Today: Feb 29, 2024

‘Image’ and reality often don’t match

Mackenzie HurlbertStaff Writer

Body image is a common insecurity among too many women and men in today’s society, and this unnecessary pressure to obtain the “perfect” body is a sick seed planted by the media and advertisement agencies.

How many times do you see a swimsuit advertisement with women who aren’t completely toned and tan or who have a little bit of cellulite? How often does a commercial come on for McDonalds of a realistic customer eating a cheeseburger, instead of a slim, bony-armed model and her boyfriend with a six-pack? I’m not saying these situations are impossible, but are they realistic? I think not.

While obesity may be a looming problem among Americans today, so is the threat of eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. We as a society can find a common, acceptable and healthy state between these two extremes, but advertisements are pushing the impossible: the woman in the McDonalds commercial is eating a cheeseburger and fries, yet looks to be at most a size two. This advertisement is saying, “This is what you should eat”—the burger and fries—while also saying, “This is what you should look like”—the model who’s pretending to chow down. It’s no wonder why we as Americans are plagued with problems of eating disorders, obesity and depression. Who wouldn’t be depressed when the magical world of advertisement is constantly telling you you’re failing by their standards and that a size two eating a burger is perfectly normal?

This whole rant was sparked by an article I read on Yahoo today about celebrities being Photoshopped on the covers of magazines and advertisements. One example was Kate Middleton, the new Duchess of Cambridge, whose picture was seriously altered on the cover of the Grazia magazine. Not only was her waist slimmed to ridiculous, Barbie doll proportions, but the magazine even Photoshopped her arm to be holding a bouquet with both hands instead of one, in order to create a more “classic” pose.

The article also mentioned some celebrities who chose to pose un-retouched and without make-up for the 2010 Most Beautiful People issue of People’s magazine. These celebs included Heidi Klum and Taylor Swift, and their goal was to promote natural beauty; not the computer-altered façade which media and advertisements often portray.

The most shocking instance I discovered of Photoshopped images of celebrities was a picture of Kourtney Kardashian on the cover of OK! Magazine, taken after she had her son Mason. Not only did they whiten Kourtney’s teeth and slim her arms, but they changed the color of her son’s clothes to a pure white—again, another more “classic” characteristic of innocence—and they totally erased her stomach, which was an unrealistic size for a woman who just had a baby. The magazine then boasted about Kourtney’s sensational post-baby body. After realizing what they had done, Kourtney posted the original picture and the doctored one on her blog, in order to show what a realistic and healthy new mother looks like.

While looking back and forth from the original picture to the altered one, I couldn’t believe that media agencies are shallow enough to unrealistically portray a new mother as a skinny, belly-free model. Not only is that altered photo a total lie, but it’s also providing a false image for women to aspire to, which could possibly pressure new mothers to take on unhealthy lifestyles in order to obtain this perfect body, which is only possible in the magical world of advertisements.

So next time you’re mindlessly flipping through a magazine or searching the TV for a good show, take a second to study an advertisement. Do the women have wrinkles? Freckles? Smile lines? Kneecaps? What you find—more so, what you don’t find—will most definitely surprise you.

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