About 11 years ago, a beauty care corporation known as Dove, released a video titled “Onslaught” revealing their point of view on beauty in society. The video was created by Unilever, a British Dutch transitional goods company to help promote Doves Self Love Fund. The video starts with the face of a red headed young girl staring into the camera for a brief moment and then transitions into a compilation of a large variety of ads and posters from all around the globe of models in little clothing, obviously skinny and photo shopped to perfection, as well as ads containing women saying their products will make you “younger, smaller, lighter, firmer, thinner, and softer.” Exposing the diets, pills, and other methods women put themselves through to make themselves appear that way as well as the physical affects it has on their bodies as well as showing brief moments of plastic surgeries women go through. The most crucial part of this video is the little girl in the opening scene that puts the whole message together by tugging at their audience’s emotions. By using real ads and billboards, Dove shows that the media is saturated with oppressive media to women everywhere. Dove’s audience could range from anyone who is aware to this epidemic as well as people who need to be informed of the situation at hand. If you take the girl out of the equation this video will still have the same purpose, but a much less hard hitting message that of which is children are now being affected by the highly polluted media stream when it comes to anything to do with appearance.
Beauty can be interpreted in more ways than one. The dictionary definition of beauty is a combination of qualities such as shape, color, or form, which pleases the aesthetic senses, especially the sight. To a degree that may be true, especially when it comes to women and how they appear. Everyone is entitled to their opinions as well as their preferences but many seem to have this belief that beauty has a specific yet broad definition and meaning. Most men and women seem to think women specifically, must be skinny, clear faced, soft looking, and a large chest. When young women are exposed to these ads they affect their view towards themselves and the others around them. Not only is this happening in ads, but also media like video games and music videos when often times, a women is sexualized to please their male audience. This over- sexualizing of women also causes young girls and some adults to fear leaving their home without having make-up on their face.
This video’s message is that women go through so much to acquire this standard of “beauty” society has set and how many young girls are exposed to it at such a young age, they are pretty much born into the thought that they have to appear a certain way (“younger, smaller, lighter, firmer, and softer”) to appear beautiful rather than accepting themselves and the skin they were born with. The mainstream media is one of the biggest culprits in this form of false belief of beauty. Not only does this affect young women but it also changes the way young boys up to adult male’s perception of what a real beautiful woman is.
As a child grows they soak up all the information around them like a sponge and eventually will utilize what they perceive into their everyday life. So when a child is exposed to skinny models all across billboards with exposed skin, long hair, and a 100% symmetrical face they believe what they see to be absolute beauty. According to the Journal of Mass Communication and Journalism there was a study published on “Media Effects and Body Image Perceptions on Youth” finding, “Television advertisements have significant impact on youth including product choices and overall perceptions of gender roles.” and “Female and male adolescent tend to compare themselves with models in television advertisements more frequently at this age and as a result both the gender feels insure and lack of confidence in themselves. This also led to unhealthy lifestyle which is one of the most serious things to be taken care of now a days. Girls with stick to crash diet to get unattainable body of those models in advertisement and boys often resort to the use steroids and over exercising to achieve a perceived muscular body.” By having these adolescents exposed to this media it changes their confidence as well as their health when feeling so pressured they result to steroids or other pharmaceuticals to enhance their appearance.
It seems as though young girls in the age range of 9-15 should be playing outside with their friends or doing homework and learning but times have evolved to young girls obsessing over their appearance and putting on makeup as if they have someone to impress or maybe just feel better about the way they look. A Huffington Post article entitled “Too Much Makeup Too Soon?” by Griffith contains an excerpt stating, “From a survey conducted by the Renfrew Center Foundation in 2013, it has been discovered that one in five girls who have worn makeup between the ages of 8 and 18 years old have negative feelings about their looks when they don’t wear makeup, such as feeling self-conscious, unattractive or as if something is missing from their faces. Of the girls who wear makeup, 65 percent started wearing it between the ages of 8 and 13 and 27 percent hardly ever leave the house without wearing any. The places most girls feel are okay to be bare-faced are at home, the pool or beach and the gym. The least acceptable places to be bare-faced are friends’ houses and school.” Young females in their childhood up to their teens and maybe even to their young adult life don’t feel confident about the way they look and accommodate for it by putting on a face of makeup and this should be raising more questions than it is already. The last thing children need to be worrying about is how they appear to other people.
Not only are women being sexualized in ads but also media like video games and music videos and it always seems too far-fetched from reality. For example, Lara Croft, the Tomb Raider, famously known from the movies but in both the movie and video games her appearance does not seem to fit the “Explorer/ Hero” look her male dominant creators seem to claim she has. At first glance, it is very easy to pick out her over-exaggerated bust line as well as her very short, non-protective shorts. Now, people might argue that it’s just a movie or game, what’s the big deal about her outfit? When you take a closer look you will see that children play those games and eventually subconsciously involve the way their favorite video game character looks and implement it in their everyday life which can lead them to almost expecting women to dress a certain way. This also goes for music videos, especially of the Rap genre. For example, when you watch a rap video there is a very high likelihood of a barely dressed young adult female being present. A quote from the Global Critical Media Literacy Project states, “In music videos, the status of a male rapper is exemplified by the amount of cars he drives, the size of his house/houses, and the amount of beautiful half naked girls he has flaunting for his attention. Buxom women in skimpy outfits are part of the male rapper’s materialistic rewards alongside money and fame. There also seems to be an abundance of music videos where the females are damsels in distress, a patriarchal pre-requisite for a man to come save them. In Drake’s Hold On We’re Going Home video, his girlfriend is dressed in lingerie waiting for him to get home. Cut to the next scene where she is viciously kidnapped by men that drag her out of her home. Drake receives a phone call from the kidnappers stating “he took what’s mine so I took what’s his,” referring to his girlfriend who is surrounded by what looks like a mob. This video not only supports the damsel in distress theory, but also holds that women are sexual objects that men possess, as Drake’s girlfriend is dressed in lingerie while awaiting his rescue. The camera angle is also indicative of a gendered message broadcast to the audience.” This type of demeanor and attitude from men towards women translates to their audience for both genders. Young men will sooner or later acquire the idea that women are objects, belong to them, must be wearing minimal clothing at all times, and must live to please them and these types of videos is one of the few culprits to this type of attitude.
A study called “The Real Truth About Beauty was conducted by Dr. Nancy Etcoff, Dr. Susie Orbach, Dr. Jennifer Scott, and Heidi D’Agostino examined 3,200 women aging from 18 to 64 across 10 counties and found 68% of women used makeup products to feel more attractive. The study from Dove in 2008 found 62% of women aged 8 to 17 felt insecure and unsure of themselves and 71% felt low self-esteem and felt their appearance was not good or pretty enough. This all comes back to what Dove and Unilever are trying to point out with their video, that the media manipulates the young minds of women everywhere to buy their product and do not consider the effects it can cause. Although, they might even be fully aware of the situation and exploit it to their benefit. More Beauty’s website has a published excerpt stating, “MarketWatch reported that L’Oréal, the world’s largest cosmetic company, saw a 21 percent increase in their net profits for the first half of the year. Part of that profitability comes from their successful marketing toward women. A woman’s world is saturated with television and magazine advertisements selling youth in a jar, line-smoothing foundations, lip-plumping lipsticks, and lash-thickening mascaras, as well as myriad beauty guides and makeup “must-haves.” When it comes to cosmetics advertising, companies leave no stone unturned. We’re told that makeup can transform our faces—even when it seems only natural not to be wearing any makeup, like when we’re at the beach.” Makeup companies target the insecurities of young women to seek profit gains no matter the cost which is a very corrupt system and way to make money. This can be a main reason why only four percent of women do not believe they are beautiful. “In fact, according to a recent global survey by Dove, only four percent of women consider themselves beautiful.” (Burton 2013).
The Dove Company’s message is a simple one when it comes to this video. The large masses of ads and media over sexualizing women to gain profits and sell their products is taking its toll on our youth and leading it on to their adult lives which becomes a vicious cycle ruining the minds of our society with this entitled way of thinking towards our women and a poor self-reflection mindset we have on ourselves. When these companies strike at the minds and self-consciousness of the women who purchase their products, not only are they hurting them but the future generations of consumers to come. Children do not need to be thinking about the way they look or how others perceive them, they should be focusing on having fun and going to school but the media has corrupted the minds of adults and children.
Sood, et al. “Effects of Advertising on Youth (Age Group of 13-19 Years Age).” OMICS International, OMICS International, 8 June 2015, www.omicsonline.org/open-access/effects-of-advertising-on-youth-age-group-of-1319-years-age-2165-7912-1000260.php?aid=55059.
I used this source to show the effects of advertising to children. It shows that advertising is an indispensible mode of communication and that children are being effected by the methods they use to sell. I used it for a quote that had to do with how adolescent females compare their bodies to the ones on T.V. This source is reliable because it is among the 700+ peer reviewed journals for scientific research.
Griffith, Taylor. “Too Much Makeup Too Soon?” The Huffington Post, TheHuffingtonPost.com, 22 Mar. 2014, www.huffingtonpost.com/taylor-griffith/too-much-makeup-too-soon_b_4960004.html.I used this article to show that young females are wearing makeup at a young age to appear better looking because they are dissatisfied with their appearance. It shows that 1 in every 5 girls have worn makeup between ages 8 to 18. This article is from the Huffington Post and was written by a Princeton student who focuses on this subject.
Strum, Lora. “Study tracks 31-Year history of female sexualization in video games.” PBS, Public Broadcasting Service, 8 July 2016, www.pbs.org/newshour/science/study-tracks-31-year-history-of-female-sexualization-in-video-games.
This article shows how female video game characters have been sexualized for the last 31 years. Giving the example of Lara Croft having an exaggerated bust line and that her development team is male dominated. It goes to show that even in a fake world women are sexualized. The PBS website and T.V channel have been dedicated to giving factual information since it started.
Sams, Jennifer. “About Face: Why Some Women Can’t Go Without Makeup.” More.com, More.com, 13 July 2016, www.more.com/beauty/makeup/makeup-tips/about-face-why-some-women-cant-go-without-makeup.
I used this article to point out that women are afraid to leave their homes without a face of makeup. The article is pretty much targeting how women don’t feel pretty enough to go out without makeup on. I used the quote that went along the lines of 3200 women ages 8 to 18 only 68% of them use makeup to appear more attractive. More Beauty is a site dedicated to women and their appearance as well as fashion and helping other women.
Burton, Natasha. “The Depressing Thing Most of Us Have in Common.” Cosmopolitan, Cosmopolitan, 8 Oct. 2017, www.cosmopolitan.com/style-beauty/beauty/news/a11997/most-women-dont-think-theyre-beautiful/.
This article is stating that women don’t believe they are beautiful. Cosmopolitan has been around since media was just on paper and has a very large fan-base. Given that they are a factual source I chose to include an excerpt saying that 4% of women don’t think they are beautiful and 80% of people believe that all women are beautiful.