Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Is this 1959?

"It's hard to believe that this is 1999 (or 2012) and not 1959. The more things change, the more they stay the same." This quote from the reading by Kilbourne struck me this week. Just when I think we've made progress in this area, a Super Bowl commercial runs like Go Daddy. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=phF1ibedivw
One of the more disturbing things I read recently is the surge in young girls having plastic surgery. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, 219,000 cosmetic surgeries were performed on people aged 13-19 in 2010. The most popular procedures for this group were rhinoplasty and breast augmentation. Mothers and daughters are sharing the same plastic surgeon for breast implants to help with "self esteem issues." Also on the rise is body piercing and tattooing which has risen from 10% to 25% in recent years. "Advertising is one of the most potent messengers in a culture that can be toxic for girls' self-esteem," says Kilbourne. Do you think those of us entering the advertising have a responsibility to affect change? Do you think it is possible?


  1. I was very impressed at the overwhelmingly negative reaction to this year's Super Bowl ads, including the much-hyped GoDaddy ads. Advertising has long operated under certain stereotypes of their audiences, and it makes me happy to see the negative reaction from the Super Bowl because it tells me that audiences are "mad as hell, and we're not going to take it anymore!"

    As far as our responsibility to affect change in the advertising industry in terms of operating with these set-in-place stereotypes (ex: Sex sells!), I think it goes beyond what we would like to have happen and what we must make happen. Advertising has the power to be "toxic for girls' self-esteem," but it also has the tremendous opportunity to engage, embrace, and empower young women. As advertisers, we must work within our industry to change how advertising portrays women. As women, we must answer with our pocketbooks, and say "we're not buying it" to brands that use sexist advertising.

  2. I keep focusing on the increase of plastic surgeries. I would really like to see a break down of what procedures were actually performed, and which ones were minimally invasive such as Botox and Dysport. Back to the topic… I believe that those entering advertising do have a responsibility, but the ability to influence change is not likely. Scantily clad women sell products, and draw attention… it garners the emotional response from men to want to be with them and women to want to look like them. Advertising, music, and media had objectified women just as Kilbourne discussed, but from a fiscal standpoint it helps the bottom line. With the advancement of technology, this is even worse. We can now make women look however we want—graphic designers have the power to influence women and their self-esteem.

    I think this is a great (funny) portrayal of how we use technology to make women look however we want, to sell what we want: