsetting, since nobody looks like them - even the models themselves. The published version of those models is not majorly different from the model in real life, but it is different. And that difference impacts girls worldwide.

If we didn't see airbrushed photos of women, we would accept regular people as the norm. And if we didn't see the modified bodies of models in magazines, we would do the same. Striving for the perfect body and perfect skin is seriously hard hitting in terms of girls' self esteem. This can lead to feelings of worthlessness or eating disorders - all because of our society's obsession with beauty and outward appearances. Of course, appearances are the first thing you notice about someone. But being beautiful is very often associated with being happy. People should be judged based on their personality, not their looks.  But that isn't reality. The ad companies see that beauty is equated with happiness, so they reel you in with promises of beauty. And consumers buy it, and the cycle of unrealistic expectations begins to rub off on the rest of the world.The portrayal of women in advertisements and media is something that needs to get attention, so that people realize what a profound effect it has on women and men. When men see these unrealistic portrayals of women, they expect women to be the same in real life. And it's straight up impossible.

Next time you see an ad with a celebrity who has flawless skin, remember that it isn't that way in real life. And if you see an ad with a model whose waist is about an inch around, remember it was a different size before it got modified by someone at their computer. And last of all, remember that no matter what the media or advertisements say, you are beautiful.


  1. Hey, I love your website, I just thought that you should know that the media almost never leads to eating disorders.

  2. Thanks. Yeah, I'm not saying it's a direct link but I do think that the media create an ideal of beauty that's impossible to live up to, and attempting to reach that ideal can contribute to negative views of body image.


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