Try Taking a Closer Look at Those Magazine Ads

At first, I assumed that Killing Us Softly 3 would be a bland documentary, informing us about trends in the media today that we are all already aware of. But a few minutes into the movie, I realized that it was a lot more interesting than that.

Not only was the narrator really funny, but she mentioned some very interesting points that opened my eyes to some concepts in advertising that I had never thought of before.

One statistic that really caught my attention was that the average person is exposed to over 3,000 ads everyday! The video explained that ads sell values, images and norms–not just products.

The concept that the media influences women to have body image issues and eating disorders has always been apparent. One idea that Killing Us Softly 3 brought to my attention was that the media only portrays models who are flawless and idealistic in comparison to the average woman.

Only 5% of women actually have figures like models, and the pictures printed in magazines are all airbrushed. It is almost physically impossible to force yourself to fit into the mold of a model. If we aim to look like the models in magazines, then failure is basically guaranteed.

It is also interesting to consider that men are effected by the portrayal of women in media as well. When women are depicted in ads as being so perfect and ideal, men have higher expectations for women in real life.

So, not only are women guaranteed failure if they aim to look like the models in ads, but they are also being shut down by men who have been conditioned to have unrealistically high expectations.

Another idea that interested me was that men and women are portrayed very differently in ads.

Men are always portrayed as powerful, being placed higher than women on the page of a magazine, and taking up more space in an image. Women are always lower down on the page, with a smaller figure representing that women are more passive than men. Women are portrayed as innocent and quiet, looking child-like and passively covering their mouths.

Even in ads with children, the boys are aggressive and active, while the girls are timid and obedient.

These are all things that I think we all subconsciously notice, but never really think about. Once these ideas were brought to my attention, everything seemed to be so obvious, and I wonder how I’ve never noticed before.

I guess that’s just how advertising works–messages are slipped right into an ad, and we as consumers soak it right up before we even know its there.


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