Get Real: The Truth Behind Women and Advertising


Advertising has been the crux of conversation among media analysts when addressing the fragile esteem of young girls. It’s no secret that ad agencies specifically target their delicate egos as if by saying: if you do not obtain my product, you are worthless. Women, then, are not only buying products, but also investing their money and worth on unobtainable images of perfection. According to Jean Killbourne’s The More You Add, the More You Subtract, “Girls try to make sense of the contradictory expectation of themselves in a culture dominated by advertising.” In turn, ad agencies hope to create brand loyalties, ensuring customers for life. Killbourn also mentions that women spend 4 billion a year on cosmetics alone. By continuing to feed these brands with revenue, they continue to feed us with lies.

There are reoccurring themes within luxury brands, for example, that promote the idea that women are subordinate to men, often as sex symbols or that women will remain submissive when encountering violent acts. The ideal woman is someone who can easily attract men and keep their interest through sex appeal. In Jean Killbourne’s Cutting Girls Down to Size, she writes that feminine means “to be nice and kind and sweet, to compete with other girls for the attention of boys, and to value romantic relationships with boys above all else.” Women are not valued for their character or their intelligence. Instead, they are reduced to physical appeal.


Take this Dolce and Gabba advertisement, for example. Ultimately, Dolce and Gabbana is advertising clothing, jewlery, etc. However, the model also seems to be showcasing her sexual power over men. Although seemingly unperterbed,  the average consumer would feel uncomfortable with this encounter in real life. The disconnect between fantasy and reality with the objectification of women acts as the fuel for these companies.


However, not all companies are willing to turn the other cheek. The lingerie brand Aerie, under American Eagle, recently launched their newest ad campaign that boasts non photoshopped models. According to the Huffington Post, Aerie’s is “aimed at the 15-21 year old demographic, meaning young women in high school and college. And it’s widely held — and proven by numerous studies and surveys — that young women’s sense of body confidence is so often influenced by the images of female beauty they see in media.”

Moreover, Europen singer/song writer Boggie used a music video to demonstrate how drastically photoshop could alter someone’s appearance.

The world of media isn’t perfect. Through education, women can scrutnize the media and hold themselves to more realistic standards – standards with more substance: solid character, a bright mind, and beauty reflected from the inside out – something an image could never portray.

Kristine Villanueva

Killbourne, Jean The More You Add the More You Subtract

Killbourne, Jean Cutting Girls Down to Size

The Huffington Post


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