( This is an excerpt from a longer article already published on this blog.)
Philip Myers Jr. and Frank Biocca, both academic researchers, concluded in their study published in the Journal of Communication, that a woman’s self-perceived body image can change after watching a half-an-hour of television programming and advertising. On the other hand, the research of Yoku Yamamiya and Thomas F. Cash yielded a more alarming result : “Even a 5- minute exposure to thin-and-beautiful media images results in a more negative body image than does exposure to images of neutral object.”
Tiggemann and Mcgill ( as cited in Serdar ), on the other hand, discovered that even brief exposure to images of beautiful females (11 images) led to increased levels of body dissatisfaction and weight anxiety among women. This finding is disturbing because the number of images used in the study is far less than what is present in any women’s magazine or shown in most television programming.
A study by Duane Hargreaves of Flinders University in South Australia had similar results. Females who saw ads with idealized female imagery experienced a greater degree of body dissatisfaction, negative moods and anger. Teenage girls are more likely to be negatively affected by what they see on the media.
The studies mentioned above are just a small part of extensive evidence showing that women suffer emotionally and psychologically due to exposure to beautiful images in ads and other forms of media.
But wait. Isn’t this the very intention of beauty advertising ? To make a consumer feel sorry for herself because she has dark skin. Because she is fat. Because she has pimples. Because she’s getting old. Creators of the ad, and they are very smart, know what’s inside the deep recesses of a woman’s mind and heart. Fully aware of a woman’s vulnerable spots , they hit her self-esteem with underlying messages . You are not good enough . You are not pretty enough. You are ugly. But then, as she squirms on her couch with self-pity , she gets the other message . “ Don’t despair , lady! There’s hope! Use our product and you will be as beautiful as these models .You will get perfectly white skin .You will have this body . You will catch Mr. Right. “ The woman now rushes to the nearest mall — where sales agents wait for the prey who needs only very little pushing to buy the product.
And after spending a fortune, the woman realizes she will never look like those models.