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Effect of Beauty and Body Image in AdvertisingResearch Paper

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¶ … Beauty and body image in advertising

It is common knowledge among the advertising world that publicity sells. In order to achieve a high degree of profit in the globalized world, the most interesting and eye catching advertisements usually impact the targeted public and achieve their goals in promotion and selling. However, more and more people are becoming reluctant to certain products precisely because of the sometimes aggressive and even offending publicity. From this point-of-view the present paper argues that the perception of women's body and their comparison to HAMs (highly attractive models) have a negative influence on the advertising efforts for particular products.

The structure of the paper takes into account precisely the impact HAMs and the meaning of the concept have on the advertising world and on the society at the same time. Part I takes into account the different perspective women have on this matter in terms of racial lines. More precisely, it focuses on the way in which black women as opposed to white women perceive this advertising process which includes HAMs.

Part II targets the actual phenomenon of beauty as part of a wider process of identification in the society and in particular at the work place. Usually, it is considered that beauty is a matter of self-esteem; yet there is research in the field to point out that women labeled as being attractive are more likely to be perceived more productive.

In part III, the consumer behavior is analyzed to take into account the fact that all things considered, women tend to become less responsive to advertisements presenting very attractive women. This is the result of a comparison process and an inevitable decreased self-esteem.

The concluding part restates the main idea supported by arguments. This points out that indeed, women's self-esteem as well as the aggressiveness of the advertising world tends to determine the consumer to become more reluctant in terms of the choice for purchasing.

Literature review

There are numerous studies which deal with this particular issue, from different areas of research. In this sense, an important study on the issue of beauty as the underlining factor for self-esteem and the way in which perception is constructed as a social phenomenon is Murray Webster's "Beauty as status," published in the American Journal of Sociology. The author tries to point out the essential role beauty plays in the society and in the professional life, regardless of race and gender. Furthermore, another study supports this belief. Thus, Markus M. Mobius and Tanya S. Rosenblat in "Why Beauty Matters?" published in the American Economic Review offers a better perspective of the economic implications of beauty especially at the workplace.

Another important resource for the paper is Amanda Bower's "Highly Attractive Models in Advertising and the Women Who Loathe Them: The Implications of Negative Affect for Spokesperson Effectiveness" published in the Journal of Advertising. This article clearly points out the implications of the spokesperson for the advertising campaign she is part of in relation to the targeted consumer. Moreover, the author stresses the psychological effect attractive women have on less attractive women or women with low self-esteem and how this effect projects in the success of an ad campaign.

Analysis

Part 1 -- perception of advertising HAMs across racial lines

There is a wide perception on the fact that white and black women have different views on certain aspects of life which eventually include self-esteem and personal issues. This may be the result of different backgrounds. Some of the most famous fashion icons are white. Examples in this sense range from Coco Chanel to top fashion models such as Cindy Crawford or Claudia Schiffer. While Coco Chanel was not considered to be a beauty in the traditional style, Cindy Crawford or Claudia Schiffer have inspired top designers and, years after their retirement from fashion, are still the symbols of famous fashion brands such as Guess or Yves Saint Laurent. By comparison, the African-American enjoyed Naomi Cambell as one of the most successful models in fashion history. Yet, given her spirited nature and the controversies surrounding her career, she may be seen as just the exception to confirm a rule of white supremacy in the fashion world. Thus, while white women have rarely been the clear subjects of oppressive treatments, black women in the community experienced difficulties and hardships which offered them a different background experience. From this point-of-view, there are opinions which suggest that issues related to self-esteem, such as anorexia, bulimia are most often disorders associated with white women rather than with black women, and thus white women are more prone to influences from advertising than black women

This discrepancy, according to research, is not just a reality of today's world. The aspect of commercialization of the social, economic, and political life is visible throughout generations and race lines. Dia Sekayi points out in this sense that in fact the spirit of commercialization affects all generations, regardless of culture or age (2003). However, she argues that children and teenagers are most affected. Indeed, this is a natural reaction to the way in which children in particular are attracted by visual and audio advertising as an innovative element of communication. Even so, black children are less likely to be influenced by them, as opposed to the white children community. This can be explained by a constant inferiority in terms of incomes on an average calculation. Therefore, it can be argued that the young generations of black people are less likely to experience this influence of commercial advertising.

The discussion on the way in which HAMs (highly attractive models) influence the self-esteem through advertising is even possible because there have been numerous studies to conclude that women, through their nature, tend to consider the HAM a reference point for its own body image and aspect. This is one of the main reasons for which fashion icons such as Christian Dior or the Victoria Secret House have been recently trying to include fashion models which have different sizes. A need for a more curvy fashion was considered, seeing that all too often the constant comparison of health women led to eating disorders or behavioral changes. More precisely, it is mentioned that "in studies on the United States and other countries, unrealistic beauty standards are often implicated in low self-esteem and unhealthy behavior among adolescent girls. Scholars in fields such as sociology, anthropology, psychology, and public health have addressed this topic, placing teenage girls' perceptions of their bodies in the context of cause (impossibly thin and perfect media images of women) and effects (i.e., low self-esteem, rampant dieting, eating disorders)" (Casanova, 2004)

Regardless of the general effects the advertising world has on the self-esteem, there is a difference across racial line. Not all races behave the same. There is a different cultural and social background which enables especially young adolescent girls to adapt the influences of the advertising world to an already existing set of values. In this sense, a study made on teenagers from Ecuador pointed out the fact that the influence of advertising is less important than in the case of the white teenagers. In this sense, "these young women openly espouse ideals of beauty quite similar to (and in some cases identical to) the Caucasian prototype, while tending toward less rigid judgments of beauty in everyday life as well as supportive peer interaction" (Casanova, 2004).

The consensus among researchers is a clear understanding that the role of culture plays a major part. There is a clear predominance of white supermodels and white women were able to compare themselves more to the ideal white Caucasian woman appearing in famous fashion catalogs than black women. This is an important aspect because it offers a perspective on the way in which the perception related to the physical appearance of models plays a part in influencing the perception over one's own body. The predominance of white models transformed what in most cases is an isolated image into one which is the standard beauty for the common white Caucasian woman. This in turn influences the way in which self-esteem is created and the way in which people eventually relate to the advertisement.

The difference in perception lies therefore in the cultural lines. Women and teenagers from different cultures or races tend to create a different female community. The example of the African-American is obvious in this sense. They tend to value more the uniqueness of the female figure rather than its measurements or size (White, 2004. This is also due to the different perceptions of beauty. For this reason, women of color are predominantly curvier and tend to consider this as a sense of pride. By comparison, the ideal white woman is usually a small size. Therefore, the line across races allows black women to become immune to certain HAMs and even reject HAM figure as a beauty standard.

Part II -- beauty as a social and economic factor

The term of "beauty" is rather difficult to explain as well as… [END OF PREVIEW]

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