Monday, April 09, 2007

Corporate Irresponsibility and the Abuse of Women in the Media

Following on from my thoughts on the Dove Advertising campaign I came across some video previews today that look in more detail at just how the media is negatively using images of women. The full DVDs are about $20 or a lot more if used for public presentation where they are targeted as educational packages for schools and colleges in the USA. However I think these two previews are in themselves pretty powerful.

Both these videos are short (5-6 minute) well illustrates talks by Jean Kilbourne - and if you would like to see more details of the videos and previews on other topics please visit the web site of the Media Education Foundation.

Slim Hopes: Advertising & the Obsession With Thinness

This first video provides some startling facts about the way the media undermines self esteem in young women. For example did you know that 80% of 10 year old girls on on a diet, that 20% of mostly young women have serious eating disorders, that the Tobacco industry needs to recruit 3000 children in the USA every day to replace the people who die or quit smoking, that 60% of smokers started before 14 (the largest proportion being women).

What is the connection between being slim and smoking - you got it - smoking helps you to keep slim. Virtually all cigarette advertising in the USA includes the word Slim or features slim women. Fortunately in Europe as in much of the rest of the world Cigarette advertising has been banned, but this also shows just how big a stranglehold US corporations have and the level or corporate irresponsibility that exists

Killing Us Softly 3: Advertising's Image of Women

This video introduces the general issue of how women are portrayed in the media and the impact that has on our lives. It's worth remembering that virtually all advertising involves women. About 80% of all consumer purchases are made by women so as a result most advertising is targeted at women buyers often presenting messages promising us the chance to look like the model (super slim, young and sexy) if we buy the product. Where women are not the target, they become the subject of the advertising in order to attract male attention. It's the "Buy this product and you could pull women like this" theme - which also continue to present images of unattainable beauty (see the Dove Evolution of Beauty video yesterday).

So What can we do about it

Showing a problem is of no value without a solution. We can campaign against these images - and the British government took action to stop fashion houses using models who were too slim last year taking the lead from the Milan Fashion Show. Dove is leading the way in using images of normal women and older women in place of the photoshop enhanced plastic women.

That gives us an indication of what we can do. Advertising and the media generally present images and views of normalcy - a normalcy that largely is a myth. In promoting our business we can choose to present more realistic images. We can stop using women as sex images to attract male custom; we can treat women with respect in advertising; we can break stereotypes in our advertising; we can present our products and services in the context of reality.

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1 comment:

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