What is the price for the beauty? Cruel games we are involved in

  • Overall discomfort
  • Low self-esteem
  • Sociophobia
  • Distorted body schema
  • Eating disorders
  • Depression
  • …Want more?

What do all these things have in common? They are all effects of the idealization of the female beauty in the media sphere. Let’s watch this clip showing the process of creating a glamorous face in adverts:

It is obvious that those charming images we see on the streets, on the pages of  magazines and on TV are products of a huge professional team that includes make-up artists, hairstylist, photographers, designers and editors. But this knowledge does not belittles the effect on women’s mentality that urges them 1) to buy ‘beauty’ items and  2) to feel uncomfortable and dissatisfied in their own body. 

I am aware of I am not the first who discusses this problem. However, I am convinced that business still has not realised all the seriousness of the damage it may do.

The mechanism that causes psychological problems of the female consumers is quite simple. We are bombarded with lots of advertising messages every day. Specifically, those relating to the beauty industry basically say to us, ‘Look at this pretty model. You do not look like her, but you may approximate to her if you buy this product’,  ‘Come on. Get more beautiful by making purchase”. No money no honey. In my opinion, this phrase is completely about beauty industry. What’s more in most cases this paradigm eliminates the idea of the initial personal beauty that is given to everyone and establishes market relationships that push women not only to buy cosmetics and ‘beauty’ pills, but also go for the radical measures like plastic surgery. Advertisers work closely with magazines that have a preference for ‘perfect’ faces as well as for slim bodies. Analysis of several articles about eating disorders in popular magazines done by Kurz and Whitehead (2008) highlights the fact that anorexia, even though showed as non-healthy, perceived much more desirable than obesity. That means that thinness is more successful in fitting the social market (!) criteria of the ‘real’ femininity than corpulence. 

I want to stop here for today and continue to talk about this issue next time. =) In the following post I am going to give concrete figures and more thoughts on this topic.

P.S. To anticipate some comments  I’d like to give a well-known exemption.

Dove is an example (but the only famous one) of an attempt to exploit the image of the real natural beauty in advertising campaign. Here is pro-age advert:

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3 responses

  1. It is amazing how we seem to idealize the pictures we see in media these days. Despite these pictures being photoshopped and toyed around with we still desire to look like these people. I think the main problem lies with adolescent girls being exposed to such images, adolescent girls tend to be more influenced by their role models. I think this study will be in particular intrest to you, http://smccd.net/accounts/brownm/Images/Media/FijiTVreading.pdf
    The study talks about the impact that TV exposure had on a rural Fijian adolescent girls, and how TV exposure made them more susceptible to eating disorders. After 3 years of TV exposure these fijian girls were striving to conform with what is an ideal westernised body image. This just demonstrates the media’s power to influence people’s perceptions of what is right.

  2. Your blog is really interesting and shares a strong relation to my own where marketing strategies are examined, revealing an underlying message by cosmetic companies. I completely agree with you about the fact that we know these women aren’t ‘real’ in such advertisements yet we still let it influence our decisions. You might be interested to know that research by Victor S Johnston (1993) concluded that ‘the concept of facial beauty is the result of sexual selection, and a beautiful female face has features and proportions indicative on high fertility.’ I particularly like how you explore the effects of such marketing on teens. I don’t think this is highlighted enough in the beauty industry.

  3. This is an interesting blog showing how marketing is highly distorted to create a beautiful image. Its un-natural and this is what is shown to create a dilusion in the consumers eyes, this as we know creates problems with health within the young and in my opinion needs to be stopped so that the enhancement of artificial beauty is stopped. I also understand that it is important from a marketing perspective for all these things to be like this so that sales can be made – but I think the consumer affect needs to be considered also and a more realistic image needs to be publicised.

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