Standards About Body and Beauty Through Ads

The Outline

1. Introduction.

2. The influence of beauty and body and how people view themselves.

3. The connection between beauty/body with social acceptance and/or success.

4. Changing and presenting the identities.

5. The standards of female beauty or male attractiveness.

6. Conclusion.


Mass media is often called the “fourth estate”, judging by the great influence it has on the society. Movies, musical videos and commercials promote certain image of the way successful people should look like. Advertisements influence the images about beauty and body negatively, because they often lead to serious psychological problems like the decrease of self-esteem, extreme dieting and apathy.

The Influence of Beauty and Body and How People View Themselves

Females tend to focus on their problems more than males and are also more influences by the public opinion the commercials create. People usually do not count with the fact that they are different from the actors in the commercial and that is why it might be problematic for them to look and act like them. Social class, ethnicity, race, and gender issues impose on females contradictory viewpoints on the image of an ideal woman. The image of a sexually provocative female who is exhausted by numerous diets and looks like a teenage boy rather than like a grown-up woman creates a conflict between the perception of the real self and the desire to be like a beautiful star from the TV. Even though men also have problems with perception of themselves in the context of the popular images created by mass-media, they are not that suggestible as women and teenagers, who are less psychologically stable.

The Connection Between Beauty/Body with Social Acceptance and Success

Santrock (2001) notes that emotional development of an adolescent is not full without establishing a coherent and realistic sense of identity in the context of her/his surrounding. The notion of identity includes current real image of the adolescent, how she/he perceives her/himself right now, and how she/he imagines the “possible self”, which refers to the desired image an adolescent wants to achieve.

Many people who are suggestible to the images of ideal body, imposed by the commercials, have problems with self-esteem. It happens due to the gap between their desired image of self and their real one. Jaffe (1998) emphasizes the following expressions of the low self-esteem:

  • Submissiveness;

  • Being extremely shy and avoiding expressing her point of view;

  • Having unrealistic expectations of herself;

  • Rejecting compliments and disliking her looks;

  • Feeling anxiety regarding the future;

  • Lack of energy;

  • Depression and apathy;

  • Feeling insecure and odd.

Being slim is one of the most key characteristics of a successful person in the modern society. It the person is slim, he/she is hardworking and active, so they fit into the ideal image from the commercials. In a contrary, those people who have problems with weight suffer from social disapproval and often hear stereotypical ideas that if they are not fit, they are lazy and unprofessional.

Changing and Presenting the Identities

Adolescents and women are very concerned about their appearance and when their body image does not correspond to the popular beauty trends (nowadays, it is a thin person) they try to change it. Their attempts often lead to extreme dieting and result in bulimia, anorexia nervosa, and other eating disorders.

According to the survey conducted by Dounchis, Hayden, Wilfley (2001), between 0.5% and 1% of all adolescent girls in the United States from 12 to 18 years old are anorexic, from 1% to 3% are bulimic, with approximately 20% having unhealthy dieting behaviors. Even though boys sometimes also suffer from these eating disorders, the 90 percent are comprised of adolescent girls.

Heldman writes:

On every newsstand, impossibly slim (and digitally airbrushed) cover “girls” adorn a slew of magazines. With each image, you’re hit with a simple, subliminal message: Girls’ and women’s bodies are objects for others to visually consume. If such images seem more ubiquitous than ever, it’s because U.S. residents are now exposed to 3,000 advertisements a day—as many per year as those living a half century ago would have seen in a lifetime. The Internet accounts for much of this growth, and young people are particularly exposed to advertising: 70 percent of 15- to 34-year-olds use social networking technologies such as MySpace and Facebook, which allow advertisers to infiltrate previously private communication space” (“Out-of-Body Image”).

The Standards of Female Beauty and Male Attractiveness

Beauty standards for women are usually considered to be the signs of youth, health and fertility. The key characteristics are full lips, lustrous hair, smooth and clear skin, bright lively eyes and symmetrical facial features. Men also tend to find women with equal body proportions more attractive than just slim one. Though, the image of a beautiful modern female does not show the waist-to-hip ratio, but cultivates the image of fashion model, which creates psychological problems for many women.

The image of an ideal and successful man, created by the mass-media is the image of an entertainer. They need to tell funny jokes, make women laugh, dance, play the musical instrument and sing the songs of love. It is also obligatory to be a millionaire or at least to be a charismatic Mafioso. A great number of men are not able to turn into the clowns when they speak to women and it often also cause the inner conflict between the ideal desired image and the perception of the real personality.


The big number of commercials that impose the image of a sexual slim woman and a man-entertainer make people change the way they present themselves. The majority of people want to be approved and praised by others, so they try to meet their expectations and alter their natural behavioral pattern. This often leads to emotional breakdowns, dissatisfaction with life, low self-esteem and eating disorders. Chances are that there should not be that much propaganda of the body cult in the mass media, because the negative effects of it are evident.

Works Cited

Dounchis, J. Z., Hayden, H. A., & Wilfley, D. E. “Obesity, body image, and eating disorders in ethnically diverse children and adolescents”. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association. (2001). Web. 13 November 2013.

Heldman, Caroline. “Out-of-Body Image”. (2008). Ms. Magazine. Web. 13 November 2013.

Jaffe, M. L. “Adolescence”. New York: Wiley. (1998). Web. 13 November 2013.

Santrock, J. W. “Adolescence” (8th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill. (2001). Web. 13 November 2013.

Zimmerman, Marc A.; Copeland, Laurel A. “A longitudinal study of self-esteem: implications for adolescent development.” Journal of Youth and Adolescence. (1997). Web. 13 November 2013.

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