By Chantyle R.
In our life time, we might not realize that we’re persuaded to buy things that we see on advertisements. Every day we come across an add that tries to manipulate or persuade us to consume what they’re showing. Men and women are used in ads because people are defined by their gender and can be easily relatable which gives the advertiser power to get others attention towards the ad (Jacobson and Mazur, 2013.) Although both genders are seen in the media, there happens to be gender-role stereotypes. The image of females have changed a lot through time, and not for the better. As for men, they have always been given the higher power in advertisements, but can be influenced by ads they come across. The way both genders are being represented in the media effect consumers by the way they should live in society.
When I see women in ads, they’re presented to look far from what most people in society look like today. Women are seen to be thin, beautiful, and sexually powerful. These women are supposedly accepted as “beautiful” in this society, which challenges and sets a standard for women to look this certain way. Women are also shown to be housewives, fragile, unintelligent or a damsel in distress which gives the impression that women are weak. Women in different races are represented differently as well compared to other races. Latinas are portrayed as being seductive and curvy. A good example would be Jennifer Lopez; she has a nice figure that a lot of women admire or wish they had. Black women are mainly in American magazines and they’re mainly “white washed” within their appearance. Beyonce’s L’Oreal hair color commercial is a good example of black women being white washed in ads. If you look at a ordinary picture of Beyonce, she is much darker than she appears in the L’Oreal ad. The L’Oreal ad shows her with blond hair and really light colored skin. As for Asians, they’re stereotyped as nerds or bad communicators. In commercial ads, you’ll mostly see Asians as technology experts. Someone telephone ads coming up to them asking about a new phone and of course, the Asian character usually has the answer. Whites are the golden standard because they represent a women that is beautiful with nice fair skin, golden hair, a thin body and successful or rich.
The way women are shown through advertising can leave the female audience to feel pressured to meet a certain standard. They think that the only way to be accepted in this society is to have curves, be thin, and have sexual power. They are also more likely to have those comparisons affect their self-worth, leading to feelings of depression, body dissatisfaction and preoccupation with diet and exercise (Rutner, 2006.) This gives women a reason to be insecure about their body and the ads suggest their products can correct any insecurity problems. Women are likely to put themselves through anorexia or bulimia in order to meet the thin standards society has put up. Other consequences of advertisements may cause some women to get surgery done to their body. Plastic surgery ads are another factor in pressuring women to change what they look like in society. Some ads show before and after surgery results which gets women to think they should get things done.
Many advertisements use sex imagery that is on the borderline towards pornography to encourage us buy products. This gives advertisers the power to show women as sex objects and gives men a higher chance to violence towards women. Advertisements show women to be the care takers of the family. Their job is to focus on keeping the house clean and taking care of the children while the husband is out at work. In Desperate Housewives, Bree Van De Kamp fits the picture of a traditional wife or care taker. She is a stay at home mom, rich, beautiful thin body, and intelligent. Her husband was a doctor that brought home the money to support his family. This sends a message to society that women are not capable of being workers and are only good for raising a family and keeping themselves young and beautiful. Although women are much more independent then they were in history, women are still shown to be sensitive and weak compared to men. Susan Meyer, another Desperate Housewives character, was usually seen as a sensitive and weak housewife. She was always going back to her ex-husband, but sensitive to the plumber she was in love with. The plumber left her a few times and she shown weakness by blaming herself for everything.
Men in advertising are represented differently than women. Men are shown to be strong, alpha male, and successful. They participate more in political and economical issues in advertising. The men are shown to be providers of their family by going to work and bring home the money. This also gives them the role of the Alpha Male. Compared to women, men are looked highly upon because of how they have a much higher education than women. The White man is usually represented as very successful, intelligent, and a strong leader in society. They are able to take care of the women, themselves, and still look good. This idea gives male audience an ideal perfect man that can survive in this time. Derek Shepherd from Grey’s Anatomy is a great example for these characteristics. Shepherd, a white male and also a father, is the head neurosurgeon for Seattle Grace Hospital. He is very wealthy, and his job requires him to be very intelligent. He is a great provider for his family and gets paid a few millions in a year. Shepherd provided his family space to build their dream home and help buy the hospital that he works in.
There are other negative characteristics of men in the media where they’re shown as uneducated, gangsters, thieves, low income and big time criminals. Usually the Latinos and African Americans are known to be portrayed as these characteristics. These representations of men portrays and gives acceptance to men to act a certain way in society. As for Latinos and Blacks, they give the audience a message that they’re dangerous in our society. They can’t provide much for their family because of having a low education and no reliable income. Some movie ads show black males or Latinos stealing a white women’s purse, or hanging out in a dark alley looking less than an average white male. These movie advertisements show parts of the movie, but they show society what they’re expected to see in the movie and can be related to real life.
Men are also prone to get sucked into plastic surgery ads. There are a lot of males getting face surgeries, Botox, weight loss surgeries, hair transplants and different kinds of injections. A 33 year-old male, Toby Sheldon, paid $100k to make himself look like Justin Bieber. Sheldon started off with hair transplants, and paid more to look like Bieber. Within the past 5 years, Sheldon has gotten a lot of work done to his face. It doesn’t really seem like he looks like Justin Bieber, but Sheldon says that he sometimes gets mistaken for the Biebs. Sheldon also states that he couldn’t be any happier with the way he looks now.
Overall, men and women are shown through a different light in advertisements. Not all women must be thin or curvy to be beautiful and not all men have to be educated to be successful. Sexism has an effect of consumers because they feel that the only way to be accepted in society is to look or be a certain way. I don’t think society should become insecure just because of what the media is advertising the way men and women should be. The audience should be more aware of what is true in real life and what's false in ads. We’re not all the same and we come from different background, so we shouldn’t compare ourselves to what the media thinks is right. Advertisers shouldn’t be allowed to paint a picture of the way society should be like. Every one should be able to feel comfortable in their own skin and not have to compare themselves to the men and women in ads.
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