If a picture is a thousand words, what sort of story do the faces on Glamor, Vogue, and Redbook tell?
Those faces might be characters from a fantasy-land replete with idealistic images, wishful thinking, and thinly veiled smiles masking the lofty and unattainable goals of external beauty. And these periodicals with pretty pictures – tempting men, challenging women – can be had at any grocery store or magazine rack for the low price of a Starbucks latte – even cheaper with a yearlong subscription.
Tragically, not only has the marketing industry has tapped into some of the very things that makes us “tick,” it has exploited society and encouraged it to yearn toward these unreachable heights of beauty.
I temper this post with the understand that altering pictures is not inherently wrong. Amateurs and professionals alike adjust light, hue, and saturation to obtain the optimum image. Many even use blur tools to refine pictures to make them perfect.
Clearly, advertisers have a vested interest in promoting products with attractive-looking individuals; consumers respond positively to this.
The danger lies at the flash point – the instant where models-images cease promoting the brand and instead raise a Siren’s song to motivate individuals to reach an impossible beauty.
I’m not sure where this flash point is. I’m sure it varies from individual to individual. And I’m curious – where do you, reader, witness this flash point? When do billboard models cease advertising a brand and instead become a catalyst for young teenage women to sink to bulimia or anorexia? Should we even apportion blame to advertisers? Perhaps parents should serve as more stalwart gatekeepers. But does placing the culpability on parents release the social responsibility of advertisers?
Below, I’ve included a YouTube video of one billboard model. I’ll have more to comment Ralph Lauren’s most recent debacle later this week.