Recently, I bought a pair of workout tights. They are black, sleek, and rep a Nike swoosh right on the corner of my hip. Why did I buy these? Here’s the brutally honest truth; the girl on a Nike ad was wearing them and she looked really good . But here’s the thing, when I put on the same tights I sure to heck don’t look like Miss Nike does, and that’s not even the worst part; I would probably spend another $45-$60 on another pair just because of the psychological feeling that I DO look like her in them! Is this wrong? No. Is this part of the sales gimmick? Yes. Does it work? YOU BET.
I am 21 years old and ads run my life all the time and I know I am not alone. Advertisements for EVERYTHING are seen EVERYWHERE by EVERYONE; social media pages, billboards, newspapers, magazines, coffee cups, even bathroom stalls, there is no way to miss them. So, this gets me thinking about the younger female generation; is targeting children as an independent consumer ethical or is marketing shaping destructive lives?
Technology has evolved so much and is getting easier and easier to access. Children now have smartphones, tablets, and are babysat by applications all day long. These are target places for advertisements and not all ads are about your neighborhood bakery. That’s where it gets scary. A lot of ads introduce violence, sexualization, unrealistic body image, and explicit imagery.
But what scares me the most is the unrealistic portrayals of body image. According to Psychology Today, the “limbic/emotional system” of our brain gets us to act on thoughts without our own awareness. This sends alarm bells ringing about our young advertisement viewing females. Just like me, they view other females portraying clothing, hygiene products, food, and all sorts of other everyday materials. But what today’s advertisers do to market their product is so much more drastic. Models of all ages are flaunting their half-dressed bodies to advertise for a company.
The way advertisers are portraying their products could actually be harming youth. Recently, France has been actively protesting about skinny models advertising products due to young women avoiding eating to get that same look. Why is this good? Young people who view these ads aren’t only looking at the product, but who’s wearing the product, which eventually becomes their lifestyle. Girls will never ever look like that model (sorry ladies, the model on that magazine doesn’t even look like the real model).
America is so obsessed with looks, that they eliminate all that is real and raw out of their models. Models are slimmed down, bronzed up, and drained of any natural substance in order to sell. Like the idea Psychology Today proposed, our brains get us to act on thoughts without critically thinking about it first. This works for all sorts of companies that sell make up, clothing, even something as simple as toothpaste (my teeth still aren’t as white as Crest’s models are, thanks Crest). We live in a society where our eyes do the thinking for us.
All in all, using models for advertising isn’t always bad. Yes, America is starting to open up to other ways of getting their products out there. More curvy models are starting to take the red carpet and even celebrities are beginning to stand against unhealthy advertising (Demi Lovato, Carrie Underwood, the list goes on). These are the people who young Americans look up to; these people have voices that are heard by everyone. I hope to continue seeing awareness of the manipulative nature of advertisements. Let’s not destroy our young people, but push them to be themselves and stay healthy. Promoting a healthy lifestyle is an advertisement that America has yet to fully open it’s doors to. Perhaps it makes more sense to go right to the source of the ads. So, shout out, Nike, can you just do that?
Featured Image via Natasha Oakley