MediaRepresentationEssayPaper - Wang Sharon Wang Feminist...

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Sharon Wang Feminist Studies 20 Chrissy Lau F 9:00 – 9:50 AM 4 November 2008 The Effects of the Representation of Women in Advertisements on Body Image The media undoubtedly influences the public’s opinions and beliefs. The question is: how much control does the media, specifically advertisement, have over us? The current trend is to be thin and this bodily ideal is reinforced by advertisements in all mediums— television, radio, magazines, Internet, etc. The ads consist only of flawless, slender women who exemplify femininity. The overrepresentation of perfectly slim and beautiful women in advertisements causes female consumers to feel dissatisfied with their own bodies and to feel encouraged to “enhance” their bodies so as to achieve the same immaculate appearance. Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” in 2004 adapted feminist principles, promoting “real” beautiful women in their advertisements (Taylor 128). Billboards with women, varying in age, ethnicity and body size, clad in only their bras and underwear sparked widespread interest in Dove’s new charitable campaign. These women did not look at all like the typical young and thin white woman in an advertisement. They differed in skin color, hair type, age, and body type. This campaign endorsed the beauty of these regular women, simultaneously denouncing the superficial views of beauty and persistent gender norms. However, most of the Dove models are attractive, fair-skinned and relatively thin. So the advertisement produced is not completely inclusive of all types of women. But the message is clear: everyone is beautiful. The Dove campaign considers it a “social imperative for a woman to be and feel beautiful” (Taylor 133). This belief then demands that women maintain their 1
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physical appearance so that they are “beautiful” and purchase Dove beauty products. Big advertising companies, firms, leading scholars, and the media target female consumers everywhere through the Dove campaign. “Dove uses a multi-million dollar, multi- media marketing campaign” (Taylor 128). It is funded by powerful companies and utilizes well-known people to support it. “The campaign was orchestrated by some of the most powerful advertising, research, and public relations firms in the world” (Taylor 131). Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” obviously is not a non-profit organization motivated to switch the gender roles and liberate feminine beauty standards.
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