Fawn Lee of Fawn's Felicities. Powered by Blogger.

Beauty and Advertising

Somewhere along the merry path of life I adopted the belief that the “beauty industry” existed to teach women the finer arts of accentuating their most beautiful features; thereby producing confident women.

This belief has provided me with an interesting perspective as the beauty industry has become so powerfully influenced and impacted by the advertising industry.

North Americans are exposed to an estimated 3000 –that’s no typo, three THOUSAND – advertisements per day. With the majority of advertisers believing firmly in the old adage, “sex sells”, this constant barrage creates a subconscious tension, as the portrayal of beauty is so far removed from what the majority of humanity experiences.

From magazine covers to TV commercials; selling everything from make-up to the latest in website hosting – we are inundated with images of the human form – most of which has been digitally enhanced, to present a flawless image.

For example, this GQ magazine cover was “digitally altered using Photoshop,” says GQ editor Dylan Jones.

When asked about the cover photo, Kate Winslet said, “I actually have a Polaroid that the photographer gave me on the day of the shoot… I can tell you they’ve reduced the size of my legs by about a third.”
The British issue of GQ magazine went too far in Kate’s opinion: “The retouching is excessive. I do not look like that and more importantly I don’t desire to look like that”.

Jean Killbourne, internationally recognized author, speaker and film maker brings this dilemma to the forefront with unflinching clarity and humor. In reference to the advertising ideal set before women she says, “Failure (to achieve this look) is inevitable because the ideal is based on absolute flawlessness. She never has any lines or wrinkles, she certainly has no scars or blemishes – indeed she has no pores.”

Michelle Pfeiffer as seen in Esquire 
Michelle Pfeiffer at "Stardust" premier

Rance Craine, former senior editor of Advertising Age, states “only 8% of an ad’s message is received by the cognitive mind. The rest is worked and reworked deep within the recesses of the brain.”

As Mrs. Killbourne points out, even Cindy Crawford has gone on record as saying “I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford.”

The result of all this artistic recreation is a generation who is largely uncomfortable in their own skin – because it does not match the ideal model they’ve been repeatedly shown.

Ads sell more than just products; they sell values packaged in imagery. They sell us concepts about our worth; about love; sexuality; normalcy and success.

I, for one, am not buying – not until a new advertisement has been created.

My advertisement would feature women of every shape and size – including a woman who is built “tonka tough”, short and kind of boxy, definitely made to last (like myself) – with every bit of skin discoloration and wrinkling the natural body experiences as we grow older.

The prevailing message: these women are beautiful – not because they were airbrushed, photo shopped or otherwise “enhanced” – but because they were made in the image of an incredible God, to reveal an aspect of His amazing-ness that no one else was created to reveal.


Anonymous,  November 11, 2011 at 3:55 PM  

I struggle with the whole image thing as we speak. These past 2 years have taken their toll on me. When I look in the mirror I see ample opportunity for an eyelid lift, botox and lipo in various areas. Dark circles under my eyes are stubborn. My sun worshiping youth has left my face spotted.
Then I hear Dad saying, "NO!. You are beautiful the way you are." And you know what? He really meant that.
Good enough for now.

Fawn November 11, 2011 at 4:35 PM  

It's funny (and not so much), this post was originally written for the college newspaper (one of the many facets of my job).

As I was putting the finishing touches on the article one of my students came up & looked at my work.

His eye caught the photo of Michelle Pfeiffer's Esquire cover, he read all the places that had been photoshopped and misinterpreted the situation entirely.

After reading all the captions, he asked, "Mrs. Lee - you thinking about having some work done?"

My answer was rather emphatic.

"No! I've earned every spot, discoloration & wrinkle. They're a part of me & my life. What's to get rid of?"

My student shook his head as he walked back to his station. He doesn't get it.

Brian assures me daily that there isn't a woman on earth more captivating to his gaze - just the way I am! He really means it too.

Sounds like dad & Brian think alike.

And, for the record - Dad is right! You are beautiful. I love you

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