Tuesday, March 13, 2012


As a follow-up to my post on obesity and physical appearance, I wanted to share a video that sheds a humorous bit of light on the beauty expectations of our culture. It made me laugh and think! I hope it will do the same for you.

I came across this video while reading a very interesting article on CNN about activists who are challenging popular notions of beauty. A similar theme to the above satire pervades a short film, made by Dove, to show the transformation from natural beauty to makeup model.

As I discussed in my commentary on childhood obesity and appearance, I do believe that the media shapes our sense of what is desirable, and even our concept of what is "normal." Children are especially vulnerable to having their expectations and opinions shaped. Even subtle advertising can make a difference when we consider how often we see the same message day after day. After a lifetime of exposure, it would be naive to assume we don't soak in anything from what we see, hear, and read.

For those who are skeptics, consider this passage from "Cinderella Ate My Daughter," by Peggy Orenstein (pg 17). "...Even can-do girls can be derailed - and surprisingly quickly - by exposure to stereotypes. Take the female college students, all good at math, all enrolled in advanced calculus, who were asked to view a series of television commercials: four neutral ads (showing, say, cell phones or animals) were interspersed with two depicting cliches (a girl in raptures over acne medicine; a woman drooling over brownie mix). Afterward they completed a survey and - bing! - the group who'd seen the streotyped ads expressed less interest and math- and science-related careers than classmates who had seen only the neutral ones. Let me repeat: the effect was demonstrable after watching two ads. And guess who performed better on a math test, coeds who took it after being asked to try on a bathing suit or those who had been asked to try on a sweater? (Hint: the latter group; interestingly, male students showed no such disparity.)"

I encourage you to read the CNN article that led me to this video and other pieces about similar topics. Consider how advertising is affecting our lives, from one math test (per the studies mentioned above) to career opportunities in general, from distorted self-image to unhealthy dieting, from peer relationships in the classroom to expectations in our dating and spousal relationships. All of these aspects of life are profoundly related to our mental, emotional, and physical health.

I hope that being even slightly more aware of how these messages affect us will change both our decisions about the images we choose to allow into our minds and the way we interpret the advertising we do take in. If enough people react against the practices of our media culture, the advertisers will have no choice but to take notice!

For more information on this video, check out Jesse Rosten's website: http://jesserosten.com/2012/fotoshop-by-adobe

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