What about the boys?

My last two posts have mainly centered on just how females are poorly represented by the media and how society is influenced by this falsified version. So what about our male counterparts? Why is it that there is far less of a focus on males in advertising? Is advertising with males simply less prominent than it is with females? Are males influenced less by advertising?

air freshner advertiser
Photo Credit: The Atlantic: Available from http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/03/body-image-pressure-increasingly-affects-boys/283897.

One such post on Adweek states how the objectification of men in advertising is nothing new. Icons such as the Old Spice man or the Marlboro man have been around for a very long time (AdWeek, 2015). Yet, more recently there has been an explosion in the often…shall we say…shirtless stud. These individuals are involved with everything from colognes to air fresheners. Yep, air fresheners. In the advertisement just here, really the model has been plonked in for no particular reason. Although many ad experts and social commentators see the whole thing as a harmless turning of the tables following decades of bikini-clad babes in beer commercials, I’m not quite sure its all that simple. Simply because men are now objectified more frequently than ever by the media could be wrongly seen as equality.However, this really isn’t the case. The real argument is how the media has become more of an equal opportunity discriminator. Men’s bodies simply are not good enough now either. This notion has been argued by “The Atlantic” which stated how; “In the face of the ideals they’re bombarded with, its no surprise that adolescent boys, like wave of girls before them, are falling prey to a distorted image of themselves and their physical inadequacies” (The Atlantic, 2014). Thus, it is now safe to say that the impact of such images are also having an impact and the impact of such is real. Recent research has found a significant relationship between men’s exposure to the muscular ideal portrayed by media and negative self-images. One again the effect that media can have on our own self-image and self-worth is really shocking. The correlation between the unrealistic ideal offered by the media and the real life impact it has on us is prominent here too. However, unlike their female counterparts, its not about getting skinny, its about bulking up.

Now more than ever, males are told that they need to be bigger to “fit” with the conformity of the muscular ideal. Research conducted found that up to 25% of normal weight males consider themselves to be underweight (McCreary and Sadava, 2001). Thus, media images have distorted our perceptions of reality and of what is normal.

Again, advertisers of all kinds have copped onto this notion and are preying on what we have come to accept as normal. Marketers are targeting an ever younger age group so as to rope them in. Figurines of action heroes, for example, have lost all fat but now carry a substantial six pack. Even action children s Halloween costumes have added padding to make them bigger (The Atlantic, 2014).The point is that from an ever younger age, males are getting the message that they will need to resemble such. It is also now more prominent in high schools according to The Atlantic. This article argues how a 2012 study conducted found that muscle enhancing foods like protein rich sports bars and protein shakes are “pervasive” amongst such a young age group.

Thus, it has become clear that the impact of media advertising is now having the same negative impact on males, just as it has done with females, and although almost catching up, the impact is the same. Adverts have an alarming amount of control on forming our “own” self-images and self-worth.

Readings:

AdWeek, (2015). Hunkvertising: The Objectification of Men in Advertising. [online] Available at: http://www.adweek.com/news/advertising-branding/hunkvertising-objectification-men-advertising-152925 [Accessed 18 Feb. 2015].

The Atlantic, (2014). Body-Image Pressure Increasingly Affects Boys. [online] Available at: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/03/body-image-pressure-increasingly-affects-boys/283897/ [Accessed 18 Feb. 2015].

McCreary, D. and Sadava, S. (2001). Gender differences in relationships among perceived attractiveness, life satisfaction, and health in adults as a function of body mass index and perceived weight.Psychology of Men & Masculinity, 2(2), pp.108-116.

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Media and its power on us

All too often we tell ourselves that we are aware of the fact that images of models in magazines and on social media are photoshopped and enhanced. We know that these images do not necessarily represent real life. We recognise that such images are the work of a team of professional hair stylists, make -up artists, enhanced lighting, and the list goes on, but then why has it been statistically proven that these images cause real harm? Today more than ever girls and women, being exposed to such, and particularly from a young age, are more prone to eating disorders, depression and low self -esteem.

Ads and images normalise such expectations of what a female should look like. These images offer far more to the reader than the product they are selling. They play on our emotions, and sense of normality. They tell us that it is not okay not to be anything other than perfect.

These images have become so embedded and embraced as part of normal life that we have devised ways to achieve such looks. Girls are learning from an ever younger age that they need to look a certain way. A perfect example of this was highlighted by NYU Language Medical Centre. Among 5-12 grade girls (that’s equivalent to third class girls and up in the Irish system) said they wanted to lose weight. Over half of these girls said that they wanted to lose weight because of images they saw in magazines (Aboutourkids.org, 2015). Half of these girls also said they disliked their body image. This is troubling and sad, shouldn’t this be the last thing in the world for a kid to worry about? Isn’t it becoming obvious that body image is become an all too important measure of self-worth? Not only will these young kids fail in their attempts to resemble the photo in the magazine, teens and women of all ages will also fail because obtaining such is impossible. Images are photoshopped and enhanced. Women often feel like failures when they don’t even come close to resembling such images and so more and more products are bought to try and achieve the desired outcome.

We live in a society whereby we are constantly bombarded with the same message time and time again. Beauty is an incredibly thin, Caucasian and most importantly young women. Even other races are only considered beautiful if they resemble such features. The model Cameron Russell states in her video how this has become a “legacy” of today’s day and age http://

 Video credit :(Russell, 2015)

Older women in particular are told over and over again that having wrinkles and grey hair is completely unacceptable. Society will not stand for it and you will be shunned if you dared venture outside with such a look. Anti -wrinkle creams, hair colors are but a few of an ever growing industry which prey on such notions of beauty. Below is an image of such. These two celebrities are more or less the same age yet, the woman has to be enhanced and photoshopped so as not to show any wrinkles, indeed she does not have a single flaw. Why is it that Linda cannot even look real but becomes a falsified version of what women really look like? Why is Brad allowed to resemble, at least, some form of himself?

boy vs girl
Photo credit from (BEAUTY REDEFINED, 2012) available                       from: http://www.beautyredefined.net/photoshop-phoniness-hall-of-shame/

Furthermore women are often showcased as things, as objects. Turning a human being into a thing is the most dehumanising thing that you can do, yet everywhere we turn we see this more and more. As a society we have simply learned to accept that is perfectly okay to showcase a female as such. Only certain parts of the body are showcased and the female body is simply seen as a thing or an object. Jean Kilbourne has captured this whole notion and I would urge you to watch the 4 minute video here:

Video credit: (Killing Us Softly, 2010)

It certainly opened my eyes to just how pronounced this issue is!

The harsh reality is that even though we may be all too aware of the falseness of these ads, they are having more of an impact on us than we may realise.

Bibliography

Aboutourkids.org, (2015). How to Raise Girls with Healthy Self-Esteem | AboutOurKids.org. [online] Available at: http://www.aboutourkids.org/articles/how_raise_girls_healthy_selfesteem [Accessed 5 Feb. 2015].

BEAUTY REDEFINED, (2012). Photoshop Phoniness: Hall of Shame. [online] Available at: http://www.beautyredefined.net/photoshop-phoniness-hall-of-shame/ [Accessed 5 Feb. 2015].

Killing Us Softly, (2010). [TV programme] YouTube.

Russell, C. (2015). Looks aren’t everything. Believe me, I’m a model.. [online] Ted.com. Available at: http://www.ted.com/talks/cameron_russell_looks_aren_t_everything_believe_me_i_m_a_model?language=en#t-369473 [Accessed 5 Feb. 2015].