Saturday, September 6, 2008

Killing Us Softly

If you realize it or not advertisement is everywhere! In 1979 people spent $20 million on advertising and in 1999 $180 million was spent. These ads were placed on TV, billboards, buildings, buses, clothing, and in many more places! We see about 3000 advertisements a day. In Jean Kilbourne’s presentation, she informed us that Americans spend three years of their lives watching TV commercials.

Interesting facts, her humorous comments, and ads for visuals are just a few ways that Jean Kilbourne captured the audience’s attention. The visuals for her presentation were used very appropriately; it was another way to capture her audience’s attention. Jean was dressed professionally but casual. She had a strong tone of voice and emphasized important words; she kept eye contact with her audience too. Jean moved slightly to keep better eye contact with her whole audience.

These ads dehumanize women’s bodies; an advertisement for Miller Genuine Draft Beer was focused on a female who was holding a beer at her side. Jean stated, “These ads see women as things, and only one part of this thing was being focused on.” Many advertisements are focused on women’s breasts, in our society; these sexual and provocative ads sell the products. The make-up ads show women as being flawless; this flawlessness is only reached from spending unrealistic amounts of money, time, and energy. The looks of one make-up model are described as “she has no wrinkles, scars, blemishes, and she doesn’t have pores either,” laughs Jean.

There are also ads that normalize abuse! That is one thing that SHOULD NOT be normalized for anybody! Abuse is the second greatest cause of injury to women. You don’t see ads with a dead woman advertising, “Great hair never dies!” Or commercials of women being murdered by their boyfriends or husbands. Normalization of abuse shouldn’t be advertised, we need to stop the violence in our nation, not promote it!

Teenagers’ are also highly influenced by advertisement; they see pregnant, and bulimic or anorexic teen celebrities, in magazines and on television. The movie Juno, and teen magazines like Jane glamorize teen sex. One of the cover stories for an issue of Jane was: 15 ways sex makes you prettier! And we have people in our society wondering why the teen pregnancy rate is so high! Eating disorders are another major issue with teens, and ads telling us “the more you subtract, the more you add” doesn’t send out a good message! Famous celebrities like, Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen, were idolized by so many young girls. If they had eating disorders, then why would that look bad to a teenager who wishes they were just like them?

Advertising’s image of women is doing exactly what the title says: killing us softly! The expectations for a female model or actress are a major part of the issue. Models are visualized as thin and pretty, the thinner you are the prettier you will be. This is what’s causing the eating disorders that kill so many men, women, and teens every year! Not only are sexual ads dehumanizing to women, they only see women as objects, and focus on only one part of that object. Why can’t the natural beauty of people be advertised? Everyone knows there is no such thing as perfect or flawless! Why can’t we except people in the world for who they are, not what they should be?!

1 comment:

Jonathan Humberson said...

When Ms. Kilbourne says that "Abuse is the second leading cause of injury to women", she isn't quite telling the truth.

Looking at Table 14 of the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey:
2005 Emergency Department Summary
(which you can download at gives us a listing of the various causes of injury in emergency room patients during 2005.

Unfortunately for our purposes, it does not have an entry for injuries caused to females by domestic violence, but it does have an entry which is nonetheless useful. Specifically, it states that all injuries caused by assault (not just those caused by domestic violence) for both men and women make up only 4.2 percent of all injuries. Now, this isn't as relevant as a more narrow figure would be, but it does still strongly indicate that domestic violence is nowhere near the top of the list of causes of injury to women.

Ms. Kilbourne seems to have taken a bit of a free hand in coming up with statistics throughout her presentation, which is unfortunate, because doing so only serves to undermine her message.