Women are portrayed inhumanly in western media today. Edited images of women are posted on huge billboards in the busiest cities. Younger women see those “perfect” images — according to the advertisers — of what a woman should look like. This creates internal conflict inside these young women and reduces their self-esteem which in turn leads to depression and blind following of what they are presented with. In the following short piece, I will address advertising images and the sexism, racism and power hierarchies found in so many of these. I will answer these questions: What is the purpose of these images? What unintended effects might these pervasive images have or reflect? Is popular culture found in these? Learned? Critiqued? In addition to my analysis, I will construct an alternative to these mainstream images and explain why it is different. I will carefully draw out advertising strategies and goals and provide alternative paths for the industry or alternative anti-advertising messages.
According to Gloria Steinem, women’s magazines are rarely taken seriously and are referred to as cash cows. Women’s magazines nowadays lie heavily on advertising for the “average” woman, that is, the woman that needs to buy things in order to feel important. The woman they use in these ads are not real. They’re a figment of the advertisers sick imagination.
The bulk of the advertising companies are male-operated. Advertisers use sex to try and sell an item. Men look at women’s magazines for pleasure, while women look at women’s magazines for ways to improve themselves. Maybe women’s magazines should be recategorized as Men’s magazines. The items placed in these magazines create this cloud of lies and deception. Advertisers tend to heavily place “…shampoo, fragrance, and beauty products” (Steinem, 2) in women’s magazines because they’re dubbed as “women’s products”. These products can supposedly “turn back time”, or make one look younger, or improve one’s self-esteem. What these items basically do is create a void in people’s hearts for the reason that they just don’t work as advertised.
The prime, and maybe the only, purpose for these ads is to beat the “ideal beauty” into a woman’s head until she can’t get enough beauty. The need and greed to make money based on people emotions is the underlying reason. Some ads show the “before” and the “after”. Usually the after looks like a wax figure, not real. Unintended effects like skin cancer or other mental issues can arise from the use of these products. This is true for men as well, our “market share” is growing now, because it seems that they’ve got all the women, and men are advertised to much heavily now on television and in print. To advertisers, men’s bodies tend to define a “man”, so all male models seem to have the “perfect body”, where they’re selling underwear or cologne.
I believe that advertisers can be a bit more honest. They seem to not care about the welfare of their counterparts. Money has blinded them to the point where all they see is green. I believe that advertisers can be honest about a situation, much like advocacy advertising, and still make a decent profit.