Women in Advertising

3 years, 10 months ago

So this link appeared on my facebook wall: http://front.moveon.org/kate-winslet-i-dont-look-like-that-and-i-dont-desire-to-look-like-that/?sms_ss=facebook&at_xt=4de7e1dd45f52d91,3 And I thought it looked pretty interesting, so I watched it and read through the comments, then posted my own massive one. I don’t want all that typing to just be read by a few people, so I will post it here so I can hear your ideas as well :)


Well, from first glance at the comments, my guess is most of you guys (and gals) are american. Why some much focus on Conservative vs Liberal? Do we really need to bring that title out so that as soon as someone says a "liberal-sounding comment" you can say "Oh, well, I’m a conservative, therefore I can disagree with them because they don’t believe in the same government as I do, so theres no way we can agree on this."

Reading through the comments, I’ve heard this:
– Advertising is degrading to women
– Advertising is ALSO degrading to men.
– If women don’t want to be treated like objects, then they shouldn’t act like them.
– And, women are playing the victim card.

So, I guess I’ll respond to those issues. Also, I’m going to throw in
– Objectifying women makes it easier to abuse them

To start, I would like to ask a question. It is said here that advertising puts of images of "flawless beauty" and "the ideal women" and then women everywhere get insecure and try to mimic them. To those women (the women everywhere), I would like to ask "Do you think that the people in the pictures are beautiful?" And I guess the same question to the men. How do we know that the women that advertising puts are are "perfect beauty"? I like how the video showed the anorexic models, and then said that they are in modelling still. To me, and to most people I know, those women are actually quite ugly. Just because women are posted all over the place and someone is saying "Look at these beautiful women and the products they use to be beautiful, come buy our products and you can be beautiful too!" Can someone not say "Actually, you are not beautiful. I do not want to look like you." If one says "Yeah, thats a pretty cool look, I want to look like you" then how can one blame an industry for inspiring a new look for one to try? It all comes down to one’s choices. I’ve kind of swerved off topic here, so I’ll conclude. Advertising is only degrading to women if they let themselves be degraded. Look at Kate Winslet. She chose to do her own thing, and to hell with what Hollywood and advertisements told her. So instead of saying "Oh no, advertising gives me a ‘perfect’ ideal that I have to live up to", try saying "You know what? I don’t like that. I want to be myself." Do you think that advertising would be as effective if noone looked at it or agreed with it?

Onwards to my next point! I think that advertising is also degrading to men. I don’t like the word degrading, but it is said that advertising gives women an image of "perfect beauty" with long legs, a narrow waist, a big bust, and flawless features, but have you seen ads with men? Broad shoulders, flawless complexion, rippling abs and pecs, this goes both ways. Men also have pressure to try and achieve "ideal beauty". So, don’t limit this problem to just women.

Thirdly, I saw someone post (it was Nibingul) that "If women don’t want to be treated like trash, then
they should stop acting like it. This seems a little harsh, and I paraphrased it, so it sounds harsher, but the idea was that if people don’t like that they are being stereotyped, then stop following the stereotype! Seems like a simple idea to me. It comes back to the idea that "If you don’t like an idea, then don’t react to it." One might say "But advertising and the image of perfect beauty is everywhere! How can we possibly ignore it?" To those people, I say "Kate Winslet did it. Can you not be strong too?"

Fourthly, talking about women playing the victim card. This kind of ties into two of the above paragraphs I typed, so it’ll be short. Advertising puts the same ideals out for men, yet that is hardly ever brought up as an issue. Usually, its "Advertising is degrading to women by putting up an image of perfect beauty that is unattainable" When in reality it puts up that image for everyone. Male and female. So, that is why I think that people say that women are just "being the victim here". This is an issue that affects everyone, women just speak out the loudest about it.

Lastly, the point about how objectifying women makes it easier to abuse them. I fail to see how this works. If you take someone, put them in a box, and throw that box into the river, you can think "Hey, I never killed a person, I just threw a box away", that to me is objectifying someone to facilitate violence towards them. If you see a women dressed up or digitally altered to look like a beer bottle (like the video showed), then think "Hey, if I abuse that person, it’s just like smashing a beer bottle. Its not abuse.", then I think that that person is quite twisted, and would have ended up as a serial killer whether advertising dressed people up or not. Also, does this not ruin Halloween? Are we removing are humanity by dressing up as inhuman objects?

This post was giant, and I’m sure that many will just skip over it. And I’m not telling you if I’m a liberal or conservative. So you’ll actually have to read what I wrote to make judgements.

June 3, 2011 at 8:52 am

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Profile photo of Martijn Schirp Martijn Schirp A (@martijn) 3 years, 10 months ago ago

Great post Bryan, I’ve been thinking about this subject for a while now because it ties in perfectly with our notion of happiness and true happiness. Our notion is what we learn when we get confronted with images that depict what happiness should be like, true happiness is the experience if you were happy right now.

In our present day society we get bombarded with ideas of how life should be like, how much happier would you be if you bought car X and how much more beautiful you would be like if you used product Y. Commercials manipulate you into doing what the commercial was designed to do. It’s propaganda, disguised as marketing, in the name of individuality.

Now I think it’s obvious that the confusion of what’s real and what’s not can lead to many problems, the advertisement of woman is one of them. I don’t want to repeat the points in the video, of which I agree with all of them. I’d rather like to point out that this happens unconsciously. Your idea of beauty is made up by bits and pieces of the reality you grew out of, if that reality is part manipulating you are manipulating yourself in the end. And this inner fight is extremely strong in western societies (We have armies of marketeers to make sure we keep on consuming). We personally feel like were never enough, were never good as we are now. (In the same way we are never happy with what we have now, if we just have a little more, THEN we will be happy).

Once I read this quote by an artist that sums up the goal of advertisement: Advertisements are compost, I grow fruits on.
Interpreting the image, playing with the Image.
In most advertisements women are a product. They should consume clothes, rings, jewels and shoes, for men to consume them, fast and easy, not fast food but a fast fuck! That is the target I shoot at.

So all you can do really is: Not buy the products that use advertisement like that (or else that part of the system keeps on going). And make sure you know that you have to enjoy beauty in two ways, one that is digital/fake and one that is the beauty of the real people you meet. Don’t confuse the two.

The dichotomy between liberal and conservatives regarding this subject is complete non-sense in my opinion, it doesn’t adress the issue at all.

Profile photo of Jim Jim (@jimm) 3 years, 10 months ago ago

The key problem with advertising is also the key problem with life – mistaking ideas and images for reality.
Whilst the public are unable to discern between images and reality they will both be ripe for consumerism and ripe for relational conflict.

As a footnote, it’s crazy how the site’s tagline is “democracy in action”, then talks as if only 2 parties that are both sponsored by banks and corporations – and act mostly (almost completely) for the benefit of banks and corporations – comprises a democracy.

Profile photo of Em Em (@emily) 3 years, 10 months ago ago

Nice topic Bryan :) Yes it seems like this has been an issue for as long as I can remember. I’ll throw out some thoughts…in no particular order..
2) This IS a huge issue & I agree that this was an accurate video. When you apply this issue to people, and more specifically to women, I think you have to separate everyone into two categories..people who are more “awake” (for lack of a better term), meaning people who who understand that they are not victims, that they can choose to be happy, and know that they are beautiful & the only opinion of “you” that matters anyways is your own. Then –the other half, would be the people who believe in the lies and believe that true reality is the fake/digtal one. I don’t know if I’m making any sense—-but women who are more “evolved” so to speak: yes they know they’re beautiful, they aren’t victims, they can steer clear of the stereotypes & all that good stuff you were talking about Bryan. But then the women who believe the lies—-no, they will suffer… if for no other reason than “they don’t know any better” and they don’t know that they’re already perfect. So.. it’s not fair to point the finger at them and say, “if you don’t want to be treated like this or that, then don’t do it” “why can’t you stand above it?” or whatever,… they can’t rise above it all bc they believe in all the lies, and are confused with what’s real, and what’s fake.
1) I’d like to address your point Bryan about how men are also victims in ads. I will agree with you, you are right, and people tend to focus more on women on this issue. Butt.. the weight is more on the women’s side. Women are (almost) ONLY portrayed by the media as everything that was in that video-sexy etc etc. Men, sometimes are portrayed with pecs & all that—-but men are ALSO very clearly given the message–that’s it’s OK to be a fat lazy slob (women are NOT). Really tho—Homer Simpson, Al Bundy, Peter Griffin, and this image is also shown in movies & other shows. And it almost gives men a feeling of comfort, that to be like that is 1) ok 2) funny 3) completely socially acceptable….and in some few cases.. something to strive for. I’ve seen guys at parties comparing their beer guts “heh heh, I’m carrying twins.” I’m not saying there is anything at all wrong with this.. but I’m saying men are portrayed in lots of other ways, completely opposite ways also, than women…and women are almost if not always given the message that if they are not thin enough, no one will want them/like them… if they’re not pretty enough, it means that they are “nothing.” So–yes I hear you–but we (women) haven’t had a woman figure on the flip side of this issue since Rosanne (loved that show!). Wow I’m rambling! I didn’t mean to make this so long… one more point

3) I don’t see where liberal/conservative comes into play here either :)

Profile photo of Pikachu Pikachu (@pikachu) 3 years, 10 months ago ago

Excellent topic!! I must admit I fall victim to some of these add tactics… it is in our human nature.

Even this website is guilty of using such tactics. Look at this article featured on high existence: http://www.highexistence.com/why-marijuana-is-illegal/

Observe the picture of the attractive female with the low-cut shirt. Surely there are tons of other pictures that could have been used, but it is pretty clear why this one was chosen.

And it worked! I’m not saying that it was good or bad, but even if we aren’t consciously drawn to these types of images, our subconscious mind enjoys the simple human beauty.

I am an advocate of using simple, NATURAL human beauty in advertising. Parts of our mind enjoy the logic of a muscular man using exercise equipment as opposed to an overweight or underweight man. But when advertisers get carried away and use dishonest imagery to sell their products, it becomes an ethical problem.

They are exploiting the natural insecurities we feel about ourselves. Society conditions us to look perfect and behave well. Advertisements like these flourish because we, as a society, embrace them, and reward them with our business. Only an intellectual revolution on a massive scale will change the way business is done. But that means a change in natural human behavior. As long as we have our irrational human emotions, we will always have these advertisements. They are simply too effective as a business practice to abandon.

This is one problem no subset of the human race can “cure.” Unless you can think of a way to remove the sexual desires of a human, or the natural insecurities we feel (but that would remove our most cherished human quality: emotion).

I bet the society in the movie Equilibrium doesn’t have adds like these…
Personally, I’ll take these adds over the emotionless existence. But that’s just my little Pikachu brain in action ^_^

Profile photo of Jim Jim (@jimm) 3 years, 10 months ago ago

I haven’t see the movie Equilibrium, but as with the portrayal of Spock in Star Trek, people who don’t fully understand what emotion is create an idea of non-emotionalism – which of course is very unattractive.

It is possible however to live with a full emotional scale, but without emotions caused by illusions. The main factors of illusion are self-centredness, attachment, identification and objectification.
Live without these dominating and you live a deep and rich life.

Profile photo of Martijn Schirp Martijn Schirp A (@martijn) 3 years, 9 months ago ago

I like this girl alot and agree completely with her view on the matter:

Profile photo of Bryan Hellard Bryan Hellard M (@xyver) 3 years, 9 months ago ago

Its good to see she’s keeping her computer up to date.

But seriously, she says some good stuff.

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