Friday, December 28, 2012

Depression Continues to Suck, and Advertising is So Manipulative

Hello Friends:

I can't believe it, I'm posting again.  Wow.  That is about the longest time away from posting since I started this blog.  Depression is a nasty, nasty beast.  I'm still feeling pretty down, but things are improving.  Case in point - here's a post.

Thanks to everybody for sticking with me, here.  I hate it when my crazies make it hard for me to post.  Worse, I hate that first post after a long time away.  This post.  I get this idea that by being away I've somehow 'broken' my blog, or made it messy or less useful or what have you.  I know those thoughts are depression having its way with me.  I have them every single time.  But I really love this blog, and the community of bloggers (you) that I've met through it.  There are so many great blogs out there, and even if I'm not writing, I'll still try to keep up with my reading as I can.

Okay, so here is my topic for today - punchline - why do we let advertisers tell us what is beautiful?

Note the loaded picture on this post.  Someone on facebook posted this comparison image of two different advertising campaigns.  The poster's comment was a bit of a knee-jerk reaction, sort of with a "top image bad and lower image good" feeling.  But that's not at all how it strikes me.  Instead, it makes me irked at advertising in general.

It is hard to look at this comparison image and not immediately pass some kind of judgement, good or bad, and usually on ourselves.  The Victoria's Secret campaign is much like all of their other campaigns - their models have a very uniform look.  The Dove campaign is actually also much like other Dove campaigns.  They have a lot of products, and they all try to appeal to a desire to look a certain way.  You would think the "Real Beauty" campaign was different from the VS "Love My Body" campaign - after all, there is more variation in body type in the lower image - but in many critically important ways, it is just the same as any other advertising campaign out there.

They want to sell us stuff, and they will show us whatever they think will get us buying.

Women who look like the VS models, or want to look like that, will respond positively to the VS campaign.  Women who look like the Dove models, or who want to look like that, will respond positively to the Dove campaign.  Yet each of these would suggest that, at the least, beauty requires great skin.  Even the images from the "Real Beauty" campaign have been touched up, which isn't a surprise unless you've forgotten their point is to make us buy their stuff.

So I'll reiterate my punchline which is, why do we let them manipulate us with images like this?  Why do we let them tell us what is beautiful?  Why do we allow comparisons like this to tweak us into deciding what is or isn't how a woman should look?  Why does Dove get to define "real beauty?"  Why does VS get to tell us how to "love our body?"  All these women, both in the upper and lower picture, have their own beauty.  So do we, even if we are not in an advertising campaign.  I'm tired of having them tell me how big/little, old/young, tall/short, or whatever/whatever is the right ratio for beauty.  I'd like to just be healthy.  And I don't want them to tell me what is healthy for me or for someone else, either.  Only that particular woman knows what is healthy for her.

Do pictures like this tweak you as much as they do me?  I know next time I see images like this, or any kind of advertising image, I'm going to think first of how I am reacting, and why.  How do the images make me feel about the women pictured?  About myself?  And then, what is it I now feel like buying?  (Or how does it affect what I then go and eat?)  I know these are questions I'm going to ask myself a lot more often.

Your Hostess With Neuroses

Image credit/info: VS and Dove advertising campaigns

7 comments:

Tina Fariss Barbour said...

Glad to see you back!

This is a very thought-provoking post. I had not thought how BOTH advertising campaigns are trying to tell us what is beautiful and and trying to sell us something. It's a good question that you ask: why do we let advertisers tell us what is beautiful--or healthy or good? I don't know, but I hope I will look at advertisements with more thought.

71º & Sunny said...

Welcome back!

Yes, these images do make me react strongly, and usually in a negative fashion towards myself. Sigh.

I will say it's very interesting to see the two pictures next to each other. Normally, when I see the VS adds, I feel awful about myself. However, now that I see the VS add next to the Dove add, honestly, I think all the VS models sadly look like they have eating disorders, and it is not attractive to me at all. I think that is the first time I've ever seen a VS add and thought that they were not attractive. Very interesting.

Katie Elizabeth said...

Advertising and the whole Hollywood careers bothers me. Why do all the girls on there have to be skinny, with abs, and looking perfect. I look at that Dove campaign and can't help but pass judgement. I'm glad that you're back as well.
XOXO

middle child said...

I do not like Dove products but I do like their commercials. To me it is like they are saying real people are people too!

Sheri Weinberg said...

*waves* Nice to see you again, although I'm sorry you've been struggling so much.

I'm certain the media has a great deal to do with eating disorders and our own self-image. I just read an interesting article about vanity sizing. How what is considered a 12 today was a 14 years ago, and how many of the big-name retailers don't even have consistent sizing within their own products. It's all to create the illusion that we are thinner than we know we are, which unfortunately society makes us want to be.

Amy said...

And of course the question: why can't those women love their bodies/be beautiful WITH SOME CLOTHES ON??

It the perpetuation of the objectification/sexualization of women that really, really gets to me. We're encouraged by advertising to look at women's bodies--or certain body parts--to find beauty, rather than the whole package of a women's spirit, intelligence, humor, and the way she presents herself.

I can honestly say that I love my body more than I love the bodies of those VS models. They scare me. I wonder if they really love their bodies.

Ashley Smith said...

Hi,

I think we can extend the whole advertising/media question to ask: why does society accept scary images of individuals living with mental illness but question body images and in response self-image?!

P.S. Thank you for sharing my blog!

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