All around we are surrounded and exposed to a countless number of advertisements, whether on billboards or on the internet. These ads are specifically created by advertisers to elicit a sense of desire for whatever product is being sold. Not only does it create this desire but these ads also create expectations, many unfulfilled. Concerning these ads, men start to expect women to look like the models in these ads. Women become aware of these expectations and try to mold themselves in order to better fit these delusional beauty standards.
Not only are women expected to fit these new standards, but they are also portrayed in a negative light. They are used as mere displays for whatever product is being sold.
In “Beauty and the Beast of Advertising”, Jean Kilbourne states how in the eyes of the advertisers, and consequently consumers, women are just sex objects with no sense of identity, basically a mannequin. (122). As mannequins, the women in all these ads look the same, with their long slender bodies and immaculate complexion . Viewing these mannequins, women are then forced to imitate this ultimate ideal or feel a sense of shame if they don’t succeed, because according to these ads, the only way to feel desired is to be impossibly beautiful.
Women are not only seen as display cases in these advertisements, but they are also portrayed as submissive to the male individual. They are posed in ways that make them seem inferior and meek. They are leered at and exposed to the male gaze. In these ads women are small and vulnerable with no sense of power or control. These ads make the female reader feel as though this is who she needs to become; she needs to lose the power and she needs to become passive. Meanwhile the male counterpart is powerful and serious.
In ”The More You Subtract The More You Add: Cutting Girls Down to Size”, Jeane Kilbourne makes a reference to certain ads that present contradictory messages. Not only are women posed as inferior, they are also framed as innocent and naive. Yet at the same time they have to some how also be seductive and experienced in order to be appealing. So as they begin to mature young girls are forced to find a way to conform to these contradictory expectations (145).
Advertisers are very aware of how they are affecting an individual’s life through their advertisements and even with that present knowledge they continue to objectify women. A solution to this problem would be for companies to find alternative ways to sell their products without the objectification of any individual. These companies should begin to realize that consumers want to relate to the models presented alongside the products. Advertisers should present individuals of different sizes and ethnicities into their ads in order to attract their consumers. Introduction of diverse models would better appeal to audiences as well as create a new beauty standard that doesn’t involve impossible ideals.