Beauty Advertisements Psychology Essay Example
In the contemporary world, the mass media, specifically advertisements in magazines and newspapers, greatly influence the everyday lives of people. The most dangerous effect of the mass media is that it imposes societal beauty ideals. In most cases, beauty advertisements negatively affect young girls and women. In fact, such type of advertisement may undermine mental and physical health of a person, thereby lowering their self-esteem and developing depression. Moreover, the mass media can distort women’s understanding of beauty. While many celebrities are perceived as role models by the consumers, the latter may take radical measures such as plastic surgery in order to be like their ideals. In this respect, victims of beauty advertisements, specifically teenagers, can hardly differentiate reality from fantasy.
Media Imagined Beauty For Us
Thus, commercials greatly manipulate people’s consciousness, forcing them to waste their money and purchase unnecessary products. Although there are some examples of beauty advertisements that do not humiliate or control women’s minds, there still exists a possibility of harm they may cause. Therefore, while advertising creates unreachable beauty standards that appeal to women’s consciousness and affect their choices, this issue has to be addressed due to the harmful impact commercials make on women’s lives.
Today, media marketing impacts the consumers in many different ways. For example, beauty commercials cause harm to mental and physical health. Thus, advertisements may undermine person’s self-esteem and, in turn, cause depression and feeling of insecurity.
While advertisements usually create unrealistic images of beauty, many women tend to become anxious about their bodies and appearance. Apparently, the popular media created the trend of a thin body as an excellent example for women to follow (“Technology and media,” n.d.). Consequently, looking at advertisements in the modern media where most models are thin, young girls and women who do not fit this ideal may torture themselves by diets and even suffer from hunger in order to be like their idols. Furthermore, such commercials support formation of low self-confidence as well as low self-esteem in many women (Britton, 2012). The reason is that while contemplating magazine models or celebrities with perfect bodies, teenage girls try to emulate them. According to Grabe, Hyde, and Ward (2008), “Approximately 50% of girls and undergraduate women report being dissatisfied with their bodies” (p. 460). In this respect, women are more focused on the fact how they look than on their occupations and character. In fact, beauty commercials are strongly connected with the creation of insecurity. For example, when young girls or women are shown images of models advertising products such as clothes, shoes, cosmetics, and perfume, there is likelihood that they will be dissatisfied with their bodies as well as find themselves less attractive (Trampe, Stapel, & Siero, 2011). Therefore, beauty advertisements negatively influence women’s vision of themselves.
At the same time, commercials may cause development of depression as well as anorexia nervosa. When women see thin bodies on the screen, they take these fictitious images as role models. In fact, a major target of such advertisements is young girls because they are inexperienced consumers. The reason is that the adolescents only start learning their values and roles, as well as developing their self-esteem. While all adolescents are likely to be influenced by the messages that advertisements send, the products provide them with what they want. Thus, a cigarette or a can of beer is a symbol of independence, while a pair of jeans or fashionable shoes represent status (Kilbourne, 1999, p. 129). When young girls see images of women, usually in unreal scopes, they perceive it as a standard, which they should reach when they will mature. According to the report provided by the American Psychological Association, girls are greatly exposed to images shown in advertisements, and thus they are more susceptible to depression, low self-evaluation, and eating disorders (Aneja, 2014, p. 25). From the early years, girls risk becoming victims of many illnesses, and one of them is anorexia (Frisby, 2004, p. 330). According to Harrison and Cantor (1997), anorexia nervosa is a dangerous disorder that threatens human life (p. 45). It is described by the refusal to consume food in order to maintain appropriate body weight. Talking about people who suffer from anorexia, they tend to be afraid of gaining weight that, in turn, may cause depression. Swinson (2011) stated that “one in four people is depressed about their body, …and almost half of girls in a recent survey think the pressure to look good is the worst part of being female”. Thus, a beauty advertisement triggers the development of illnesses in young girls and women.
Moreover, beauty commercials mislead women and provide them with false images of beauty, forcing them to be perfect. Britton (2012) stated that in 2007, 11.7 million of cosmetic surgical products depicted in beauty advertisements greatly raised the number of cosmetic surgeries. The obsession with perfect models’ bodies, skin, and hair evokes the desire of consumers to search for a quick fix of their imperfections. As a result, paying great attention to appearance, many women do cosmetic surgeries in order to look younger and more sexually attractive (Kilbourne, 1999, p. 72). More importantly, these advertisements influence the way women perceive themselves. Commercials make consumers feel that they are not attractive enough compared to the advertised ideal images. Thus, advertisements create role models for women that usually remain unreachable. Consequently, women are not confident and happy with their appearance and body because every day in beauty commercials they are told that they do not fit the established idea of beauty. The idealized shape and size make women feel miserable and abandoned. Furthermore, older women are under pressure from beauty commercials when young and thin 20-years-old models are presented. Unfortunately, women can hardly comprehend that models in advertisements are photoshopped in order to possess stereotypical norms of beauty. Thus, women make futile efforts to follow the role model portrayed in the advertisement, ignoring the natural beauty of their years (Aneja, 2014, p. 22). While advertisements increase the interest of consumers in beauty products, they lower their self-evaluations, forcing to perform ill-considered and risky acts.
In fact, beauty advertisements manipulate human consciousness, making people buy unnecessary products. Apparently, commercials affect people’s preferences, choices, as well as perceived needs. Frequency of beauty advertisements on TV and in magazines has formed people’s conception of the particular product. Moreover, advertisements force consumers to better remember and recognize brands. As a result, even if a woman does need one more lipstick or sweater, she will probably purchase it because of the images created by the advertisement in her head. In most cases, commercials do not simply show rational arguments in favor of a product, but rather attempt to affect women’s emotions. Being guided by emotions, women are more likely to make unnecessary purchases. According to Beauty at Any Cost (2008), “The YWMCA reported that $7 billion is spent each year on cosmetics” (as cited in Britton, 2012). In most beauty advertisements, female bodies, sexuality, and seductive images are used in order to draw men’s attention to the products. In addition, sexually depicted celebrities and models in advertisement are viewed as unattainable ideals for young girls. Hereby, such commercials promote the need for women to look sexy. To look more attractive, women waste their money on goods they actually do not need. Thus, impacting women’s thoughts and attitudes, the advertisement achieves its main target that is to earn more money by selling a particular product.
Although the above-mentioned arguments show that advertisements have a harmful impact on women’s mental and physical health, there can be found counterarguments to prove their beneficial effect. For example, there is a thought that advertising helps to improve the economy. Nowadays, people meet advertisements everywhere, namely on the streets, in movies and magazines, and on the Internet. Thus, the more successful advertising industry is, the more money to the economy of the country it may bring. Moreover, advertisements make some products cheaper as well as provide specific ideas and information about them (Plumer, 2012). On the contrary, too much beauty advertisements in newspapers and magazines can be very dangerous. While advertisements promote images, values, vision of wealth and beauty as well as concepts of love and sexuality, they might be very harmful. Thus, beauty commercials show people how they should look like and what they have to wear in order to be accepted by the modern world. In some cases, advertisements may trigger addictions that, in turn, bring many problems to the consumers. Moreover, people pay a lot of money for advertisements as well as risk their health. At the same time, the income of advertising companies has grown during the last years (Kilbourne, n.d.). Commercials provide billions of dollars for different companies across the world (Kilbourne, n.d.). Although advertisements inform people about a particular product, the majority of them can be harmful. Watching too many advertisements, people tend to want excessive amounts of things that they do not need or even can hardly afford (Samson, 2013). Ide (2011) noted that too much beauty commercials might make people feel inadequate when they do not have something they want. While the advertisement brings economical success to the industry, it has a harmful impact on its audience.
At the same time, there are advertisements which depict average size women. For example, “Dove Real Beauty” Campaign that has been conducted almost ten years ago portrays women of all races and sizes to demonstrate female beauty. The particular advertisement does not have any hint on pressure or manipulation that the other commercials usually have. In fact, there are no digitally manipulated images of extremely thin models, making women feel unattractive or fat. Thus, the aim of the campaign is to let consumers feel confident. The advertisement depicts women with the average size, natural faces, and of different age, who are satisfied with their appearance. The rebuttal of this counterargument is the fact that this campaign might be more harmful to women and girls than any regular advertisement. While advertising has taught women to compare themselves to the ideal images they recently saw, this potentially might lead them to make comparisons with the images of real women (Celebre & Denton, 2014). In this regard, “Dove Real Beauty” Campaign as well as its audience remains in a risk zone. Therefore, in one way or another, the advertisement influences self-esteem of women, forcing them to compare themselves with the presented women’s body or appearance.
Therefore, an advertisement creates an unreal and dreamlike world where all people are thin, beautiful, and perfect. Beauty commercials depict the way in which humans should look, causing many problems to them. The ideals imposed by beauty advertisements surround young girls and women every day. Advertisements create the entire world view, pressing women to take actions that they would never do under other circumstances. To gain a profit for their products, companies refer to advertisements that constantly affect women’s self-esteem in a harmful way. Commercials make women feel that they are not attractive enough, pushing them to make plastic surgeries, torture themselves by diets, and spend a lot of money on unnecessary products. Moreover, young girl and women risk suffering from depression and stress due to their appearance. Although there are some advertisements aimed at exposing the falseness of stereotypical views on beauty, they do not forbid their consumers to follow the images they represent. Therefore, beauty advertisements have a negative impact on women’s perception of themselves, body, health, and self-esteem.