There is no doubt that advertisements have shaped our society’s understanding of beauty. In particular, the fashion and beauty industry has created “standards” of beauty over the years that negatively impact self-image and self worth. The women in the ads are retouched—photo shopped to have all of their flaws gone. But why? Everyone has blemishes, and no one is perfect. Somehow, the media continues to show us what it means to be beautiful.
There are certain things I specifically turn to when I think of beauty standards in advertisements.
Here are three of them:
1. Your natural hair isn’t pretty enough.
Whether it is the color or the style, advertisements urge us to change our hair. Most models are shown with gorgeous and voluminous blowouts; a style that is not very practical for the everyday woman. Advertisements also urge women to change their hair color. Half of the blondes seen in these beauty ads are not natural. This perpetuates the idea that women need to change their hair color or style in order to be accepted as beautiful by society.
2. Perfect Skin.
Not only do these ads suggest that we don’t have one little blemish anywhere on our face, it also suggests that the color of our skin isn’t right. For white women, advertisements show women with bronzed skin; as if they just came back from vacation. This idea that you have to be tan to be beautiful is obviously a problem, considering tanning beds and the risk that comes along with them. For black women, it is almost the opposite. They are seen as more beautiful when they have lighter skin. These beauty ideals put in place by the media do not represent our society as a whole.
3. The perfect body.
So, the models in these advertisements have amazing hair and perfect skin, but that also have the tightest body. Long legs, toned arms, a lifted but, big (but not too big) of boobs… the list goes on and on. These ads give girls and women a false sense of how their bodies are supposed to be. The majority of the bodies you see in beauty and fashion ads are photo shopped to have all of these “perfect” attributes.
Advertisements are all around us. Now that we are in a digital age, they are nearly impossible to avoid. Advertisements that perpetuate these false beauty ideals are damaging to self-image. Women and girls expect to look the way that these models do because it is all they see. Although there have been several attempts at showcasing “real beauty” in ads, the majority that we see are filled with these standards and false beauty—perpetuating the constant pressure as women to look good.