Cutting Down Size

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"Cutting Girls Down to Size"

We've all heard the the argument that magazines, television, movies, and advertisements are causing girls to feel more and more insecure about their physical appearance. Many of us have seen the statistics and studies, the ones that say things like "40 to 80 percent of fourth-grade girls are dieting" and "one-third of twelve- to thirteen-year-old girls are actively trying to lose weight by dieting, vomiting, using laxatives, or taking diet pills" (Kilbourne 261). In her article, "The More You Subtract, The More You Add: Cutting Girls Down to Size," Jean Kilbourne shows clearly the effect she believes the media has on women, especially young women.

It is pretty easy to see how various forms of media can influence the young women of our culture to feel bad about the way they look. We are bombarded with images of incredibly thin women with perfect skin and hair. What girl wouldn't feel bad about themselves after look at hundreds of perfect-looking women? But Kilbourne's argument is even deeper here. She argues that body image isn't the only thing our media influences. She argues that not only are these images causing women to feel like they need to be "cut down to size" physically; they are also cutting women down in regards to the power and voice.

Kilbourne mentions a number of examples of phrases from advertisements that seem to encourage this idea, some of them saying things like: "make a statement without saying a word," "The silence of a look can reveal more than words," and "More than words can say" (Kilbourne 263). All of these advertisements come from perfumes, clothing, or makeup products. It's as if these advertisements are saying to girls, "your voice doesn't matter. What matters is your appearance," and Kilbourne would argue that's exactly what they're saying.

This kind of message can have a huge negative effect on women, especially young women. Teenagers already have a low self esteem because of the many changes they are going through. They also have a tendency to believe that their voice doesn't matter because they are still children. The girls who are bombarded with these silence messages, then, get it twice. And fitting in is one of the most important things to girls this age, which means they are more likely to follow the advice of these advertisements in the hopes that it will make them fit in. Those that don't are often seen as strange or even masculine.

Some companies have recognised this problem, and at least one has started doing something about it. Dove's self esteem campaign, of which the following video is a part of, has attempted to do something about it. And while it is very true that this campaign is far from enough, it is a step in the right direction.

A Catering Service for Females
When most people hear the word “catering” they often think of a service that brings food to a location and then serves it to the people there, whether it be a party, a wedding, a funeral, or a business meeting. And yet this is not the only type of catering that is being done in our 21st century society and ironically the other type of catering discourages the consumption of food. Advertisements and their catering towards women develop an ideal vision that is virtually unattainable and leads women on a constant search that ends in disappointment, low self-esteem, eating disorders, and on occasion, death. Looking at advertisements that focused on women from the past fifty years shows that ads only portrayed that time period’s “beautiful woman” then as well. This type of targeting has always been present to some extent but it is becoming progressively more out of control and dangerous as time goes by. The role that advertisements play in the daily life of females has become quite a vicious cycle that seems to have no apparent end. There is no doubt about it that female adolescents take the biggest blow from the advertising world. Being what is referred to now as a...
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