Friday, September 13, 2013

Beauty and the Fake

Recently, I watched a video in my Marriage and Family class that I had also watched in my Sociology class last year, entitled, Killing Us Softly 4 by Jean Kilbourne. It's a video that mostly talks about women and how they are sexualized in media today. There is little that talks about men, but mostly because the way men are sexualized in media are different and much less detrimental to their well-being than with women.

Watching this had an impact on me because I think that mainstream media has brainwashed everyone (men and women both) into seeking an ideal portrayed through ads that no female can ever reach. I know that I, myself, have been victim to this, always believing that because I had acne or because certain parts of my body didn't match up to the pictures I saw, that the way I looked was never good enough. I've heard guy friends talking about physical traits they want to see in a girl that most girls don't have or that are really shallow. When I was a camp counselor this summer to eight- and nine-year-old girls, they were already talking about being fat and wanting to lose weight and put on makeup to look prettier. I was quite disgusted and told my girls that they are way to young to be thinking about those kinds of issues and that they are beautiful just the way they are.

Source: NY Times

Killing Us Softly 4 talked about how much we subconsciously take in from these ads. Women are dehumanized, sexualized, and looked upon as helpless, and as a society, we all subconsciously agree with the ads, whether we like to admit it or not. The picture above shows just a woman's legs, objectifying her by not giving her a face, and she is in a position that makes her look like she could be dead, if you really think about it. It is images like these that can cause men to think that violence towards women is okay, even if they won't outright admit it, or may not even know it.

I was originally going to use a picture that might as well be pornography to help my point, but it was so indecent that I couldn't even bear to keep it on my post as I typed. It was an ad for a clothing company in London, where the girl was wearing a beanie with pom-poms that barely covered her nipples. Pictures like those showing almost the entire naked body are supposed to be selling clothes. Where are they? And when we keep being exposed to pictures of women with perfectly round breasts, clear faces, and really skinny bodies, we think that is what we need to be to be attractive or beautiful. It also influences guys also think that way too, and they are disappointed when the girls in front of them don't match up to those fake pictures. For some magazine photos, editors will use portions from different faces to make one very flawless and unrealistic picture.

The famous Dove commercial on the "Evolution of Beauty" got a lot of attention when it highlighted how drastically models are photoshopped to make them appear "perfect." Not even the models can match the standard we see on magazines and in ads. It's not real.

Don't get me wrong, it's not always bad to look at fashion magazines and to want to wear makeup and look nice and lose weight to be healthy if necessary. I just think that many of us (myself included) get caught up in all of it and lose sight of why we're really doing what we do. Am I wearing makeup because I enjoy it and like taking extra time to look nice or am I hiding my acne scars? When we do these kinds of things, we need to ask ourselves these kinds of questions everyday. I see all of this as a constant self-reflection on our own parts.

Media. It has a very powerful effect on us, whether we like it or not. It's up to us to be intentional with how we react after seeing it and knowing how it effects us, men and women alike. Us women need to constantly check up on ourselves and make sure that when we dress up or think about our appearance, we need to check why we're doing what we're doing and why we think that way. As for the men, they need to realize that the women they see on tv and in magazines aren't real. And seeing women being taken advantage of in ads is no excuse for a man to do the same in real life.


  1. This is a really good post, right up my street. I wrote about sexualisation for my Masters dissertation and some of the fashion images I found were horrendous. There was one Calvin Klein one which looks like the woman is being raped, but most people wouldn't bat an eye about it because they're seen so often. It's horrible and I worry about the way advertising affects me. Even though I'm a feminist, I still find it really hard to not feel bad about myself.

    1. I think I've seen that one! Yeah, when I started paying more attention to the types of ads that are around, I started to see just how demented this industry is. It makes me really sad because I love dressing up and all of that, but I also have to remind myself at times why I'm doing it.


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