The Truth In Advertisements

Advertisements can be found all over the place– whether in the subway stations, on buses or taxis, on billboards in the city, and many other common places whether or not you may notice them. Most of these advertisements specifically use women as models and the central character in order to try to attract more people to the product. Unfortunately, sexism plays a large role in the aspect of using these women in advertisements. The majority of these advertisements imply that apparently, the more skin you show, the better your product will do in the overall market. Women are often portrayed to be nude or half-naked in advertisements, as “sexually appealing” beings to the viewers of the ads, as a marketing technique to get more people to buy into the products which the companies are promoting and trying to sell. Although you may not even notice it, when you pay close attention, nearly every advertisement that uses women as characters, whether in the form of billboard advertisements or commercial videos, portrays these women in this “sexually appealing” manner in order to reel in more potential consumers.

Rihanna for Supreme by Terry Richardson


Wonderbra Advertisement


These same women being placed in advertisements are being inaccurately portrayed as the “average woman”, and are found usually showing unnecessary and excessive amounts of skin, weighing significantly lighter than a woman’s healthy and average weight, possibly having larger and rounder breasts, and just overall displayed in an unfortunately derogatory and oversexualized manner in order to appeal more towards the general public. As a matter of fact, some of these women are just edited to look a certain type of way, according to Naomi Wolf. In one of her books, Wolf stated, “Photographs of the bodies of models are often trimmed with scissors. ‘Computer imaging’– the controversial new technology that tampers with photographic reality– has been used for years in women’s magazines’ beauty advertising (Wolf, 83)” [1]. This means that some of the bodies of these women placed in advertisements are not even how they naturally look, and are just edited in order to look more like the new American standard of how an “average” or “good-looking” woman is supposed to look like.


An issue that plagues women due to some of these advertisements is self-consciousness about their body. According to an article (womeninads) [2], the average woman in America is approximately 5’4″ tall and 140 pounds, while the average model in America is approximately 5’7″ tall and 117 pounds. Also, it was found in a survey from the same article that about 47% of girls were influenced by advertisements seen in magazines, but only about 29% of them were actually overweight. Advertisements have a very powerful role in today’s society, and affect these women into believing that these edited images are how they should actually look, when in reality, the pictures of the women on these advertisements should have nothing to do with how other women should keep and maintain their bodies. The great amount of advertisements in which women are portrayed as tall, skinny figures is what is causing a lack of self-confidence in females today. They give women an idea of this supposed “ideal” body type which they should try to achieve, even though this “ideal” body type is not necessarily the body type preferred by all men, and just an image created by today’s society.

Nike Advertisement

It is still possible to create advertisements without portraying women the way that a majority of these ads do. Wolf states, “Women see the Face and the Body all around them now because culture magically manifests a transparent male fantasy, but because advertisers need to sell products in a free-for-all of imagery bombardment on lowering women’s self-esteem (Wolf, 84).” However, there have been advertisements that used different strategies in order to sell their products, without necessarily having to use the body of a woman to try to sell their products. For example, the image above just shows person’s hand holding a helmet, with text to the left of it. Nike used this advertisement and still managed to generate a large amount of sales with it, without having to display any provocative images of women, or pulling up models to promote the company. Companies should take this for example, since Nike is arguably one of the most well-known and successful companies in today’s market. Instead of relying on women to sell their products, the Nike brand uses creative advertisements targeting the general population, whenever they want to promote something. (

Women 'suffer poor self-esteem due to airbrushing in advertising'

The advertisements which inaccurately portray women such as the one above creates a large and ongoing problem in today’s society. The photographers and photoeditors used airbrushing techniques and photo-editing software in order to hide the imperfections on her face, as well as slim down her waist, trying to make her as attractive as she possibly can. Due to this, self-esteem is lowered a lot more than it should, unnecessarily, even though advertisements do not necessarily have to include these photoshopped women in them. According to an article written by Telegraph UK who conducted a research among 1,000 women, “a total of 96 percent of women questioned for the Dove research said they felt the models used in beauty advertising are not a realistic representation of women today. [3]” If only 4 percent of these women think differently, some of those 4 probably even being hesitant, there is clearly something wrong with this. Some of these models themselves even know that their bodies will be edited to look different and more “appealing” to the standard given by today’s society. These advertisements may work for some people, but in all honesty, there are other ways for companies to promote products without having to inaccurately and offensively  portray women. Sure, it may work on some people, but it is not the only way to sell products.

Works Cited

[1] Wolf, Naomi. The Beauty Myth: How Images of Beauty Are Used against Women. New York: W. Morrow, 1991.




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