Beauty in the Media: Unattainable Beauty- Self-Improvement or Self-Destruction?
Sexy lingerie, skimpy clothing, high heels, and lots of skin; this is what can be seen walking down any street, flipping through any magazine, browsing online, or shopping for groceries. Everywhere a person turns women’s bodies are being graphically used to sell a vast variety of products. Sex sells is the mantra of the advertising world and why would it not be when the use of sexual images dramatically, and provable increases sales. Sex has become the selling point of a product, rather than the value of the product or service itself. Beauty is no longer in the eye of the beholder, it is a set standard that can only be achieved by living up to impossible standards. Women struggle to change their attitudes, their looks, and their morals all in an effort to conform to a exceedingly high standard that through years of watching these images on television, and seeing them in magazines have become normalized to the point where, often unconsciously, they are accepted ideas, values, and standards; for women far more than for men looks are crucial and more defining and it is hard to achieve and maintain the image that media has defined as attractive, sexy, or desirable and the media promotes this through an continual barrage of visual cues.
In the ad shown above the manufactures are promoting their product using familiar advertising tactics. What the viewer sees of the woman is not much as the viewer cannot see the woman’s full body; the over tone of the ad suggests she is wearing little or nothing other than her stiletto heels perfectly accentuating her long legs. Her legs are seductively spread as if to suggest she is open to any prospect that might come her way. Although the woman in the ad is not nearly as exposed as the man she takes up the majority of the ad space and size with her provocative stance. This ad is highly sexual and suggestive; so much so that the viewer might miss what is being advertised. The product, a vacuum, is shown as a prop for the woman to set her heel on to better display her legs.
Graphic media is not the only advertising that promotes woman as sexual objects; popular film and television actresses are younger, taller, thinner, more promiscuous, and less careful all the time. Many concerning reports have been produced that to achieve these desired results they have to starve themselves, and will faint from hunger simply to maintain the body image that seems to be mandatory for a standard of beauty that has been set by media. These are the women that young girls are taught to idolize and emulate. Magazines published specifically for women are bursting with articles advising that if a woman can lose those twenty pounds and buy the right makeup and clothing, they’ll have everything—a perfect marriage, fantastic sex life, loving and polite children, and of course a rewarding career; all it takes is fitting into a very small mold.