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Through decades of advertisements in the world, we have seen food, clothing, beauty products, shoes, furniture and so many more items be placed on television, newspapers, radios and magazines but we never fully take a moment to look for the effects it has on the society around us and how it hurts the people buying the products. We never stop to look at who the consumers are or why they are purchasing these items; as long as the producers are making money off of it, no one really cares where it is going or why people need it. In studies and articles written by Jean Kilbourne, Simon Gwynn and Peggy Drexler, we see the differences between who the advertisements are for, why they are given out and how it affects some of the youngest society members. While more detailed evidence is provided from the documentary The Illusionists directed by Elena Rossini. Overall, it is proven that society tries its best to ignore advertisements, yet affects little girls, how young men are taught how to look but are embarrassed on how to get to the end goal and how society sells the shortcuts to all these personal and private desires.
In Kilbourne’s article, Jesus is a Brand of Jeans, she explains how different advertisements, do different things to young people and how it affect society and how things can mean different things for different people. She states a couple things that had a lot of the same underlying tones on how we, as a society try to ignore some things about society and advertisements and the value and perceptions of some products. She goes on to explain how the things she hears versus what she sees are two different things and have two different meanings. “What I hear more than anything else, as I lecture throughout the world, is, ‘I don’t pay attention to ads’, ‘I just tune them out’, and ‘they have no effect on me.’ I hear this most often from people wearing clothes emblazoned with logos”. When she talks about this, she mentions how people are trying to hide the fact that they know that something is not right but justify it by wearing or using their projects, she later ties this in to how we ignore objectification and disembodiment of women, “Because we think advertising is trivial, we are less on guard, less critical, than we might otherwise be. While we’re laughing, sometimes sneering, the commercial does its work… advertising often turn people into object. Women’s bodies — and men’s bodies too these days– are dismembered, packaged, and used to sell everything from chainsaws to chewing gum, champagne to shampoo”.
Although we, as a society ‘ignore’ these advertisements, to let men’s and women’s self esteems fall to the bottom and shy away their true beauty. She finally goes in to how young girls feel when their bodies are shown as one thing and they don’t see society’s beauty standard on their own bodies, “Girls’ self esteem plummets as they reach adolescence partly because they cannot possibly escape the message that their bodies are objects, and imperfect objects at that”. Although a lot of advertising is not always in Hollywood, California, we see how even movie posters connect to this idea of objectifying women and their bodies and how this can influence young girls to be like the ones on the posters and be big is to be undressed or showing off their bodies. In Hollywood, we see the Headless Hollywood Women.
In the aspect of young boys, they feel as much pressure as young girls in today’s societies eyes on the front of making their bodies feel more ‘presentable’ to the public and their peers. As Simon Gwynn provides an article called: Boys’ body image affected by advertising, study finds and Peggy Drexler with an article titled: The Impact of Negative Body Image on Boys, they evidence on how boys pay attention to advertisements as much as, or even more than young girls in today’s average life. From two different studies, we see how social media trains young men’s minds to also dislike their bodies. First from Gwynn, “While 53% of the participants said traditional advertising created pressure to look good and 57% said the same of social media, they often did not make a link between the two. Few in focus groups carried out for the study showed as much awareness of the level of sponsorship of social media influencers and, when told, they were often surprised”. Then we see from Drexler, “An earlier study in the British Journal of Health Psychology found that boys overwhelmingly reported feeling pressured to fit a certain physical ideal – and that ideal was ‘toned and muscular’.” They both show how advertisements and social media can make boys feel like they need to change their bodies to please other men, coaches, parents, friends, teammates and peers. They get these body ideas from advertisements from underwear, movies, magazines, and many other commercials/advertisements for many products that are sold for this gender group. Drexler also mentions the effect these insecurities in young men affect their masculinity, “Boys, more than girls, want to look good, but they don’t want to admit it. That’s because traditional notions of masculinity exclude any interests or traits that could be considered girly – things like grooming and dieting.” She explains how boys want to work for their bodies but they don’t want people to know how they work for their ideal body because it may seem more feminine to work for their body types and to look good for other people. These statistics and studies show how a simple underwear company shows one body type only and that is the body all these boys are chasing after the body that Calvin Klein shows off in their advertisements.
In the documentary The Illusionists directed by Elena Rossini, we see how major producers use people’s insecurities to see products, often seen as cheats, shortcuts or small fixes to the flaws of the customers. In some parts of the documentary, we see how producers can make any product that will change someone’s appearance and the consumers will buy it for any price. We see examples like makeup that will change your skin for more than twelve hours, products that will actually change your skin tone, make your eyes look bigger or smaller, things that will make you look like you have more hair. There are more products like supplements that will make you lose or gain weight in just a couple of weeks. Lists going on focusing on the idea of the perfect body for everyone to reach. She shows different countries and different people everywhere in the world trying to change their own perceptions of themselves.
Overall, no one in today’s day and age will ever be fully happy with their appearance or body and they will never stop buying these products from producers and companies.
A lot of these advertisements target people with insecurities and make them feel like they need to fit a certain picture, when really, it doesn’t appeal to the correctness of human nature despite what name is on the packaging. People have been changing themselves for years on end and always for the wrong reasons, for love, for society or for other people, but when have we seen someone change for themselves? Even though we have people speaking up about body positivity, it will never be enough to stop advertising and sexualization of women and men in today’s society.
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