The Campus

Objectified, Sexualized, and Patronized

Charlie Dudek

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Are you a consumer of make-up and other beauty products? Make up tutorials on YouTube and contouring the face to bring out, or hide, the predominant features on your face, are just two of many popular beauty hacks among women and girls today. Are you guilty of searching product reviews on YouTube to watch someone use the product you want to try? What made you want to look up the reviews about the new product you found, to see if it’s any good, and then want to go out and buy it? The advertisement you saw for that product. Yeah, that sounds obvious to someone who spends a lot of time keeping up with Pop culture and the media, but what if I told you that the ads for those products manipulated you into wanting it? We are shown advertisements with zero flaws and with examples of women with beautiful bodies and perfect lives, which is what the media wants us to strive to be. They set such high standards that are almost impossible for women to be able to achieve. Perfection and flawlessness don’t exist.

What the media portrays in their advertisements, is a reflection of what they want young girls and women to think about themselves, judge others for, and what the advertising industry’s definition of what the meaning of perfection and beauty is. Paul Sugget, a reporter for TheBalance.com called, “How Advertising Often Treats Women as a Commodity,” gives a harsh reality of what ads do to men and women. Sugget claims, “Advertising, marketing, and the fashion industry have created a new type of woman that does not exist in the real world. You know her very well. Men from an early age are told to desire this woman. This is the woman featured in ads for perfumes and lingerie. She is the centerfold in Playboy. She is the standard to set your life by. Women, from the same early age, are told they must look like this woman. They should aim to have those long legs, that perfect skin, beautiful hair, and incredible body.” The women in ads are not human. They are a creation of an industry obsessed with perfection, and selling products to women that they claim will help them achieve the impossible goal they have set.

Although most of us are aware of the manipulative and subliminal messages behind advertisements, as adults we choose to follow the standards that the media has set towards women. The media uses things in their ads such as sex, pleasure, beauty, and sin to make us feel that it’s important for them to be buying their beauty products. The spokes models say many different subliminal messages to make women feel insecure about the way they look. With all of those different messages and expectations that come from beauty ads, the media has created a stigma against women and the way they are “supposed” to look. In Killing Us Softly 4, a documentary by Jean Kilbourne, retired model and media literacy activist, reveals the ugly truth about society’s expectations of beauty in advertisements. She analyzes the objectifications of women’s bodies, spreading awareness of the way women are viewed in the media today. Kilbourne states, “Ads sell more than just products. They sell values. They sell concepts of love and sexuality, of success, and perhaps the most important of normalcy. To great extent, they tell us who we are and who we should be.” The media wants women to have a specific image, and wants to control how women think and feel about the way they achieve the “ideal” image of beauty.

Beauty ads make women feel like they are not beautiful enough, and criticize them, almost cynically, to make them feel that is they buy their products, they will become the perfect image. But the pictures of women in the advertisements have been photoshopped and modified so many times that the models don’t even recognize themselves in their photos. Society strives and desires perfection, which creates false images as the form of perfection we strive to become. Psychologically we have developed into a stereotypical and materialistic breed of human beings, whether we think so or not.

Advertisements show false images throughout the media; they warp, mold, and manipulate their ads to persuade women into wasting their money on their products by creating psychological issues within ourselves. These ads control our lives knowingly and unknowingly. To change society, what we think the perfect image is, what’s hot and what’s not, and how we view women, then we need to start with becoming aware of these issues in the media. We need to become media literate. Society will never stop striving for perfection, that will never change, but we can change the form of perfection we are striving for.

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Objectified, Sexualized, and Patronized