Blog Entry 11: Response to Kilbourne Video

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Hi all:

Please type in for this comment your response to the Kilbourne video, "Killing Us Softly..." as viewed in class last Thursday.

You can find the video, I think, by clicking here.


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I thought that Kilbourne's experience in the industry definitely affected how she saw ads. I thought she was hilarious especially when she made those small jokes to lighten up the mood, but they did help her argument. The way she described things made me think differently how I see advertisements around the campus and on the internet and television. The fact that we use different pictures just to create "the perfect women" and that only 5% of women are actually the "perfect" size is incredible. Women definitely try to change themselves thanks to society's ideal image. I believe that women live in a world where we are always being objectified. To men, to the society of the industry, to advertisements, women are just legs, breasts, and ass. We are what people want to see as sex symbols or to sell an item. The advertisements sexualize everything to sell products even food and that's what we've settled for. Watching these advertisements made my jaw drop about how these are actual advertisements and we buy into it.

I really enjoyed the Kilbourne video. It seems to me that everything she says is exactly true. I can identify with almost everything she said. What struck me the most was the ad that said something along the lines of "your boobs might be too big, too small, too lopsided etc.". That is exactly how I feel. As a female, I see models in movies and ads and everywhere else, and I know that most of them are fake, but I can't help but feel terrible about my own looks as I compare myself to them. I feel like no matter how I look, i always look wrong. Our culture tells us that large breasts are desirable, some even get breast implants. So i should be thankful that I'm chestier than many other girls, however, I can't wear half of the clothes that are in style because my boobs are too big. I can't win, and I feel like she encompassed that exactly. I have a large build, and nothing makes me feel worse than seeing all of the absolutely gorgeous, skinny models and knowing that I'll never look like them. Maybe I'm vain, but maybe I've been taught to be vain. I know what it feels like to be ostracized and disliked because of weight issues. I personally connected with nearly everything she said about advertising and our culture. I really don't like the way we are headed. Why is it ok to tell a young girl that the only quality thats worth having is sexy looks. Not in a naturally beautiful, or shining way, but in a way where she can look great like everyone else and be objectified. Why do we tell our women that they must look better than ideal, in fact, impossibly good, or they're not worth anything? It's sickening. I feel it everyday, and I don't like it. Oh, and by the way, I've never even subscribed to Seventeen, so I can't imagine how those girls feel. It really is our culture that needs to acknowledge this and change our ideas. If we can't accept human imperfection, then what will we get?
There is one subject that I disagree with Kilbourne on, and that is where she mentioned that it's only acceptable to be a blonde-blue eyed, skinny, white girl. I'm not sure when this documentary was made, but this is certainly not the case anymore. In my own experience, boys will go for the ethnic girl over the blonde girl any day. The classic "bombshell blonde" has gone out of style. If you watch TV at all today, the prettiest, most popular, most sought-after girl is a quiet brunette. Those are just my thoughts and observations. All in all, I really liked the video, as ridiculous as it seemed at points, it held a great deal of truth and I really identified with it.

While watching the video, I was shocked that people go through such extreme measures to target people on what perfect is. This video was really interesting and had a point in where men are targeted every once in a while like how "women always are". It's funny to think that times have changed over these few short years or decades, but I don't think that advertisers are choosing the skinniest of women anymore. Maybe the skinner women are used as fashion models, however in consideration to celebrities, they are loved in all shapes and sizes. Also in today's date more celebrities are being used as advertisements. I was very shocked at the fact that marketing companies were so straight forward and blunt about their message. They definitely wanted to affect the crowd in a self-conscious way. It is true to say, like they video, that when I was "8,9,10" these images had no meaning to me and didn't effect me at the least. However with age and maturity, one finds them self trapped in a world where they have to be that "perfect girl" which is basically impossible to achieve. I am just glad that being at a supermodel anorexic status isn't as popular today, or we'd all be below 100 pounds.

Jean Kilbourne began this video by describing how exploited women are in the advertising industry. It's an incredible amount of ads that continuously subject against females. The number of ads exploiting women has gotten worse in the last 40 years. Ads are a powerful, educational force that can influence the mind into thinking you are not good enough and try to show that "love, success, and want" is what you really need in life. Americans are watching about 2 years of there life watching television and advertisements. Sellers try to put across the idea of the "ideal female beauty". The only problem is that for example in magazines, pictures are photo shopped and fixed at about 20-30 times a frame. Those images are the ones we all want to become, but the only problem is that its not even possible for the person on the ad. Men begin to judge women based on these photoshopped images which creates harsh criticism to real life women. Women begin to turn into things instead of individuals which creates the need and want to fit in with the perfect self portrayed through advertisements. The female population wants to try to perfect there bodies which then creates a fetish for plastic surgery. Cosmetic procedures are performed on women on about a 91% scale and 12 million procedures are done. Through scrutiny and imperfection body issues also blossom and epidemics of eating disorders occur all around the nation. It could range from obesity to anorexia, the cycle never ends. Kilbourne wanted to get the point across that exploiting women on a day to day basis has gone on for too long. These ads only bring body issues and lower a females self esteem, yet at the same time that helps sell a product. This cycle of conformity is ridiculous and only gets bigger by the second.

One of the most interesting statistics that I got from Killing us Softly 4 by Jean Kilbourne, was that the most desirable female body type promoted in ads and fashion shows account for less than 5% of females in America. That means that 95% of women do not meet the advertised standards of beauty in America. Another important point that I saw in the video was that the white ideal of beauty is the most dominant. Women of color get their skin tones lightened through photoshop, and are portrayed in stereotypical roles based on the color of their skin. For example the video showed an ad where a Black woman was seen running in a Savanna with a cheetah, this ad was an attempt to portray her as an African tribeswoman. The standards of beauty in American is definitely defined through media and advertisements however, the standard is often unfair and unattainable for most women in American society. On a larger scale advertising this impossible standard of beauty to women often leads to a decline in their physical and mental health.

Women are a main target for advertisers. A woman's perspectives on herself is that she must be the ideal image of perfect in order for her to have any sort of physical, sexual attraction. In order for them to achieve this ideal state, extreme action are acted upon in order to feel and be the ideal image of beauty, though they never get there. Food and sex have become a problem. Propaganda is making it seem like food is such a bad promiscuous thing like sex. Food is becoming a sexual innuendo in which women shouldn't be having so much food like they shouldn't be having a lot of sex. This in turn causes a women to feel about about herself if she eats things that aren't considered health or if she eats too much. It transforms their minds into thinking they will never be good enough for anything, leading to many problems including both physical and mental health problems.

I loved this video. It was eye-opening to see how advertising affects women. Advertising for women has gotten worse over the years. People will say that they don't watch television and that advertising doesn't affect them, but in reality, advertisements provoke the subconscious mind. Ads are everywhere and we see on average 3000 ads per day. Only 8% of the ads are perceived by the conscious mind, I think that is amazing. Especially because I am one of those people that thinks that ads do not affect my life, but they do and I realize that now. Advertisers do not care about the general well-being of the people, they only want to make a quick profit any way that they can. Ads tell us who we are, who we should be, and what we should look like and because it is perceived by our unconscious minds, we don't even realize what they ads are doing to us. Advertising especially targets women. Women's bodies are turned into objects and things. Plastic surgery procedures have increased over 100%. People are manipulated into thinking they should be something that they are not. They are told that their natural human shapes and eccentricities are not normal and therefore must be altered.

Advertising to women has always been a crude act but in recent years it has become even more controversial. Throughout society women have been increasingly objectified by adertisment. Women are portrayed as flawless and perfect, which in reality is impossible. Advertisiments sell women as sex, and sell prodducts to women with the idea of sex. Everywhere you look there are beautiful models products in extemely sxual ways, but in reality the models do not even look like that. Unfortunately, women have become targets of false advertisement.

What really surprised me about this video was the extent to which advertisers go to make the "perfect woman." They go to such extreme measures for example creating a woman that is completely composed of from features of more than three women; taking the lips from one, the eyes from another, and the chin, the nose and everything else from a few others. Advertisers understand that the beauty they promote is unattainable but the fact that women still spend vast amounts of money searching for it, allows them to continue. Advertisers don't only create beautiful women piece by piece but they also touch-up pictures, they elongate models necks, thin down thighs, widen eyes and numerous other things to achieve what can only be attainable through a computer. The fact is that no one looks like these women, not even they themselves, and the few that are acceptable in their (advertisers) eyes account for only 5% of women. Women long to look and feel beautiful and since there is an idealism of what beauty is, at least in this culture, women will yearn to encompass it no matter how unattainable it is.

Jean Kilbourne has done an in-depth analysis of the effect that advertisement has on females. Her forty-year-old ad collecting activity clearly shows how women are objectified and belittled by advertisers. However, most people choose to believe that that they aren't influenced by everyday ads when in reality our mind subconsciously processes every single one of them. It is impossible to not be affected by the "toxic cultural environment" our society has constructed. The ideal women in magazines goes from twenty through thirty rounds of photoshop which basically leaves means real physical attributes all have been significantly altered. Cindy Crawford wishing she looked like the version of herself in advertisements stood out to me because if she's the woman in the picture and she does not posses those perfect attributes then it's sending the wrong message to girls. Less than five percent of American women have achieved the "ideal" look. This has such a negative effect especially on teenage girls because marketing basically shouts that being physically attractive is the most important thing in the world. The perfect look is absolutely unattainable by a majority of the female population and it leads to an obsessive desire to look the "look" which never completely subsides.

Jean Kilbournespoke truth and shed light on the often disturbing images of food advertisements. These ads practically use and take advantage of women’s bodies to portray an image that is highly altered and that often has nothing to do with the product. In order to make up for the fact that these products are unhealthy, companies try to make them desirable through hypersexualization. It is unfortunate that this trend has been apparent throughout many decades. Also, it is surprising that only about five percent of women fit the idea of the “ideal look” and that there is actually a standard and definition of an “ideal look”. Because most women do not fit the qualifications to be part of this small group, they continue to spend millions of dollars a year to achieve the unattainable.

Ads today are selling just about everything. They sell values, morals, love, looks, sexuality, racism, etc. Ads are discriminate towards every group except one. Models are usually young, thin, white, and blond with blue eyes. We barely see a colored woman in an ad and if we do, she is significantly lightened. The values and morals ads send out is that it’s oaky to be skinny. Of course it’s okay to be skinny naturally, but it’s definitely not safe or healthy to try to diet into nothing more than a stick. With that being said, models and ads now a day project the message that the skinnier you are, the prettier and the more accepted you would be. Yet, they expect women to have large breast, large bust, tiny waist, and long legs. Biologically, that’s impossible but for girls who are growing up, she can’t help but try to duplicate that image. As fo those women who do not fall under the ideal girl category, they will try to change themselves physically through plastic surgery. In the US, there is a 114% plastic surgery increase since last checked between 2002 and 2007. Eating disorders are also being encouraged because fashion designers continuously create sizes smaller and smaller. Women become simply an object as they are displayed through materialistic goods causing violence. While men are also being projected as objects, they are shown to be more masculine while women are shown as weak and delicate.

The video was so sad as to how it targeted women into thinking that they need to be skinny and fit. I see how this unconsciously got into our heads. More than being sad, I was very shocked and surprised from how tricky these advertisements were. When I saw the "very" skinny women on the cover of magazines, I didn't know they were so skinny. Whenever I glance at a magazine, that skinniness looks normal to me and that is what unconsciously raises guys' standards these days. The video mentioned that guys set high standards through a fake computer/photoshop edited picture and it is surprisingly true. I also didn't realize that ALL of these pictures were photoshopped til I realized how impossibly perfect they were advertised. This opened my eyes to just a lot of things that happen behind our backs. (or in front of our backs, but then we get too stupid to notice it)

It is horrifying how much our society has changed due to advertising. The objectification of women has risen dramatically throughout the years and it will only continue to do so. Advertisements have caused women to feel insecure all the time due to not being able to live up to the representation of the ideal woman. Men are also beginning to feel the effects of advertising as the ideal man has also changed. The ideal man must be strong, loud, and emotionless. Representations of men in magazines have been shown as men with defined abdominal muscles, bulging biceps and tough pectoral muscles. Men can not be shown crying or angry as they shouldn’t show emotion due to it being a feminine” quality. Another fact about men in advertising is that we’re buffoons who bring in money for the woman to manage. This is especially seen in sitcoms such as modern Family, or shows like the Simpsons, etc. Men are just idiots who can’t even take care of their children.

We have all been shaped to be the same. We are just like those factories, all being made to be identical. At the start of the 1920's, fashion started to be advertised and every girl wanted the latest trend. This led women to dress identical to each other, individuals blending into a sea of one. Conformity was crucial and everyone sought to be the same. I find it interesting how everyone subjects themselves to this conformity. Does anyone want to be unique and stand out? Do people prefer the familiarity and norm rather than the unfamiliar and abstract. The effects of advertising are not only detrimental to the mental health of young women, it influences in a way that we cannot see. We subconsciously process the ads we watch even if we think we aren't paying attention. Ads tell young girls that it is necessary to be skinny and beautiful to be happy. Magazine ads especially target young women, and many young girls are drawn to obsessive lifestyle to look good.

Killing Us Softly describes women in today's American society. There are many problems that make it tough for women to avoid discrimination in every day life. Commercials judge women more harshly than men, with make up commercials and photoshopped women who look absolutely flawless. These commercials show beauty products that portray a woman with a perfect face and beautiful skin. "I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford" says model Cindy Crawford. Media slims down woman and make it tougher for real woman because they feel like they need to own these products in order to compete with other woman. It affects their self esteem and men judge woman based on the thousands of commercials seen daily. Woman are dehumanized into objects by being pressured into getting breast implants. Commercials promote extremely thin models. Real women see this and if they desire to look like this, eating disorders develop. This part of the media does not affect just women, but everyone in general because it creates a societal problem where people are superfluous.

The video emphasizes how advertisements have created an image of what is suppose to be ideal beauty. The speaker exposes the importance of vanity portrayed in these images , making women around the world feel self conscious and inadequate. She also exposes the dirty truth behind these images as many of these models themselves can’t even reach the perfection portrayed in the advertisements they are in. What I find very shockingly true is that even though many of these women are aware of alterations are made on these images, they still measure themselves with the unreachable beauty of these models. This ideal portrayal of women within commercials, billboards and countless ads has caused women to criticize themselves very harshly and feel the need to alter their bodies through dieting and surgical procedures which can be very harmful. It was appalling to see the amount of women and even young girls that have now started to have surgical procedures done to try and reach the flawlessness within these ads. What is even more disturbing is that the makers behind these ads do not seem to min the harm that they are causing women everywhere.

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This page contains a single entry by Nick Tingle published on December 29, 2012 12:07 PM.

Blog Entry 9: Your View of Advertising to Children was the previous entry in this blog.

Blog Entry 12: Plot Summary of TS is the next entry in this blog.

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