Is media playing with your self image?

The sudden barrage of advertisements by beauty giants featuring old Bollywood actresses like Madhuri Dixit, Kajol and Sonali Bendre has made me pretty furious. The way they are showing the absence of wrinkles as a huge achievement of these girls is a shameless distortion of what counts in life. Are they trying to say that none of the love, appreciation, education, travel or anything that a woman has done counts for anything? That only how many lines the woman has one her face, and that too being a totally natural part of aging, and how many spots can be seen under a microscope and how she can wear thing which she used to wear when she was 20 - these are the only crtieria for a life well lived? How ridiculous! I feel very disappointed and enraged at the way these marketers have gone hand in glove with the media and the government; and are then manipulating unsuspecting masses.

Self image is a person’s mental picture of themselves in terms of both their physicality and personality. It’s a combination of someone’s thoughts about what they think they look like, what they think others think of them, how much they like themselves and how they see and feel about their status in life. Self esteem is closely related to self image, as self esteem is a person’s feelings about themselves and these feelings are normally informed by their self image. 

Once someone’s self image has developed, it can be somewhat difficult for them to change it. If someone develops negative opinions of themselves, then their self esteem will be low. In today's scenario with easy access to information from across the world, media has a very important role to play here. Through Photo Manipulation, messaging and role models, they influence gullible young boys and girls. Actually why just young, people across ages, countries and background tend to get influenced by what is the popular view in beauty, success and achievements. Starting from 1960s, the American media led these changes by making changes in skin tones, the lighting and shadow plays on body parts, and pretty much the overall appearance of models.

Some say that this trend of making feel inadequate nad hence manipulating their emptions was started in the west. Seventeen magazine, a popular one in the US, is notorious for using image-altering software to crowbar all of its models into whichever body shape we've all decided is best this decade. Though there have been researches that proved that this type of marketing is directly linked to the rise in eating disorders and self-harm among teenage girls, but magazines continue to use these strategies, because, man, anxiety and low self-esteem are effective ways to trick kids into spending their parents' money on silly bullshit. But this is not the end to this story.

Horrified that the middle school girls in her ballet class were complaining about how fat they felt, one 14-year-old girl named Julie Bluhm from Waterville, Maine, put together a petition asking for something incredible: She wanted Seventeen to stop using Photoshop to make its models thinner and publish one unaltered photo of a model each month. This is like asking McDonald's to drop meat from its menu.

And when was the last time an online petition changed anything, right? Well, Bluhm's petition on quickly got over 84,000 signatures, at which time Seventeen Editor-in-Chief Ann Shoket wrote a letter in the magazine promising to never alter their models' body or face shapes, and to display a diverse range of body types and "celebrate every type of beauty." Now, it's worth mentioning that the magazine didn't really acknowledge that they decided to do this because of a petition -- it's as though the idea sprang fully formed into their own minds by coincidence. But Bluhm says that she doesn't mind -- "However they want to say it in their magazine is fine. The important thing is they agreed to what we asked them to." And since then, similar campaigns have been started against other magazines, like Teen Vogue.

In India too there have been petitions or complaints raised by various groups regarding such actions of the cosmetic industry, marketeers and the media. But we are still far behind when it comes to being able to force companies to take back unacceptable and offensive actions. The cosmetics company L'Oreal ran an advertisement featuring the actress Julia Roberts. After investigation, Britain's Advertising Standards Authority banned the ad from release in the UK. The ad contained no nudity or any other offending content, just the flawless face of the 44-year-old Roberts without a single sign of aging. The ad was pulled because the product being sold did not cause the perfection of the actress's skin; this effect was achieved by means of digital airbrushing, a technique commonly used in advertising that makes an already beautiful person appear perfect beyond what is humanly possible. So, what this means is now they longer hire unbelievably beautiful and perfect people for their advertisements, but they digitally make them even more perfect! While I do have a fundamental problem with creating a hype around perfect skin as the answer all of people's problems, artificial manipulation of a model / actress's skin and using it to affect the self image of millions is totally unacceptable and unethical according to me.

There is a lot available to be read on these topics online and the world is your e-book if you are as concerned about this trend in marketing, media and advertising.From my side, all I advise whoever asks me about beauty products, surgeries and botox: 

Age is something that doesn't matter, unless you are a cheese.
~ Billie Burke

but then of course...


Some sources:


This is a well researched post Canary! Yes, media is playing a game and we join without our knowledge.
I have tagged you here. Please accept if you can.

Someone is Special
Canary said…
Sure, will accept :)
will get writing in some time...
Karan Shah said…
it sure is a marketing gimmick adopted by the Media and the Company's and sadly we don't have strong laws and those we have we hardly implement them.

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