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Images Of Women In Advertising; Its Impact On Social Perceptions Of Beauty And Body Image Idealisms, And The Extents To Which We Go To Become Them

2482 words - 10 pages

“Medieval noblewomen swallowed arsenic and dabbed on bats' blood to improve their complexions; 18th-century Americans prized the warm urine of young boys to erase their freckles; Victorian ladies removed their ribs to give themselves a wasp waist.” 5 Even from medieval times, the extent to which women have gone to achieve ‘ideal beauty’ is extreme. In the 21st century, Americans spend more money on beauty related product than they do on their education, creating a 160 billion dollar a year global industry, all in the name of ‘perfection.’ 5 Intensification of body image ideals has increased through media and manipulation in the advertising industry, due to the portrayal of women, leading to ...view middle of the document...

The appeal is often indirect; it is portrayed subtlety through these social connotations present in advertising, and plays on our emotions. Sexual instincts and emotions are ones that are particularly exploited in advertising, along with maternal and paternal instincts.

The exemplary female prototype is seen to display youth, good looks, seductiveness, and perfection. The image attracts males to buy a product as a result of sexual instinct, the desire for the woman; and females desire to be like the woman. However, due to advancements in technology, most of the women and other imagery seen is not real, it has been constructed through use of cosmetics, image manipulation or airbrushing to achieve the final results seen in the magazines and on a billboard; one that has been manipulated to reflect an ‘ideal.’ Dixon has also stated that “Fear is a great salesman,” 4 and with regards to these manipulated images, women believe that they must look like that also, the fear of being inadequate leads us to believe in the ‘necessity’ of buying a product – to ensure we are adequate in meeting societies expectations. This statement shows how emotions play a huge role in the affect of advertising manipulations on the average person; it plays on their fears and doubts of themselves to sell them a product. In Trevor Millum’s book ‘Images of Women – Advertising in Women’s Magazines’ 4 the manipulations and issues with the advertising industry and explained thoroughly in the following quote:

“At bottom the case against advertising is the same as that against political propaganda, much religious proselytizing and any other form of emotional blackmail…Advertising try’s to achieve its ends by emotionally abusing its audiences. Recognizing that we all have fears hopes, anxieties, aspirations and insecurities, advertisers seek not to increase out understand of them, but to use their existence to increase the sales of whatever product they happen to have been paid to sell at any particular time.” (T. Millum 1975)

The manipulation of both image and people is used to play on our emotions create issues we never realized existed, so that they can sell products.

From a very young age, women are portrayed in an overtly sexual way or as sexual objects in the advertising industry, selling products and the key idea that youth is beauty. The main characteristics of what is identified as the perfect provocateur are youth, a lean toned body, with large breasts, a tiny waist, full hips, long legs, and unblemished skin, good looks which all form the overall sexual seductiveness of a woman. These idealistic standards are those which the cosmetic beauty and surgery industry thrive on; the advertising for these industry’s tell women they must look like this. Cortese acknowledges these extreme standards and portrayal of women used in advertising to sell products, in his book ‘Provocateur: Images of Women and Minorities in Advertising,’ 2 stating

“Women are constantly held to this...

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