Since the time communication process came into being, role of both electronic and print media has increased where they communicate all sorts of information to people across the globe. In the nineteenth and the twentieth century media has gone to unattainable heights and now in our times it is accessible to almost all parts of the globe. It introduces new trends, brings changes in the present culture of a society and tells about happenings around the world and this is how it also shapes opinions of people. Thus we can say that media plays a vital role in our lives and keeps us informed.
But sometimes media takes a negative turn and shows such stuff which has a negative effect in different parts of societies. In ads, they portray women as thin, beautiful, sophisticated human beings and men as wealthy robots which have led to a reduction in self-acceptance of people. Beautiful bodies shown in those ads have increased the desire of common women to go on severe diet plans, go for the latest whitening products and to go to such extremes which has also led to such disorders as anorexia, bulimia along with emotional disorders.
Think of a beautiful woman and think about the definition of a beautiful woman for a second or two; we will realize that the only words that come to our mind, even if we are females, are big eyes, good height, perfect physique, beautiful hair etc instead of a good friend or colleague, perfect mother and a perfect wife etc. Even unconsciously we refer to women by the former words instead of the latter ones. Women are always appreciated by how they appear instead of who they really are, and the society has accepted it. Many factors are responsible for this wrong image projection which includes media as well as the gender discrimination.
There are some aspects as to why females are facing such problems and are always cast in those roles that undermine their status and affect the entire female population negatively. One of books written on this subject is “Beauty Myth” by Naomi Wolf. This book was published in 1991. It focuses on female beauty, how it is used to project the wrong side of a “real woman” and how this beauty is creating problems for the modern women who want to be perfect by having cosmetic surgeries, or want to be size zero and are developing eating disorders and how this beauty contest is responsible for their jobs etc.
Naomi wolf, in her book basically emphasizes that women in their culture are mostly projected as beauty symbols; the more lovely and delicate a woman more appreciation she gets from the members of society. In 1990s many women rose to prestigious positions, they expanded themselves in terms of education, careers along with managing their families but they also became self-conscious and their youthfulness and focused more on ways of retaining it. Our communication and print media has spread a lot in the past two decades and this has lead to an increase in the advertisements.
The women of modern times; are constantly bombarded with the images of a perfect girl; who is flawless, she is not a day over 25 years, elegant and smart. Women now judge themselves according to these standards set by the people who undermine women and who are responsible for low self-esteem and low self-confidence in women. They have started to spend more money on surgeries, on diet food and medicines that they think can give them a good body. In the past women were not allowed to educate themselves, they were thought not suitable partners if they read too much.
Most of the female population doesn’t need to face this problem now instead they are faced with a more gruesome problem of being pretty and perfect as portrayed in many advertisements that are shown on media. There are many advertisements that portray this beautiful and perfect woman image while undermining rest of the female population. One of the ads is of a skin whitening cream “Fair and Lovely” which has caused severe racial problems in South Asia especially in India.
Over there majority of the population has a dark complexion and they are always trying to lighten it by going for the latest whitening products launched in their markets or for bleaching their skins. The ad of this beauty product that is on air nowadays in South Asian countries is of a young girl wanting to be an anchor on television. The ad is not in English but one can understand the meaning instantly by watching it. The auditions are in one month and her only hurdle is her dark skin.
The ad not only claims skin lightening in one month but also mentions that the girl’s dreams are fulfilled as she secures the job once she uses the product. A similar kind of ad was on air in India some time ago. In this ad they were showing that a girl wanted to be an air-hostess and the same theme was repeated that she became one by using those specific products. All these products project the same thing; fair complexion can help you to do anything and that with fair skin all the dreams are going to be fulfilled.
Now if we look into these advertisements closely what they are actually trying to portray is that women are nothing without a fair complexion. They can’t achieve their goals and think high. Beauty is what is needed in today’s world; most of all a light complexion is what is really needed to take a female to higher positions and get her employed in her desired area. In South Asian regions such ads are very common and are watched by thousands. So they are continually affecting the mentality of girls and women. A white complexioned girl thinks that she has all what is needed in a practical world which is actually totally opposite.
Then such ads are also constantly making these women self-conscious in a wrong way. These are crushing the confidence of girls. They think that to succeed in life they need to have a fair complexion and have to be the image of a “perfect woman”. The other advertisement that I will take up are the advertisements that show women smokers. These ads are mostly Western but the trend of smoking is also coming to other regions causing a negative image. These ads basically try to show that women who smoke are more powerful, affluent and are considered a threat to men.
They also mention that if you want to finish this hushed discrimination and become equivalent to men you have to smoke. That is how they are going to add you up in their circle. The other negative affect of such ads is that if a prominent and popular person of a group smokes maybe her peers will follow suit. They find it fashionable and think that they are desired to do this to be accepted by that person. Such ads can also become favorites of teenagers and they are more likely to start using such just by being impressed by these ads.
Naomi Wolf ; the writer of the book; “Beauty Myth” has not only mentioned the negative effects of beauty and how it is used to undermine women and the role of media in it but she has also written about how media plays a role in making men conscious of the things they lack. Media can’t portray men as beautiful because men who are mostly successful can be short or of dark complexion. So they give the image of a very successful man, living in a luxurious apartment, surrounded by the most expensive items and mostly beautiful women as well; meaning that all his desires are fulfilled.
So in a way men have gotten away rather easily than women. They don’t have to have a beautiful bone structure or a pretty face or a good height. The only thing that they really need is bank balance to be attractive, a house in an elite area, most prestigious golf club membership and there you have the most eligible and perfect man. There are also many ads which have a negative image on men. Men are mostly faced with the big problem of baldness. No doubt that this is a serious problem faced by men of both the West and the East but not to an extent to cause depression for the male population.
Hair loss is one of the main worries of male population after aging and memory loss. Those who are suffering from hair loss are more likely to feel unattractive and aged as hair loss is directly related to aging. For some men hair is given more priority. They also think that they become less noticeable and are made fun of. Hair loss is a worry for men of all ages but it causes serious concern in young men. Media takes advantage of the above mentioned problem of men and creates a negative effect on them.
Nowadays it has become customary of the electronic as well as the print media to show ads of men losing their hair and then getting hair transplants. Advertisement may start off with a before and an after scene. Before: bald man goes somewhere and women don’t give him any attention. After: he goes to that place again after having a hair transplant and he is accepted as a young person. These ad’s cause a very depressing and negative image for the men since not all are born with great hairs. These ads are somewhat similar to the whitening cream ads made for women.
As they tell us the same thing that men are not eligible, successful and liked by the females and their own colleagues if they are bald, now how many of us think that there is some truth in this sentence because life isn’t about looking great all the time. Hair transplants may be necessary for men working in electronic media and have to be attractive to get more roles and to have a younger look but common people don’t need to have hair transplants. The other category of advertisement which effect men negatively are the ads of energy drinks.
They usually say that a person will become super active and will perform all the tasks that he had not been able to do in the past. Some of the other ads are of steroids; which tell men that they can become more competent by using them. Most athletes/sports men tend to use steroids against the law for winning the specific game and to make world records. The thing that they don’t know is that the steroids also have many side effects which can be mild or severe. Men who use steroids have hormonal imbalances. If they are more aggressive than their growth is also affected.
There were some of the ads which affect both men and women negatively making both of these genders extra conscious of their outlook. These advertisements have awakened the human primitive instincts of being likened and cherished by everyone. Now instead of being happy in their lives, success and fortune, both the genders are focusing on how to improve themselves in order to look like the TV models. And if they fail to accomplish this goal, they become depressed and feel that they aren’t worth anything. Other such advertisement includes the ads of new technologies and the new fashions in clothing, accessories etc.
are being introduced which is increasing extravagance among people. Looking good is everyone’s right as it also leads to a boost in self-confidence. Maintaining oneself comes in the same category and using products which aid that maintenance program is appreciated and is good. But we should remember to use them within the tolerable limits and not overuse them. Unless and until something is done to stop such kind of advertisements both the genders along with many other parts of society are going to suffer.
Men and women may find it easier to relate to ads that show normal people with their normal problems. God has made people beautiful because He also likes beauty which we can see in this world and have a proof. But to use beauty to portray negative images is wrongly done by media. I totally agree with the way ‘Naomi Wolf” has described the way women are used in ads to undermine their personalities. As long as advertisements of such products continue to appear on print and electronic media we will constantly watch pretty faces making our lives miserable and increasing our personal suffering.
Bibliography Etcoff, N. L. (1999) Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty. Doubleday Weiss, S. I. (2002) Coping with the Beauty Myth: A Guide for Real Girls. The Rosen Publishing Group Lakoff, R. T. , Scherr, R. L. (1984) Face Value, the Politics of Beauty: The Politics of Beauty. Routledge Bell, E. , Haas, L. , Sells. (n. d. ) From Mouse to Mermaid: The Politics of Film, Gender, and Culture. Indiana University Press Freedman, R. J. (1986) Beauty Bound. Lexington Books