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Different aspects of life are constantly changing and evolving. New ideas and opinions bloom every day; however, the unchanging public view of beauty in smaller sizes has hovered over the heads of young women like a relentless rain cloud for years and years. In today’s society, the judgment of the public eye grows heavier and heavier as the number increases. The models in ads aren’t selling a product; they’re selling themselves. In a twisted way, advertisers have taken advantage of our society’s infatuation with the “perfect” body image in a desperate attempt to promote their products. The pressure to warp your body to fit into the ideal standards of beauty has become more extreme than ever, coaxing women to purchase self-care products that would’ve been considered absurd 30 years ago. Through the use of allusions, refutations, and juxtaposition, the author, Elline Lipkin, approaches the controversy over body image in today’s world and exposes several problems with the mindset of our generation.
Lipkin makes sufficient use of allusions in a multitude of places in her writing. The evolution in preference of leg size is noted when Lipkin includes, “the Rockettes had shorter, chunkier limbs than today’s long-stemmed, lean favorites” (15), and goes on to explain, “changes in fashion have accounted for an emphasis on tight, narrow thighs” (15). The allusion to the well-known group of dancers (who fit into society’s ideal body image) helps portray how society can effortlessly dictate the way women compare themselves to others; one major way being the fashion industry. Lipkin makes sure to allude to well-known companies as well. As mentioned in her writing, “Dove’s campaign sought to use “real women” to defy use of expected body shapes and types, as well as ages, of models, and it pinpointed bolstering self-esteem in girls as a crucial starting point to having grown women appreciate their bodies as they are” (24). By referring back to a household-name skin care company, Lipkin is able to relate to her audience by using an example that they are likely familiar with; however, alluding to the Dove campaign also serves another purpose.
As Lipkin stated in the writing, “Dove is still hawking products to girls and women that they probably don’t fundamentally need” (25), and she continues to refute and discredit the campaign by stating, “One of the original ideas for the Dove Real Beauty campaign was for a cellulite-firming cream, pointing to the disconnect between promoting women’s self-acceptance and selling a product that diminishes the size of women’s thighs” (25). By refuting (and more or less overturning) the validity of Dove’s campaign, the author makes the reader aware that even companies who market themselves as accepting and embracing of all body types still find ways to reel in customers by banking on their insecurities. If Dove was genuinely engrossed in building the self-esteem of all women, why would they be marketing cellulite cream?
Some people may argue that men don’t get as much sympathy for the unattainable body images that are present in society compared to women. While this may be true, Lipkin refutes this accusation by declaring, “While boys and men are increasingly presented with images that also stray far away from the reality of the average male body, the use of male models to sell mundane products isn’t as pervasive [compared to women], and the presence of a conventionally attractive or sexualized male body isn’t considered as strictly standard to sell a product or tell a story” (6). Lipkin addresses a potential argument that readers may have against her empathy of young women and refutes it by logically explaining that, although men face similar hardships in today’s world, the effects are not as detrimental or prevalent. By making this statement, the author is able to reason with the audience and make it known that she respects their viewpoint while also strengthening her own argument.
Continuing to build on her argument, Lipkin makes use of juxtaposition by pointing out, “the average American woman’s weight is now listed as 163 pounds and her height is listed as just under five feet four inches” (18), and then immediately compares that statistic to the norm of an average fashion model, which “is approximately five feet nine inches to above six feet tall, and her average weight is 117 pounds” (18). By placing these statistics right next to each other, the author is able to convey to difference between the two types of women. The fashion models that are plastered in magazines across the country set unrealistic expectations for the average woman. The height and weight of an average fashion model are at extreme ends of the spectrum (extremely light weight and extremely tall height). These are the women that are on billboards and featured in beauty product commercials. The bottom line can be simply put: companies use models in their marketing techniques to coax the average woman into purchasing a product that they believe will make them look like the model in the advertisement, when, in reality, even the model doesn’t look like that in real life. Photoshop and airbrush techniques make it truly impossible for the average woman to look like the models in the ads, but advertisers make them believe that it can be achieved through the purchase of their product.
Women are under constant pressure to be a certain interpretation of beautiful. Lipkin attempts to take charge of this issue through allusions, refutations, and juxtaposition to convey to the reader that the marketing techniques used for beauty products are an untrue representation of a woman’s appearance. Overall, the author is able to point out the flaws of the societal image of beauty that is forced upon women in today’s world.
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