According to a writer from the Media Awareness Network, marketers are held responsible for “systematically creating anxiety, promoting envy, and fostering feelings of inadequacy and insecurity to sell us their products. ” While these marketers believe that advertising only “mirrors society’s values” and alerts them to new products and bargains, they are either oblivious to their detrimental effects on society, specifically the teenage and female markets, or are ignorant to the truth.
The Media Awareness Network evaluates the self-perceptions we gain from advertising whether it be false or strictly informational and the subliminal messaging we receive from these manipulators. The Media Awareness Network asserts that because advertisements are everywhere in our society, and they “sink images into our conscious and unconscious minds. ” We are psychologically flooded by the inaccurate portrayals of what advertisers consider to be “the modern woman” or “the modern man”.
Advertisers also present women and men with ideas that are not true- they flood their capacities with the ideas that their priorities in life should be getting a desirable man, or having the “perfect, hot body”. According to the article, “Seldom are women shown in work settings, business roles, or positions of responsibility and authority… Our society recognized many valid roles for women, but this isn’t always reflected in ads. ” The racial facet plays a critical role in advertisements, as “the advertising industry favors models with facial features that look Anglo, even if the model is Black or Hispanic. Looks and appearances play another important role in advertisements- as inaccurate as they may be. According to the Media Awareness Network, “Researchers have found that girls and women who work as models weigh 23% less than the average female their age. And the hips of an average department store mannequin measure six inches less than that of the average young woman. ” These unrealistic portrayal of “beautiful” women destroy the self-esteem of young women (and men, too) who are absorbed into advertisements by the constant streaming of television, magazine, and radio advertisements.
These inaccurate portrayals are devastating to our generation. “80% of 10-year-old girls report having dieted and eight million American women suffer from anorexia or bulimia, two potentially life-threatening eating disorders. ” The sadness part of this is that these “beautiful” women in advertisements are not only rare- they’re not real. Makeup artists, photographers, and photographic retouchers are hired as illustrators of the perfect illusion. The models photographed and pictured in advertisements are retouched- The models are not even perfect. An article on the comparison between body image and advertising reveals some shocking facts.
According to the article, “The average woman sees 400 to 600 advertisements per day, and by the time she is 17 years old, she has received over 250,000 commercial messages through the media. ” This statistic is such a true testament to accessibility of the media, and the conscious flooding of advertisers. The statistics become even more and more shocking. “One study of Saturday morning toy commercials found that 50% of commercials aimed at girls spoke about physical attractiveness, while none of the commercials aimed at boys referred to appearance.
Other studies found 50% of advertisements in teen girl magazines and 56% of television commercials aimed at female viewers used beauty as a product appeal. ” Advertisers are aiming their messages at a demographic that has already developed negative self-esteem. What will be the effects if women develop these attitudes and bring them on to others? The effects could be devastating. According to the article, “Eighty percent of 10-year-old girls have dieted, and at any one time, 50% of American women are currently dieting. 10 year old girls, 3rd and 4th graders, should not be worried about dieting or weight loss. If in 2011, 10 year old girls are concerned about losing weight, what young demographics will be suffering from low self-esteem if we continue these devastating advertisement schemes 10 years from now? Young females are not the only demographics targeted in advertisements- “Many males are becoming insecure about their physical appearance as advertising and other media images raise the standard and idealize well-built men.
Researchers are concerned about how this impacts men and boys, and have seen an alarming increase in obsessive weight training and the use of anabolic steroids and dietary supplements that promise bigger muscles or more stamina for lifting. ” PBS. org’s lesson plan for students of all ages “Exploring Media Messages” is one of the aims that takes a lash at the negative effects of advertisements. Some of the objectives of the lesson are “to give participants guidance in taking a stand against negative media images”, “to explore where each individual stands on the issues of advertising and self-image”, and ultimately, “to help students learn to elieve in themselves and not compare themselves to unrealistic model images”. The lesson requires that students look at advertisements and break down the compartments of the advertisements- the images of the models, the wording used, and the ultimate message given. It also suggests that students compare role models of modern advertisements to those of the 1950’s and 1970’s and to note the main contrasts within them. Advertisers have been manipulating and forming inaccurate images of women to alert potential customers to new products and bargains- but do they know the effect they have on young women’s self esteem?
While they claim that the worst these advertisements can do is annoy a customer, they are incredibly detrimental to the self esteem of young women especially, but also to many other demographics. Girls as young as 10 years old have considered weight loss because of the inaccurate portrayals of “the modern girl” or “the modern woman” in advertisements. If more programs like the Media Awareness Network can get role models with real bodies and real lives to speak for their causes, less young women can suffer from the poor self-esteem that girls in our generation suffer from.