The Over Haul of Advertisements

By on October 8, 2008

The cover of this September’s Vogue magazine screams, “798 Pages of Brilliant Fall Fashion,” but what it should say is, “798 Pages of Pure Fashion Advertising.” You may think that $4.99 is cheap for a magazine that is a little over an inch thick, but what you might not notice as you flip through Vogue’s glossy pages at your local bookstore or gas station is that you’re paying five bucks only to be promoted to spend more.

With all the advertising in magazines, should we be worried about the message being sent to women?

The models in fashion magazines all boast test tube-like traits: slender, tall, and glamorous. With images like these filling the pages of Vogue, Elle, and Vanity Fair, it’s no surprise that this concept becomes our idea of beauty. To add to their visually appealing image, these models are also portrayed as being cosmopolitan, seductive, and powerful. They give off the vibe: look this way, your life will be perfect.

With these inescapable fashion ads, more young women are striving to imitate the looks they see in their magazines, hoping for the kind of lives the advertisements promise. And they do make quite the promise: If you buy this face wash, your acne will disappear in three days. If you get these jeans, your thighs will look thinner. If you use this hair dye, you’ll get your crush to notice you.

“It’s unfortunate that girls feel they have to be up to par with what they see in magazines because most guys don’t expect girls to look like that. And it’s okay if they don’t,” Ben Portney, a freshman, said. “It’s how they present themselves. If they’re going to be all nervous and self-conscious than that’s not attractive, but if they’re confident, that is.”

All these pictures and risk-free guarantees are advertisements that fill the countless pages of magazines, and that’s something many women today do not understand. The images that fill these pages are not real. Those models are women – people just like everyone else. They get zits, they have bad hair days, they stress about what they look like on occasion. The pictures taken of these models are airbrushed and manipulated on large scales before gracing the pages of fashion spreads. Their job is to sell a product, and women across the country and around the world, are falling for this scam, and losing their self-esteem in the process.

The images of ‘the perfect body’ not only affect women, they affect men as well.

“Guys that are in magazines don’t look like that [in real life] either. There are pictures of guys in magazines with perfect bodies, and girls are like, ‘Look at him!’ I guess guys aren’t as self-conscious as girls, but they still are,” Portney said.

Some companies are taking a stand against the ‘thin is beautiful’ image. One of those companies in particular- Dove. Using a “Real Beauty” campaign, they promote their new lines of shampoos and body washes using real women of different sizes, ethnicities, and ages.

“I think [the Dove ads are] very empowering and appropriate to have in today’s society because real women don’t look like stick figures. It’s nice to see advertisements embracing the true female figure,” said Gisele Liakos, a freshman.

A major company like Dove, taking a stand against the typical image of beauty is a huge step, but it’s difficult to say whether or not their campaign for real beauty will have the desired effect. One thing that doesn’t seem to be going anywhere fast is the amount of ads in magazines. It’s just too lucrative a business for magazines. What we can hope for is instead of turning back page after page of emaciated model, we now see advertisements with real women as the main features.

“[The campaign has] been around for awhile and everything is pretty much the same. It’s just like shampoo so I don’t see how they’re going to change the world,” Hannah Woomer, a freshman, said. While girls continue to flip through the pages of their magazines- it seems as if only time will tell.


About Christina Nugent