This is the second in a three-part series about women and advertising.
A commercial for the facial-hair cream Vaniqa depicts a woman getting ready in front of the mirror. She spots a facial hair (which is not visible to the naked eye), and looks away with a hopeless, dejected look on her face. As the female narrator says, “When I spot facial hair…”, the woman in the commercial turns to the camera and says, with a male voice, “This is how I feel; manly, unfeminine.” In her own voice, the hopelessly dejected woman states, “Now I don’t even want to go out.” Apparently, facial hair is not only extremely unfeminine, but like any other part or characteristic of women’s bodies, it is tremendously embarrassing and unattractive. The commercial spends another minute and a half describing how Vaniqa can help women overcome their manly traits and feel good about themselves again. The female dermatologist can help: “Women don’t talk about this problem with anyone, but they do talk to me about how powerless and unhappy they feel. I recommend Vaniqa.” The commercial ends with the statement, “free yourself from the constant worry and maintenance of unwanted facial hair.”
The thing is, we all have some sort of body issue, and at times we do feel insecure and unattractive. The point is not that women should not use these products; it is the message that is frustrating. That message is: You are never good enough, and you never will be. Instead, you should feel so intensely bad about yourself that you will use our products.
There are so many products that use the word ‘perfection’ in their advertisements. And if you do not look ‘perfect,’ you need some major help. Advertisements cater to women’s insecurity about their bodies, an insecurity that those ads help maintain by telling us that we are never good enough, and also by how they depict women in these advertisements and the tricks they use to make women look perfect. Now that you know that you are not good enough, you need to take a serious look at your body. Do you have enough eyelashes? Are your teeth white and straight enough? Is your nose just right? Are your eyelids droopy? Is your forehead smooth? Are your lips too thin? Do you have cellulite, wrinkles, crow’s feet, facial hair, gray hair, small or saggy breasts, brittle nails, rough or cracked heels, scars, stretch marks, dark spots, a double chin, blackheads, whiteheads, pimples, embarrassing body odor, ‘feminine’ body odor, cankles, belly fat, or flabby arms? The list goes on and on. Now that you know what is wrong with you, it is time to tackle the issues!
But what if women were not constantly told that they should be embarrassed, that they are unattractive, or that they should hate themselves for the way they look? Is it possible that women could still feel positive about their bodies even though they are not anatomically, physically, or –based on commercial standards — perfect? We are so incredibly tired of the same old and worn-out advertisements that try to first put women down for being unattractive and then try to make them feel better if they purchase their products.