The Image of Women in Advertising

I wonder what the Impressionist painter, Renoir would think of the world today and in particular, the advertising industry, were he to come back to earth for a day!

My guess is he would be suitably ‘unimpressed’! In his day, women were curvy, voluptuous and ‘real’ and life was a lot less complicated! Nowadays, advertising is a multi-million industry and one in which virtually anything is possible if it means selling products to the masses.

But advertisers sell more than just products. They sell values, images, concepts of love, sexuality,  success and ‘normalcy.’ They tell us who we are and who we should be. Women, especially so (but men also, to some extent.)

From an early age, females are being encouraged to spend vast amounts of money and energy on how to achieve the perfect look. Many end up feeling at best guilty and at worse, depressed when they ‘fail’. Failure it WILL certainly be, because it is impossible to look like this!

Computer technology now enables photographs to be ‘air-brushed’ so that women can have bigger or smaller breasts, longer legs, wrinkle-free faces etc. Nobody can live up to such an image! It is not real!  Even Cindy Crawford has been quoted as saying, “I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford!’

Furthermore, it seems that we are living in a culture where women’s bodies are being turned into objects in adverts. Their bodies are ‘dismembered’ and just one part of the body is focused on. This in effect ‘ de-humanises’ us.

The models themselves are getting thinner and thinner. Little wonder then, that we are facing an epidemic of eating disorders. On this matter, I consider the term, ‘the western civilised world’, a bit of an irony when you consider that there are still people starving on this planet!

I am glad to say that some time ago, the actress, Kate Winslet made her views quite plain when GQ Magazine published a front cover photograph of her that had been digitally enhanced to make her legs look thinner. She stated, “I don’t look like that and more importantly, I don’t want to look like that!”

So what can we do about all of this? More comments such as Kate’s can obviously help and I am glad to see that many companies including Debenhams, are beginning to use ‘real’ people / models in their advertising campaigns

Being ‘aware’ of what is happening is a start. It is important for us to have a ‘healthy’ desire to look good. We should make the most of our good points and learn to love and accept ourselves as we are, instead of striving for the impossible. This surely, is a much happier and simpler way to live for us all.