Killing Women Softly
By Lina Goldman

Humans are exposed to hundreds and thousands of advertisements on a daily basis and are unconsciously influenced by the perfectly misguided messages that are displayed on many of these money-making billboards and television commercials. Considering that advertising is a 250 billion dollar industry, Jean Kilbourne once said that advertisements sell more than products. They sell values, images, concepts of love and sexuality and success, and most importantly, concepts of normalcy. Since childhood, through the use of Photoshop and manipulation of human values, it’s been implanted in women’s minds that working towards perfectionism; being the “ideal, flawless” human being, is a way of achieving confidence in themselves, and of earning acceptance in the high standards of society today.

Since the birth of modern advertising, after World War II, when the American industry began extending beyond its national borders, we have seen, as early as then, that women have been portrayed as “perfect” beings. From print ads of cigarette campaigns to female beauty & cosmetic products, it’s been evident that, up until today, advertising agencies tend to utilize highly attractive women or desirable phrases for the female audience as an effective method of increasing sales and revenue for the companies of their clients. Women are surrounded with images of ideal beauty and are subconsciously told that the most important thing is how we look. But what does this “perfect, flawless, ideal” woman consist of, that we, ladies, all dream of being?

I’d like to start off saying that the only perfect woman not even existing anywhere near this world is the girl that Barbie wishes she could be. Because even Barbie’s disproportionally skinny body figure has got hips too small for her waist, and legs twice the length of her upper body. Plus, she only ever seems to appear in public when she has layers of make up on her mistakenly gorgeous visage. But the perfect woman that we, either knowingly or unconsciously desire of being, is that lady you see with the complete absence of lines and wrinkles, scars and blemishes, and nor does she have any pores on her face. She also seems to have clear, glowing, tanned skin, with elongated, slim, slightly toned legs, perfectly round butt cheeks, and a hint of a female 6-pack. In Asian cultures, she’ll have milky white skin, silky straight, shiny hair, and a simply skinny, waist-less figure. So when these advertisements catch the attention of women (of all ages) on their way to school, work, the mall, home, or a date, their self-perception becomes distorted, they feel the need of having the flawlessness of these models, and then they may or may not decide to purchase these publicised products that make these mannequins oh, so damn perfect.

But the psychological impacts behind these advertisement campaigns have increasingly caused concern. Myself, being a woman, having gained experience and living for 16 years in the annual 9 billion dollar entertainment industry of South-east Asia’s major advertising hub, Thailand, have also noticed the effects they have had on me. I’m sure many of you, ladies, can agree with me that seeing advertisements with beautiful, skinny models pressure us to stay slim or lose weight so that we feel better in our own bodies and can compare ourselves to these lovely figures. This is a clear piece of evidence that supports the distortion of female self-perception through advertisements. Because advertisements majorly display images of photoshopped, cropped women living beautiful lives, society as a whole has developed higher standards of women in general, and women have developed higher expectations of themselves.

Published on 13th May, 2015

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