Advertisements – “Killing Us Softly”



“Killing Us Softly?” Ads and their influence.

For the remainder of the week, spend time observing the presence of advertisements in your life. Sure, you’ll see them on TV, but don’t overlook your own closet, or the hallways in school. After thinking about this, view the video linked below. Do you feel, as Jean Kilbourne does in this presentation, that ads are subliminally informing our values and our ideas of normalcy?

React to this and to anything else you find interesting in the video. Feel free to connect with our classroom discussions of gender representation in advertisements. And of course, comment on a classmate’s post in addition to sharing your ideas.

Killing Us Softly – Jean Kilbourne



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58 Comments to

“Advertisements – “Killing Us Softly””

  1. January 9th, 2018 at 8:33 pm       ryang7 Says:

    I find most interesting how people see themselves as being “immune” to advertising. Everyone always thinks, “This won’t affect me; I’m too smart.” The problem though, is that everyone is too smart. People have an innate ability to subconsciously or consciously pick up on small patterns. It is why we see faces in almost everything. Those who create advertisements, however, are completely aware of it, and use it to their advantage. While on the surface, an ad might say “buy our burger,” advertisers will have put in hours of work prepping that “burger” to look as appetizing as possible. They may even go so far as to put non-food items in the place of real ones, such as glistening red paint for ketchup, to trick our senses into wanting that specific burger. Another subliminal factor that plays into advertising is the mere-exposure effect. The more often someone sees something, the more likely they are to prefer it over something else. While the dangers of subliminal advertising are relatively low, other fields can have a much more dangerous effect in our minds. As Kilbourne went into, the beauty industry’s ads show nothing short of utter perfection. Makeup commercials often don’t even use their own product in their ads and digitally enhance them. Our repeated exposure to these “goddesses” creates a preference to them in the real world, which could lead to disaster as these standards are nearly impossible to obtain. In their pursuit, many may turn to extremely unhealthy habits, and even develop mental diseases from depression to anorexia. Advertisers have an exuberant amount of power over our minds, and it is time they use this power much more wisely.

    • January 10th, 2018 at 4:30 pm       danielleg6 Says:

      Ry- I really like your comments about subconscious advertising. Even people who think they are immune to ads fall victim to it… I know I do. I don’t know how many times I’ve made us get pizza for dinner because I saw a dominos commercial and thought huh I want pizza and I don’t know why. Also one of my favorite advertising stories ever is that ice cream companies use mashed potatoes in their billboards because ice cream melts during a photo shoot so you reminded me of that when you talked about ketchup being thrown out for red paint. But, that could just be the twinstincts thing.

      • January 11th, 2018 at 12:46 am       jennifere1 Says:

        Ryan, I was very interested by your comment that everyone thinks they are “too smart.” When I was reading up on this, I found its name – illusory superiority. This “cognitive bias” applies to even more things than advertisements because it seriously skews one’s self-perception. One of the clearest examples of this was a survey attached to the SAT – 25% of students rated themselves as being in the top 1% of “ability to get along with others.” While this inflated self-perception might make consumers more conscious of advertisements they consider themselves “too smart” for, this psychological phenomenon is widely studied and is almost certainly incorporated into advertisements. I like your suggestion of subliminal messaging as that definitely makes a small but significant impact on the consumer.

  2. January 10th, 2018 at 1:00 pm       danielleg6 Says:

    Powerful and almost omnipresent, advertising agencies take advantage of human instinct and emotion. The first and most obvious example is “sex sells.” The focus of Kilbourne’s video, this issue has far reaching consequences. If I close my eyes, and picture myself in New York City, the first things I see are giant billboard ads. And on these ads are over sexualized women (and men). Ads for everything from makeup to Broadway shows fall guilty to oversexualization. It is because of ads like these that the thin, tall, white, “beautiful” woman is considered “normal.” But, of course, she can’t go to the extreme on any of these things either. It might seem like a less serious afterthought, but I have to bring up One Tree Hill. One of my favorite quotes from the show is “Don’t be too fat, or too thin or too dark or too light, don’t be too sexual or too chased or too smart or too dumb! Be yourself. But make sure you fit in.” This is advertising standards. Advertising standards may sell more items, but they take advantage of our emotions, making us think we need the product in order to fit in. Another set of examples are the commercials that make you cry everytime you watch them. Kilbourne didn’t mention this emotional ad in her video, but I couldn’t help but draw the connection. Ads like this attack guilt. Everyone knows the “In the Arms of the Angel” ad for animal adoption. I know I’ve cried at it. But what most people don’t realize is that by appealing to sadness, the ad makes you feel guilty for not adopting a dog. (Don’t get me wrong here I absolutely believe in adoption but I had to point out what the ad was doing.) Just like there are countless examples of the overly sexualized ad, there are countless examples of the overly emotional ad. And both of these kinds of ads have innumerable effects in our society.

    • January 10th, 2018 at 8:39 pm       oliviam3 Says:

      I love your reference to One Tree Hill. That is such a good quote for women (and men) to remember. I also think your view on emotional ad is quite interesting an true. I too have cried at those adoption videos. They do guilt you into doing/buying what ever they are selling. Too add to that example there is also the commercials to donate to the ST.Judes Hospital. I feel guilty for not donating to struggling kids when I am healthy. But you are right, it is way to get you to do what they want and its manipulative and has effects on our society.

  3. January 10th, 2018 at 8:34 pm       oliviam3 Says:

    What I thought was the most disturbing ad that Kilbourne referenced the ad for ‘the ‘. I was distraught at first because obviously at first glance all you see is large breasts and not what it was actually advertising. Then I was confused when she said it was for a fishing-line company. I don’t see how fishing and breasts correlate. My only reason why the two were paired it quite alarming. As the hobby of fishing is considered to be a ‘male activity’ – which in that of itself is troubling as any activity shouldn’t be labeled ‘male’ or ‘female’ – men like to see breasts. Of course mens’ attention will be grasped if they see breasts. I find it discouraging that anatomical feature of woman would be used so deliberaty without any regard to the female perception. I find that really disheartening that a company would have to go to such a shallow plot and take advantage of women to sell their product instead of focusing on the features of the product. Although I felt uncomfortable through the video for Kilbourne pointing out distressing features of everyday media, I was happy to reflect the progress we have made since 2006 (when this was posted). Recently Aerie, the lingerie brand of American Eagle, started an ad campaign with ‘real women’. They use models of all sizes and skin tones to showcase their products. The ads are supposedly not photoshop in order to capture the natural beauty of women. Although they were promoting a body positive image, they were hit with widespread criticism following the launch. People, mainly men, did not find the real body-types appealing. However, they were praised for their progressive campaign and still continue to showcase real bodies in ads. Another, more recent campaign was Nike’s where it was widely praised on including a woman wearing an hijab. This was also a step to have more inclusive ad campaigns in regard to races and culture. This is also a positive commercial to note as it did not focus on woman’ physical features, but instead for their strength. Lastly I want to praise Dove – not including the latest insensitive t-shirt ad. A majority of them feature varying races and showcases the beauty within, as well as having people with non-perfect skin. My sister liked when they had a red head freckled girl (my sister has red hair and freckles) because that was the first time she ever saw one in an advertisement. This all goes to prove the progress we have made compared to the models in the video – the skinny, white, blemish free models. However these are just baby steps in the realm of mistreatment of women.

    • January 10th, 2018 at 10:18 pm       alanahm2 Says:

      Olivia, I really appreciated your referencing the “real women” campaign. That is such an excellent example of progress! As soon as companies discover that this message can sell just as well or possibly even better than the unrealistic ads, this will hopefully become the norm and not the exception.

    • January 10th, 2018 at 11:27 pm       jennar4 Says:

      Olivia, I love that you took this opportunity to focus on the recent positive changes in advertising. It is true that in recent years ads have become more progressive and less harmful, though we still have a long way to go. There seems to be a connection between increased activity on social media, allowing more visibility into the online world and more far reaching discussion of harmful societal discourses, and the increasing positivity of advertisements. Individuals are exposed to more ads online, have a platform to discuss these ads, and have started widespread movements to end the toxicity of advertising. Brands have taken notice of this new trend of societal awareness and adjusted accordingly. Maybe this is another ploy to engage an audience by being “woke”, but it is nonetheless a step in the right direction. Thank goodness we have started to move away from such a harmful marketing sphere!

    • January 11th, 2018 at 1:20 am       ericcheng Says:

      Olivia, I like how you included the story of your younger sister appreciating the inclusion of all types of women in the Dove advertisement. The advertisement industry has come a long way, but they still have obvious flaws. I think what makes advertising the most difficult is making the commercial appeal to everyone (which is very difficult) and keeping up with the modern times/atmosphere of society.

  4. January 10th, 2018 at 8:43 pm       oliviam3 Says:

    its the ‘most dependable fishing line in the world’ (sorry I meant to go back in the video to get the exact wording but accidentally submitted before i did)

  5. January 10th, 2018 at 10:10 pm       alanahm2 Says:

    Advertisements are subtle weapons. Planting subliminal messages, they instill insecurity in their audiences; this is why they are so effective. In order to sell a product, the advertisers must highlight a problem it solves; even if they must create the problem themselves.
    A few years ago when was at a beach in Mexico with my mom and my sister, the producer of Canada’s Next Top Model ran over to my mom and said “your daughter has to model!”; my mom then said “I have two daughters.” As my sister and I were standing side by side, he pointed directly at my sister and said “I mean that one.” It was one of the most bizarre experiences of my life. I was truly upset; not only because he blatantly disparaged my appearance, but also because he was obviously accustomed to doing so. He did not consider for a second that I was a young girl; to him, my sister was nothing more than a business opportunity, and I was simply not. I caught a glimpse into the ugly reality behind the flawless pictures. At castings models stand in a line, side by side, as my sister and I stood, and are judged solely on their appearance in relation to those of the girls or boys standing next to them. The casting directors are not looking for people… they are looking for 5′ 11”, blonde hair, blue eyes, 24″ waist, olive skin. It is dehumanizing. Thankfully, in recent years the modeling industry has made strides to include individuals of more sizes and races, yet these individuals continue to set unattainable standards. These high standards, however, fuel the advertisement industry. People don’t want what they already have. As much as I hope the nature of advertisement will change, I understand that it is nothing more than an industry — fueled by money. In order to modify the pictures, we must change what sells — we must alter the narrative.

    • January 10th, 2018 at 10:41 pm       benm2 Says:

      Your life experience is really interesting! It’s crazy how the producer wanted your sister to be a model, even at such a young age and even blatantly said that your sister looked better. The idea that people use women as a “business opportunity”. Also, the screening process truly is dehumanizing because they judge based on physical looks only, not personality or talent, because they respect women for their looks.

    • January 10th, 2018 at 11:23 pm       michaelam Says:

      Alanah, your point regarding that companies will “create the problem themselves” in order to sell a product or idea is unsettling, yet very true. As evident in your personal story, it is unquestionable that these companies prey on people’s insecurities and appearance for the sole purpose of money. It is scary knowing that their message is translated from the television screen to real life, and that they are unaffected by the consequences. Plus, just by the fact that the man did not want you to be a model for his company is a clear indication that this modeling agency is messed up and so are these advertisements.

    • January 10th, 2018 at 11:46 pm       lindseya4 Says:

      Alanah, I love how you refer to advertisements as subtle weapons because that’s exactly what they are. Companies deliberately create ads they know will affect people but disguise their intentions with an appeal to something else (ie. creativity, fantasy etc). Also, I think your personal connection to this topic accurately depicts everything that is wrong with modern beauty standards. Well done!

    • January 10th, 2018 at 11:56 pm       tarap1 Says:

      Oh my god Alanah, that is so terrible! I am sorry that happened to you. It goes to show that the industry is shallow minded, valuing your breasts and waist over your mind. A model is defined as a system or thing used as an example to follow or imitate. Models should be representing good ideals and values for us to follow, not unrealistic thigh gaps and waistline sizes.

  6. January 10th, 2018 at 10:36 pm       benm2 Says:

    I find it interesting how the article addressed the idea that people think that they are immune to the effects of advertising. Thinking back, I thought that I never paid attention to advertisements but now it is clear how much they do because I always seem to buy clothes from the same stores or buy the same brands, for no real reason. It’s crazy how much advertisement a person truly experiences, even if they don’t consciously take attention to it, three full years worth. The video has several strong points. The idea that advertisements create an idea of “normalcy” is very true, especially for females. Females strive to be like the models displayed in advertisements, even if the standards are unrealistic or unhealthy. This leads women to living dangerous lifestyles just to fit the “expected” image of women, even if most men don’t really care about how skinny women are. Also, image altering software like photoshop makes unreal standards for women in ads that are impossible to achieve. Women live in a world where they have to focus on their body, where men don’t have to face problems as severe.

  7. January 10th, 2018 at 11:03 pm       mcguirky Says:

    When I saw the thumbnail for this video I was really confused as to what we were watching. I thought there was some mistake and I had arrived at a p0rn video. I was startled to discover that the image was from an advertisement. Women should not look like they are in a p0rn shoot when they are at an advertisement shoot! Women should not be used as a means to sell product. Companies tap into beauty standards to sell- it is evil. I think the point about breasts is interesting- companies love to use breasts in their ads because we are obsessed with them. We must assume part of the blame- we need to resist ads that hyper sexualize women and send a message to companies that we will not use their products if they continue to sexually objectify women. It isn’t all their fault. We cannot always blame societal pressures and companies- we need to take some of the blame for ourselves. We have a choice. We have authority. We must exert it.

    The word p0rn is not allowed. This is not ok.

    • January 10th, 2018 at 11:36 pm       michaell16 Says:

      I agree Liam that it is everyone’s problem, not just those who exploited it. Bringing up the cover image of the video, I was not even allowed to access the video from my student account. I needed to sign into a personal account to verify my age as the video contained explicit content. Yet the irony is that this video’s purpose is to end the exploitation of the sexes in advertisements but it is censored for ads seen on buses, in magazines, and on tv. If youtube censors it, why doesn’t the world? This is our problem and I agree that we are all responsible for fixing it.

    • January 11th, 2018 at 12:26 am       sandraj2 Says:

      I agree that women are forced to play these roles because society has already deemed them from a young age to strive to be flawless. But then that raises the question of if women continue to follow this bandwagon, when will this be resolved. It is obvious that what ads are portraying of women are dehumanizing, but are these gender roles ever going to be fully equal. Many, men and women chose to confine to it because it has been ongoing from the beginning of time, they may have adjusted slightly but never has become equal. With the ads portraying their products, as a capitalistic society they are forced to appeal to pathos to be successful, changing the product from a want to a need in buyers’ minds.

  8. January 10th, 2018 at 11:11 pm       jennar4 Says:

    The messages promoted in advertising do not exist in their own separate sphere. Themes of ads seep into everyday life – diffusing out from the economic world into society and politics. Often, advertisers even exploit this interconnectivity, profiting off of societal issues (as we saw with products like Fair and Lovely). The majority, who boast about just how unaffected they are by ads, fail to realize just how drastically advertisements can affect us, especially when we are not paying attention. Kilbourne referenced the over-sexualization of breasts in the media. This marketing tactic depends on viewers’ lust to sell a product, often one that has little to do with the breasts themselves. The dehumanizing, disrespectful, sexist, and overall toxic message here hurts not only the image of women, but the way they are allowed to behave as well. The image of breasts as hyper-sexualized body parts permeates into society, and today women all over America are being shamed for feeding their children in public. Amidst the sexual advertisements, people seem to have forgotten that breasts aren’t sexual at all. Women have breasts for the sole purpose of feeding children (this is not to say that all women are created to bear children, only that the biological function of breasts is for feeding). Yet, when mothers try to naturally nourish their babies in public, they are shamed. They are told it is disgusting, to do it in private. Mothers are some of the busiest and hardest working people on the planet; they are often running around and don’t always have the luxury of private areas to provide for their children. It is cruel to ask a woman to sit in a dirty public bathroom with an infant simply because some individuals cannot separate their sexual feelings from their everyday life. With social media especially, a movement has begun with women telling horror stories of harassment while breastfeeding, and led to an online revolution to empower women and defend their rights to provide for their children. So, for those who proudly ignore ads, maybe you should actually try to pay attention to them, and their manipulative messaging that warps natural and beneficial images into something shameful.

    • January 11th, 2018 at 12:00 am       christiner2 Says:

      Whoa! Jenna, your response was really powerful! I never knew how to feel regarding public breastfeeding, but your comment made me realize why it is considered such a taboo topic. As you stated, advertisements portray women and their bodies as trophies: the better your body, the more valuable you are. I thought that I was truly unfazed by advertisements, however after reading your comment and recognizing my neutral (kind of uncomfortable) opinion on breastfeeding, I realized that I was in fact a victim to the marketing strategies of various businesses that use the female body as a representation of lust. This totally changed my perspective and gave me a greater understanding of the extended effects of these advertisements that are seemingly disregarded by all.

  9. January 10th, 2018 at 11:30 pm       michaell16 Says:

    When comparing the ads in class, I considered myself “immune” to the messages the ads conveyed. However, Jean Kilbourne’s argument convinced me otherwise. I strongly identified with her closing sentiments- the impact of advertisement on everyone. To make significant change to societal undertones and sentiments, a combined effort must be made by men and women to identify and attack unrealistic expectations. Women and men face an onslaught of body-image stereotypes, an onslaught of confining ideals of personality(masculinity/femininity), and an onslaught of stereotypes of what jobs men and women should hold. It is not fair to anyone and it must be dealt with. By incorporating everyone into the argument a greater push for change will occur. While women may endure a greater degree of shaming than men, both must be recognized so neither are left behind. I also believe that advertising is used mercilessly to push greater materialistic and self-harming values. Advertisements inundate individuals with the idea that money, alcohol/drugs(more in movies), and beautifying goods are essential to life. But they are not. And who can stand up to hollywood and to big-business?

    • January 10th, 2018 at 11:57 pm       mcguirky Says:

      Mikey, I agree that the over sexualization of men is a less addressed, yet equally important issue. Men’s underwear is overkill. I do not need to see all that not the box. Marky mark needs to put some clothes on and get his hands off of his bulge like no thanks. That is an image for the bedroom, not for everyone to see- including kids who can learn from the over sexualization.

    • January 11th, 2018 at 12:29 am       ryang7 Says:

      I completely agree that men are also forced to conform to unrealistic stereotypes. In almost every media platform, a six pack and large chest are seen as the norm, although both of these require an extreme work ethic and diet to attain. Perhaps more dangerous though is the belief that men are not allowed to feel. The ideal man is seen as completely stoic, never showing pain or pleasure. Attempting to follow this standard, men will often repress their emotions to the point where they may even begin to suffer from mental disease.

  10. January 10th, 2018 at 11:45 pm       tarap1 Says:

    I’m gonna switch gears here and I’m gonna bring up a point that will probably get a lot of heat. I have always been confused about this so I want to hear what you guys think. We sexualize women in ads. Yes, it’s true. It promotes gender stereotypes. But what is the difference when girls come to school wearing “shorts”? What is the difference when I can see your butt cheeks and stomach. Aren’t you promoting a similar idea that these ads are promoting? Yes, I understand that sexualizing women in ads is different from the attire of girls in school. It is a personal choice for a girl to wear “shorts” in school. But before you bash companies for promoting gender stereotypes, stop and think for a moment. What are you promoting? I’m not against wearing shorts, but it just seems hypocritical to me that girls can attack companies for promoting certain stereotypes when their attire is saying the same. I am a student facilitator in SAEDA (Student Activists Ending Dating Abuse) which a training session where we train other high schoolers about feminism, racism, sexism, and all the isms you can imagine. I often find myself confused when I talk about the strengths and abilities of women and then I go on to say that women should wear anything they want. I 100% agree that women should be able to wear whatever they want. However, wearing whatever you want- a pair of “shorts”- may promote gender stereotypes and work against feminism. I really hope my thought process here does not sound dumb- I am thinking aloud.

    • January 11th, 2018 at 12:04 am       devp1 Says:

      Tara, even though you’re thinking aloud in the same room (and I hear every word of it…), I could not agree more with your views. Wouldn’t you say that it is a bit hypocritical for someone to condemn advertisers for sexualized messages if (he)/she has no issue sexualizing (him-)/herself? No, I am not saying that all women must dress conservatively to criticize advertisements, but it is definitely interesting to note the hypocrisy. If you make the decision to dress a certain way, you should not make comments on the sexualized nature of certain advertisements. No, you do not sound “dumb,” Tara, but you are a bit too loud when you think!

    • January 11th, 2018 at 1:42 am       dianag2 Says:

      Tara, I think your point about girls’ attire is interesting. Though I agree that people can be hypocritical in what they say about clothing and what they wear, I do not 100% agree. Yes, some girls wear inappropriate clothing to school, and it is completely unnecessary, but—to me—a girl’s outfit choice does not have much of a correlation with her opinion on how women are portrayed by ads. I think the larger problem about this is not what women are wearing but why. They are wearing the scandalous clothing because that is what they are told is “acceptable.” Ad directors of companies are categorizing women into a small, small group (“blonde hair, blue eyes, thin, white, etc… as mentioned in the video), and the chances of any woman naturally fitting into this character is extremely rare. I thought the Ugg ad we went over in class was very poignant because Ugg is a company that predominately sells boots, so how in any way is a woman posing naked in her Uggs promoting the boots? Again, though I do agree with your points, I took it a different way in that I think it is more damning that women are portrayed in such an unrealistic way because companies choose that message to send to society rather than just the clothes they are wearing.

  11. January 10th, 2018 at 11:48 pm       christiner2 Says:

    As was already mentioned in previous comments, the part that I found most interesting was the thought that everyone is immune to advertising. I, personally, believe that I have a very strong sense of individuality, however, when Kilbourne mocks that she hears such statements “from people wearing GAP t-shirts”, it made me realize that I am one of those people. Though I might not have realized it in the moment, I was and still am susceptible to the advertisements that set the standards for women. This reminded me of the discussion that we had in class as the holiday season was approaching. We went through various Christmas catalogs and distinguished the plethora of differences between the toys targeted for boys and those targeted for girls. As I watched this video, it made me realize that though I may be exempt from the effects of advertisements now, the advertisements that I had seen as a child may have shaped me into the person that I am today. Ranging from American Girl Dolls, Tamagotchis, Personal diaries (with a voice recognition function), and toy pets, not only did the ads intrigue me, but they also pressured me in a way to get the next “hot” toy in order to be considered cool. I am not sure whether there is a correlation between my past longing for these items and my ongoing love for children and pets (I never really enjoyed journaling, I just thought the voice recognition was cool), but had I not seen the numerous advertisements on television, I believe that I would have been more openminded with the toys that I played with. By watching ad after ad, another girl with perfectly combed hair and that giggly laugh, I unconsciously developed a “perfect girl” in my mind, and I believed that I could be closer to becoming that if only I had what she had. As I recalled my past, I realized that these advertisements can be dangerous to females who struggle to express their true selves, for they are attracted to what is considered attractive and the portrayal of women in the advertisements, as Kilbourne highlights is nonrealistic and too perfect to ever be replicated, even by the model herself.

  12. January 10th, 2018 at 11:53 pm       devp1 Says:

    After watching the video on women in advertising, I was immediately reminded of the blog post we had earlier about changing one’s skin tone. Yes, I am shocked – and horrified – by the blatant over-sexualization of women in the advertisements we’ve discussed this work (especially when compared to the ads involving men). But what else could we expect, if we are being honest with one another? As some pointed out in the earlier blog post, we live in a capitalistic society – with a bustling market economy that emphasizes profits and net worth over the implicit (and explicit) messages in advertisements. Those in the advertising industry will over-sexualize women in advertisements because – historically speaking – it has worked for their products. Going back to what Olivia mentioned in her blog post, there was a backlash by many males over the real-women campaign. Men did not find it “sexy” enough and thus did not support the larger message that is pushed by the ads with “real women.” Should we blame the advertisers for doing what it takes to earn profits and sell their products? Granted, they must be conscious of the messages they are supporting when advertising, but I personally cannot shift the entire blame on them for wanting to earn money. It goes back to what Mrs. Hampsey asked us in class when we were discussing skin tone: what would you do if you were offered a job in an advertising corporation that furthered social messages you didn’t agree with? Our sense of morals cannot interfere with our basic human needs – food, an income, shelter, etc to provide for ourselves and – quite possibly – our families. Now, I am not saying that we should sit on the sidelines and do nothing to “change the tide” in the advertising industry; I am merely pointing out the realities that these corporations face in having to meet certain quotas of sold products. Thus, we should first focus on society’s perception of women (and even men) in advertising to lift some pressure off of the advertisers, allowing them to “flip the script,” so to speak. However, I wanted to mention that a few large-name brands have embraced this progressive movement, such as Nike (with its campaign to highlight real women) and – as Olivia mentioned- Aerie. Met with criticism, these corporations continue to push a message of positivity for women (and men) across the world and will hopefully prove to be pioneers in this movement. Many advertisers will not adopt such a progressive stance as Nike and Aerie have, but that’s okay. After slowly peeling back society’s preconceived notions of women in advertisements, the industry will be more open to abandoning the over-sexualized messages.

  13. January 11th, 2018 at 12:14 am       sandraj2 Says:

    After watching this video and reflecting on what surrounds me on a day to day basis, I have come to the conclusion that we all fall into what is around us and it is harder to just avoid it. As the video mentioned, “Commercials not only sells products but also values, images, concepts of love and sexuality, romance and success and what is normal. It tells us who we are and who we should be.” Commercials are viewed by millions of people around the world and although all do not buy the product, but it put the image inside one’s mind and has the power to influence them. From a young age every girl has wanted to be pretty and that continues till death. Society has made ‘normal’ for a women to go to extreme lengths to achieve this ‘beauty’ but failure in inevitable because “absolute flawlessness never has any lines or wrinkles, no scars or blemishes and no pores.” The video mentions how women are advertised for one part of their bodies and that is a way of dehumanizing them as just there for show. Women today even go to the lengths to get plastic surgery to ‘fix’ their imperfections and confine to ‘normalcy.’ Even in our own hallways, there are girls who wear tops to show off their breasts or cropped tops that highlight their size 0 waists. Even brands for both boys and girls are needed to be wore to feel acceptable among your own friends. The word normal has been for long twisted and pulled to what is popular during that time and whoever do not follow the leader, is left behind or outcasted. Jean Kilbourne satirizes advertisements that compare perfect body image to being loved by your husband, being more happy and more successful. The ads adds to the attitudes of both men and women, keeping us away from living lives with free choices.

  14. January 11th, 2018 at 12:28 am       jennifere1 Says:

    Advertisement is a multibillion dollar industry with experts of seemingly insignificant things working together to create the perfect advertisement. And while some ads seem to have missed a critical screening process (for example, the recent H&M sweatshirt outrage), the frequency with which certain features appear in advertisements suggests their correlation with success. For example, many car ads have similar music with similar sounding voice overs, presenting their cars in similar ways. And while the occasional company will try to attract attention with a “daring” ad, the formulaic nature of ads suggest that there is a proven link between these kinds of ads and higher sales revenue. Similarly, the prevalence of oversexualization in advertising suggests the same link. There must be a reason so many companies use similar looking models and present them in similar ways. The advertising business is a business that exists to make a profit. If there has been a proven link between hypersexualized images and profits, it is unreasonable to expect only one facet of society to stand unyielding to the pressures of capitalism. While the “mass media” is an easy faceless behemoth upon which humanity can pin its shortcomings, in reality, the media is simply a responsive entity. The way in which women are treated in advertising is not necessarily reflective of the advertiser’s views. Instead, it is reflective of their market audience’s views. The advertisement industry should not be held to a unique moral standard – it is exists to sell product, not to reshape the mentality of the world.

    • January 11th, 2018 at 12:48 am       roryh2 Says:

      Jen, I find your argument very interesting. I completely agree that women are unfortunately sexualized because there is a demand for it. While I agree that the advertising industry, like all other industries in a capitalist society, exists to make a profit, I think that companies do have some responsibility to the public. If they’re able to reinforce gender stereotypes, don’t they also have the ability to, if not reshape, guide public opinion? I think companies have the ability to be profitable without utilizing ads that egregiously reinforce stereotypes.

  15. January 11th, 2018 at 12:34 am       roryh2 Says:

    I, along with many others, considered myself immune to advertisements. After all, I usually watch Netflix where there are no ads, and sure, I see ads in magazines, but I never end up purchasing items from the company. I was shocked by the statistic that the average American is exposed to over 3,000 ads a day. However, the way in which companies advertise their product is evolving. When I began thinking about where I see ads, I realized just how many I see on social media every day. Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat all have sponsored posts, and companies pay celebrities to post photos with their products. “Instagram models” promote weight-loss tea and teeth whitening kits. These models, who have millions of followers and represent the conventional beauty standard, promote products that are supposed to help the viewer achieve the same level of beauty. These ads are incredibly misleading for a multitude of reasons. The celebrity may not even use the product. Also, simply using the product will not make one look like the model promoting it. A model’s job is to maintain this standard of beauty by working out daily and having a strict diet, something that the average viewer often doesn’t have time for. Although we claim to be unaffected by advertisements, companies are utilizing social media to influence the public, specifically young people.

    • January 11th, 2018 at 1:14 am       ericcheng Says:

      Rory, I agree with how you pointed out “the celebrity may not even use the product”. As that happens in many cases with teenagers now because of the large presence of sponsorships on YouTube, which is relevant. YouTubers and other social media influencers don’t need to be using the product, but as long as they mention it and say how great it is, there will be a large crowd of people purchasing the product.

    • January 11th, 2018 at 2:05 am       kriship1 Says:

      Rory, I also agree with how celebrities might not even use the products they promote. When celebrities endorse products it seems they become official reputed reviewers of that products. We assume they know what it is and how it works and if it works, but half the time some of the people aren’t remotely qualified to review and analyze certain marketing products. In a way I think its what makes a celebrity a celebrity. They advertise something you like and instantly their approval becomes something you are attracted to.

  16. January 11th, 2018 at 12:40 am       lindseya4 Says:

    When wondering if I considered myself “immune” to advertisements, I immediately recalled watching the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show year after year wishing I could look like the girls strutting across the runway. While the fashion show is intended to advertise Victoria’s Secret clothing, the models are adorned with such large wings that the articles they’re supposed to be advertising are virtually invisible. Though, this is not the most disturbing part. The models are regarded with a sense of divinity because they are referred to as “angels”. The company sends the message that simply because these women satisfy the “tall and beautiful” stereotype, they are closer to god. Victoria’s Secret not only degrades regular women, but also suggests that in order to be in touch with one’s faith and therefore closer to god, a women must satisfy the model archetype. The women are sexualized to the point where the symbolism of the angel becomes paradoxical. Instead of serving as a symbol of god’s good works, the Victoria’s Secret angels take on the role of the devil, telling women that in order to fit in, they must fit the stereotype to have a chance at success. Victoria’s Secret is not the only offender, but the most prominent in my opinion.

    • January 11th, 2018 at 1:26 am       joannes2 Says:

      Lindsey, that is interesting. Although I was aware of the angels, I never considered the religious implications (probably because of the company’s far deviation from religious content). But considering the economics of VS, the angel symbolism suggests that buying their product is a service to God. Angels watch over the sales, guiding individuals in their purchases- it’s a twisted message.

      • January 11th, 2018 at 2:03 am       priscillam2 Says:

        Wow Lindsey, you have a very powerful and distinct opinion on this topic. I admire how you compared the Victoria Secret angels to devils, because I had never thought of them that way; as the opposite of what they’re supposed to be portraying. Making this comparison to how they’re literally seen as god-like, it is embedded in our heads at such a young age that that’s the ideal figure. Very different, yet bold approach.

  17. January 11th, 2018 at 12:49 am       ericcheng Says:

    After watching the video I have realized that I am guilty of saying “I am immune to advertisements” when in reality I am not. I always tell myself I don’t need to buy another pair of sneakers, but I always end up buying new pairs anyways even when I don’t need them. It may not be the commercial that’s directly influencing my decision to buy shoes and clothes, but social media posts that display my favorite celebrities and social influences copping the new pair. It’s bandwagoning as everyone wants to be caught up with the latest style. Also with the modern generation having heavy use of social media, our online history can be traced from the roots. Advertisements we see on Instagram, FaceBook, and Twitter are commercials for products that we search for on Safari and Chrome on our phones, so it is interesting how much power advertising companies have over our privacy. The commercials on my feed are sneakers of StockX and GOAT because I always read shoe blogs on my phone. Even when we want to escape from advertisements, they will always be part of our daily life. Advertisements are a multi-billion dollar industry and they will only continue to grow with spending more money to hire smarter employees that will know how to appeal to its consumers.

    • January 11th, 2018 at 2:05 am       priscillam2 Says:

      I completely agree Eric. I don’t watch TV often, nor do I read magazines ever. But I think that we’re all affected by the ads all over social media. We are a generation that lives on our phones and it’s nearly impossible to be “immune to advertisements”. Great point!

    • January 11th, 2018 at 11:30 pm       ianz Says:

      I thought it was interesting how you argued that we cannot “escape” ads. I completely agree. Ads have become the underpinning of many things we love. They keep youtube, Google, Instagram, and many other services we love profitable. Although we may hate ads and what they do. We can never fully get away from them.

  18. January 11th, 2018 at 12:56 am       joannes2 Says:

    Because of technology’s progression and prominence, we cannot avoid advertisements. The internet’s algorithms know our interests, selecting the most appropriate ads for its audience. Although the process is invasive and alarming, companies profit- so the practice continues. But when these ads are so suggestive, it is dangerous- especially when they are fitted for us, as they are even more convincing.
    Advertising companies can get away with a surprising amount. In 2010 an ad for Pretzel Crisps surfaced- a stack of pretzels hovering over an absurd quote- “You can never be too thin.” Ironically, a food company is body shaming, attempting to make it a “guilt-free” snack. But why should we ever feel guilty for eating? In response, there was only “some local resistance,” despite its evidently damaging claim. Pretzel Crisps responded, arguing that it was a “misinterpretation” because “no extra thin, scantily clad female models” were there. Even when people do react to these ads, companies still attempt to deceive the public- but we know their secret. Still these advertisers do not care: Pretzel Crisps edited the ad to read “tastes as good as skinny feels.” The company’s blatant disregard for people is troubling: it does not consider the effects of its message, only the sales of its product. They teach us that there is one way to look- and in doing so, the cycle of self-hate continues; they teach children to reject before they can embrace. Advertisers have power- and although they only reinforce society’s restrictive ideals, they perpetuate the problem; they exploit society’s wrongs.


  19. January 11th, 2018 at 1:10 am       michaelam Says:

    Often we like to think that we are unaffected by advertisements, but it is clear that advertisements take advantage of our insecurities, promoting images according to societal standards. There are so many young women who see advertisements or social media with thin, tall women with beautiful hair and skin and compare themselves to them. Advertisements easily take advantage of their vulnerabilities and make a profit off of it. As suggested in Kilbourne’s video with the advertisement: “the more you subtract, the more you add”, women are pressured to lose weight to achieve the “ideal” body shape to a point where it’s unhealthy; it is horrifying. What is even more horrifying is that women criticize themselves for not matching this image. I know I am guilty of this as well. For years I have struggled with cystic acne that could only be cured with an intensive, government regulated medication. However, my dermatologist never approved it until after my face was covered in scars, which damaged my self-esteem a lot. I remember reading magazines and watching commercials with women having completely clear skin and asking myself why couldn’t I have such clear skin like them? I was upset that I couldn’t have nice skin, but I was even more upset that I was upset over it, if that makes sense. I found an old advertisement online for Proactiv asking “Got acne? Just ask your boyfriend what to do. Oh, that’s right, you don’t have a boyfriend”, which I viewed as highly offensive. Although I read it after I got off the medication, it still angers me that so many other young women are targeted for their imperfections; it never stops. Whether it be an advertisement for skin, hair, height, or weight, advertisements will find a way to put down women in order for them to gain a profit because they know they will buy their products.

    • January 11th, 2018 at 1:32 am       caseym2 Says:

      I totally get this! The feelings of “guilt” for caring about advertisements are really relatable. People wish to be above the standards but on our truest form we are all susceptible to feel a certain way about the current images of beauty.

    • January 11th, 2018 at 2:19 am       ansat2 Says:

      I completely agree with you Michaela. I have also been “guilty” of this ideology. Advertisements make us want to be “fit” and confide in other’s body as ours. By doing so, we take away our true selves for what’s on a piece of paper. It’s sad that this has affected many girl’s self esteem, and companies should acknowledge the negative drawbacks of such advertisements. I loved your story by the way, very relatable.

    • January 11th, 2018 at 3:25 am       sophiap3 Says:

      Michaela, I really like how you wrote about the feeling of guilt that this advertising does to women, and you really capture the major, life-long affects of these subliminal messages constantly being thrown our way.

  20. January 11th, 2018 at 1:23 am       dianag2 Says:

    I think, after all we have talked about and seen in class, that it is safe to say that, unfortunately, women are strongly sexualized in ads. After watching the video I was shocked by how important and influential ads are on humans in society, but we cannot stop this discussion at women. Now, I am not saying that how men are portrayed in ads is equivalent to how women are portrayed; however, both ads hold improbable standards for both genders. Advertisements for women are clearly more dehumanizing and negative than advertisements for men, but men too are molded in ads. Like the ads we looked at in class, most male advertisements involved hands-on and worldly aspects, implying that they will grow up and live to explore and learn. In ads for little boys’ bedrooms there were books like the encyclopedia laying open on the floor, as if a 5 year old boy was closely reading it. Yes, the standards that men are held to are much better and more positive than women’s standards, but men are still portrayed as highly intelligent, strong, determined, and fearless individuals, which is a huge role to take on and not one that many men can fit perfectly.

    • January 11th, 2018 at 2:16 am       Siegler Says:

      While I fit that mold perfectly (haha jk), many men don’t. I agree with what you say, as all forms of advertising make men and women out to be a certain way. However, I’m not sure that this can be entirely avoided. Going on what you said about what can be seen in boys’ bedrooms in ads, how would you suggest the ads are portrayed instead? To an extent, exploiting gender roles in advertising is unavoidable because marketers need to sell, and they must make a choice in their ads between showing a male or a female. Would you show a boy with a bedazzling kit? Probably not because boys are not as interested in it as girls are. While I agree that to a certain point, advertisers shape the way the genders grow up and dictate what is expected of them, I also believe that it is somewhat unavoidable for them to do so.

  21. January 11th, 2018 at 1:29 am       caseym2 Says:

    I found this clip very interesting because of the way Jean Kilbourne tells her perspective on advertising and how it diminishes the female existence. She initially discusses the impact that advertising has on the individuals who view them and the product that is being advertised. Kilbourne notes the significance of ads in our society, specifically the way they portray women. First, women were placed with gorgeous objects, such as clothes and purfume. Then, heavy makeups and lighting techniques were implemented to inhance the beauty of the models to make them more ideal and pleasing to the viewer. Women were treated like the things they were representing- dehumanizing the women to suit society’s image obsession. As editing became more common women were taken apart and replaced with better, inhanced versions of themselves which defeats the whole reason they were chosen to represent a product. Even today these women arent with the products they model women are becoming the products. They are shaped into bottles, bent into shoe shapes and painted into lipstick cans in every Vogue or Cosmo across the nation. People are changing women to be better but when will the chosen women be enough. Our future is rapidly approaching and technological developments are daily occurances, what will be next for the models? What will be next for our society? To imagine what the future would be like for my future daughter or son is frightening. The pressures placed on beauty and image are increasing at such exponential rates that who knows what will happen to our children’s image of themselves and image of beauty.

    • January 11th, 2018 at 1:37 am       amandag3 Says:

      Casey, I completely agree with you. It was startling to see how advertising changes the view of women for the sake of making money. Industries will do whatever it takes to advance their products, so if that means compromising the health and natural beauty women possess, then they will do it. It’s so scary to see how women are morphed, as you mentioned, because they are completely dehumanized. I agree wholeheartedly that the future is scary for our children and hope society will move in a better direction of embracing natural beauty and encouraging healthy lifestyles.

  22. January 11th, 2018 at 1:50 am       amandag3 Says:

    Unfortunately, women are completely dehumanized in advertising. In some cases, men are too, but based on our class activities this week and the video clip, it is clear that women face more issues in the advertising industry. Women are sexualized, dehumanized, and held to such unrealistic standards that the psychological impact on young girls and women is becoming more and more disastrous every day. I see a direct correlation with how women are portrayed and how they act. More women are self-harming every day. Why? Women are surrounded by advertisements that hold them to false health and beauty standards. No one actually looks like the Victoria’s Secret Angels, let’s face it. Not even the Victoria’s Secret Angels on their off days. Women are dehumanized, especially in the modeling industry, because their bodies are airbrushed, shrunk, and completely photoshopped to look as perfect as possible. And every woman becomes a victim at some point or another. I will readily admit that I’ve looked at an ad and said “why don’t I look like her?” But my next question is always “how does anyone look like her?” This is because women are molded into these fake images that encourage them to be the smallest size possible with the most perfect features possible. Our values are shaped by what we see around us. It should come as no surprise that when ads featuring size double zero models increase, there is an increase in eating disorders in young girls. Girls are taught that “smaller is better,” and not only is that unhealthy to their bodies, but it is unhealthy to their souls. Although this issue has become more prevalent over the years, nothing has really changed all that much. Women are still dehumanized and sexualized by advertisements, and they are held to extremely unrealistic standards that encourage unhealthy behaviors.

  23. January 11th, 2018 at 1:52 am       kriship1 Says:

    After watching the video on women’s advertising, I was recollecting any memory of seeing these ads anywhere. Even though I didn’t pay attention to the ads at all, I seem to believe that they were normal regardless of how different they were. Kilbourne mentioned that the average person sees 3,000 ads per day but how many seem to notice and remember every single one? Kilbourne mentioned how commercials don’t only sell products but images and values. Slowly they have integrated a way of thing that promotes people to buy according to their goods. We have fallen “immune” to their advertising and fail to see a difference in women figures. We hear about change everywhere and women and men reacting to change. However, on a subconscious level men still align with the provocative ads of women. The shaming of women and their body types are not as primary concerns for men as they are for women.It doesn’t degrade their image. Even degrading images of men ads are not as degrading because unlike men ads, women’ ads often contain them acting in sexual ways. If men had ads where they look like the submissive figure as some women ads do like the Juicy ad in class, men might understand the shaming and understand the degradation of women

  24. January 11th, 2018 at 1:59 am       priscillam2 Says:

    I do believe that ads are subliminally informing our values and our ideas of normalcy. Although many may not believe or realize it within themselves, I think that many of us aren’t “immune to advertisements”. Personally; however, I don’t watch TV too often, so for me I’m not affected as much by the TV commercials or ads in magazines, but I am through social media. Whether it’s a sponsored ad on Instagram with Demi Lovato sponsoring Fabletics sports apparel, or any random ad for a face moisturizer, a tea detox to lose weight, whitening strips, the ads do affect what I buy, as the case with many people. What I found particularly disturbing; however, was the statistic that 1 out of 5 women in America have an eating disorder, and those are only the diagnosed ones. She continues by saying that a major issue is that most women either don’t realize they have an eating disorder, or don’t treat it. She then clarifies that that statistic is closer to 4 out of 5 when including both diagnosed and undiagnosed forms of eating disorders. It amazes me that with such a large percentage of women with eating disorders, that there aren’t more public programs to help this problem that’s only growing. It’s truly sickening how some of these ads portray women, but because it’s been continuing in this manner for so long, many companies keep on displaying these ads, for their biggest concern is the financial aspect of their business. I think that this preconception of companies portraying women the way they do is something that although awful and demeaning, will never truly fade because corporations only care about one thing; how their business is doing financially. Only once a significant decline in their sales occurs, will they maybe change their ads, but unfortunately this problem will live on until they do so.

  25. January 11th, 2018 at 2:06 am       Siegler Says:

    I absolutely agree that ads are informing our values and our ideas of normalcy, however I do not think it is subliminal. Ads outright project an image of women that is unnatural and not normal, making women and girls think that they should only look one particular way. Women in ads are typically portrayed as underweight. This makes females everywhere feel as though that is the true image of beauty. It has an effect on males too, which contributes to the way women feel as though they need to make themselves look. These skinny and unhealthy women are shown as the example of beautiful, and young boys grow up with this image in front of them the whole time. The video we watched was made in 1999, and the ads do not look any different than they do now in 2018. As a male born in 2000, I can say honestly that the images of beauty displayed in advertising affected what my idea of what a “pretty” woman is. This does not mean, however, that I would not date someone who looks different than the women seen in advertisements, and this goes for most other males as well. While I and many other males do not value looks over all else, the advertisers attempt to make women think that looks are all that men care about. This is very far from true, though. While advertisements and media make men out to be shallow and only care about how a woman looks, they are wrong. Virtually all males, I would say, care more about the personality of a woman than they do anything else, but of course the media and advertisements to not display this fact, making women feel as though they need to be skinny to be wanted. The whole premise is a horrible vicious circle, and it gives every person on earth a flawed image of everybody else. (Also sorry if I’m a minute or two after 9 PM, had to work until 8 and then my mom made me go out and get dinner lol)

  26. January 11th, 2018 at 2:12 am       ansat2 Says:

    In today’s culture, advertising is one of the most profound forms of media. Advertisements are everywhere: in the library, the internet, the grocery stores, etc. However, many people-particularly teenage girls-deviate their attention to what’s depicted on magazines, than what’s in front of the mirror. Instead of seeing themselves for who they are, they see flaws, imperfections, scars, etc. Why you may ask? Because celebrities and models paint themselves to be ‘perfect’ by having a size zero waist and the right curves in the right places. But not everyone is “perfect”, and painting an idealistic picture of one’s physique is not right. In Jean’s speech, the quote “The more you subtract, the more you add” stuck with me. Personally, I am disgusted by this quote. First of all, it depreciates the value of
    a woman. It makes our bodies seem like an object, implying that we are not human, but inanimate people who must depend on a number to define us. Second of all, it is written on a magazine. This is such a horrible thing to have published, as it is literally seen by the entire public. It makes those who see it, particularly young women, to not love themselves, but love the woman in the advertisement; and most of the time, those in the advertisements do not love what they are depicting. However, it is their job, and what makes money, is that “perfect” body. Unfortunately, this business is so popular, it has led girls in schools to change themselves, and mimic those in the advertisements. In the end of the day, advertisements are powerful, and should be used to create the right mindset for the younger generation. Advertisements should promote self love and motivation, rather than the notion to be ‘skinny.’ Advertising not only sells copies, but it sells individuality.

  27. January 11th, 2018 at 3:22 am       sophiap3 Says:

    Today’s culture plays an unwinnable game of heads or tails, especially in the industry of female beauty and fashion. These digs at any woman who is not deemed “perfect”, by society’s standards, are so subtle and subliminal, that missing them becomes easy when watching TV, reading a magazine, or viewing any social media. The industry has become so good at hiding the double standard and portraying only one example of beauty for women that men and women miss them and fall for their tricks. I do agree that our society has become “immune to advertisements”, however I do not know just how involuntary it was. I believe that, through years of fighting by women, to be portrayed in different ways and not just have one standard of beauty, society has consciously gone around the obvious and clear double standard. The beauty industry now hides their standards in subliminal messages to their viewers and customers, and people have surely fell for it. Despite the progress that has, undoubtedly, been achieved when portraying female beauty in its many different forms, complete inclusion and elimination of all barriers to beauty has not.

  28. January 11th, 2018 at 3:36 am       jamesc7 Says:

    I think this is a very astute analysis of the effect ads do end up having on Americans. We think we’ve come far on gender issues, and we have. Women have all the same rights as men on paper, all though it could be argued that there is bias on the part of some men. Women can vote, they can work, and they have even been allowed to register for the draft. This shows that our culture has brought women up significantly in terms of respect for them.

    Isn’t it odd that our ads don’t reflect that? Sexualizing women in ads, or reducing them to one part of their body has consequences on men and women. Women begin to have an unwavering desire to look like the people in the magazines, (who, by the way, are all photoshopped? and men have an unwavering desire for women that look like the women in the magazines. This makes it harder for people to get over their expectations and desires, and come to to terms with their imperfections.

    One part of the video that struck me was when Jean Kilbourne stated that 1 in 5 girls have eating disorders. Never did I think it was close to that high. That means 20 percent of girls are so uncomfortable in their own skin that they feel a need to starve themselves. Is it fair to put some of the blame on ads that portray skinny women as the norm and the body type to strive for. I think so.

  29. January 11th, 2018 at 11:25 pm       ianz Says:

    The part of the video that struck me as most interesting was when she pointed out that the advertisements may not even be marketing what the consumer really wants. The advertising firm’s job is to sell a product and not to design or create the product. Kilbourne made it clear when describing one of the beauty ads that the model did not even have pores. While this may seem outrageous when discussed, the ad was modified to look a certain way. Does the buyer really not want to have pores at all? And is that what the company is selling? Here arises the problem of false advertising and it’s issues. The ad with the women without pores is unattainable to anyone. Even that model has pores, they have just been edited out. This same dilemma is apparent in the over sexualized ads as well. A shirt or pants, while they may instill confidence or elegance, will never change you as a person. The advertisements take advantage of your longing for betterment in ads. Not only are ads degrading females slowing down equal rights, they are blatant lies forcing the consumer to think a certain way.

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