Advertising Has Targeted Women for Decades

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Research Proposal From television commercials to radio to print ads, advertising has defined the meaning of perfection. Most notably, advertising dictates what to eat, what to wear, where to go and who to be seen with. At the same time that childhood obesity is at an all time high, women in our society are facing advertising's idealized portrayal of unrealistic bodies. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia and a multitude of other self inflicted diseases are running rampant in societies nationwide. Our group was intrigued by the relationship between women and advertising. College aged women often find themselves as the target of many advertisements. At a time when women are told to define themselves and mature, advertisers recognize their vulnerability and use this to their advantage. Through thorough research of a variety of investigative journals, we plan to illustrate the relationship between advertisements and women's body image. Advertising has changed the way people consume goods and services. Since the boom of the 1920s, the advertising industry has tried to convince people why they need to purchase the newest product on the market. Even more astounding, the advertising industry has succeeded in changing the way they people feel about themselves. In magazines and newspapers, women often seek out images of thin models, even when they anticipate that the images will make them feel badly (Milkie, 1999). Oddly enough, those who have internalized the media ideal, exposure to images featuring this ideal are likely to activate the comparison process. Because few women can meet the beauty standards created by this ideal, dissatisfaction with one’s own appearance is a likely outcome of this comparison process (Engeln-Maddox, 2005). Through our research we plan on investigating the thought process of women with different advertisements and

2 their perceptions about themselves. Knowing that some women actively seek out these unrealistic images, we plan on investigating why they continue to act with these mannerisms. Furthermore, we also want to uncover where women look for these images and at what age they started to do so. Our investigations will look into actions women have taken to change their image such as diet, plastic surgery and exercise, to see whether there is a relationship between dissatisfaction with body image and steps taken to change it. Because the effects of advertising have such an impact on many women’s lives, in the past there have been many researchers who are asking the very questions that we hope to find answers to in our experiment. One such experiment that was conducted by Gayle R. Bessenof (2006) focused on how the media affects society’s everyday perception of themselves, more specifically the damaging effects on women. She focused on how the thin ideal in many advertisements has an affect on women and the way they compare themselves to others and how it may create self-discrepancies in many women. The research was conducted by exposing some participants to fashion advertisements with thin, beautiful models as primers, while others were exposed to neutral advertisements. The participants were then asked to answer questionnaires about what feelings they experienced while they were looking through the advertisements. After the experiment many of the researcher’s assumptions were correct about the effect that the thin-ideal has on women. Bessenoff found that the women who were exposed to the thinideal advertisements were much more likely to experience feelings about depression, weight concerns, low self-esteem, and bad moods than the women who were shown neutral ads before the questionnaire (Bessenoff). Very much like Bessenoff, we are

3 interested in how advertisements affect the self-esteem of a woman. The previous research that she has conducted gives us the ability to have some insight about how thinidealized advertisements affect the feelings of women. The average body size of the idealized,...
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