The makeup, diet product, and cosmetic surgery industries spend billions of dollars each year advertising their wares and services to women, and profit even more because their advertisements are so successful in convincing women that they truly need these items or procedures. Advertisers have many methods used to seduce women into buying products, including creating the illusion that there is an “ideal” beautiful woman, providing testimonials about their products from celebrities, and promising impossible results with altered, deceitful images retouched with computer graphics programs like Photoshop.
The most obvious method that advertisers use to persuade women to buy their products is to convince them that they need makeup, diet products, or cosmetic surgery in order to live up to the illusion that there is an “ideal” woman. Advertisers promote this “ideal” woman with the images of their models, and even though this “ideal” body type represents only five percent of women, this “ideal” woman appears in 98% of advertising and media (Michaelides 1). It is sad that advertisers do not represent the vast scope of shapes, sizes, skin color, and spectrum of beauty that exists in women around the world. They choose to focus on the illusion that only one type of woman is beautiful. Unfortunately, it seems that promoting variety in body type is not what sells products; instead, these ads convince women that they are simply not good enough without investing in these items or services.
Celebrity testimonials are everywhere for makeup, diet products, and cosmetic surgery. People in general place a lot of trust in what famous people have to say. A quick glance at the Weight Watchers website shows an ecstatic Jennifer Hudson, the singer, with the words, “Start losing weight now. I have, and you can too.” Many women are susceptible to this type of testimonial because they believe that the rich and famous know secrets about life, beauty, money, and happiness that they can learn, too, if they buy the products that their favorite singers, actresses, and models are being paid to represent.
Another insidious technique used by advertisers is airbrushing or computer manipulation of images with programs like Photoshop. “Dalma Heyn, editor of two women’s magazines, confirms that airbrushing . . . is routine” (Wolf 82). Because of this image retouching, when a woman looks at an advertisement for a beauty or diet product, she is looking at an impossible ideal. Even if she invests in the product advertised, the touched-up image promises impossible results. As she compares herself to advertisements’ images, she risks lower self-esteem at being unable to match the results the product offers. The results of misleading advertisements are, at best, a never-ending cycle of spending more money on new products in order to try to attain the elusive ideal, and at worst a descent into life-threatening illnesses such as anorexia or bulimia.
The techniques that advertisers use, like creating the illusion that there is an “ideal” woman, providing celebrity testimonials, and presenting manipulated images, are very unhealthy for women. Advertisers lead women to believe that if they try hard enough, they can look just like the models and celebrities who have the help of professional makeup artists, style consultants, and Photoshop to perfect their images.
Michaelides, Alyssa. “Hidden Messages: Advertising and the Messages They Send to Society about Women.” Eastern Michigan University Senior Honors Theses (2005). Web.
Wolf, Naomi. The Beauty Myth. New York: Harper Perennial, 2002. Print.