24 April 2015
Our daily lives are touched with hundreds of images. It is difficult to know which ones are real life and which ones have been altered. Research has shown that cosmetic advertisements have a harmful effect on the way women view themselves. Three out of four women’s magazine covers include one or more article titles related to modifying a woman’s body by diet, exercise, or cosmetic surgery. The fact that personal appearance has a substantial effect on the way an individual is regarded and treated by others is an awareness that has crept into daily behavior. Advertising has made us acutely aware of these concerns by encouraging the public to worry about signs of aging or making themselves more attractive to the opposite sex. Are cosmetic advertisements detrimental to women? When Frederique van der Wal, a former Victoria's Secret model, attended New York's Fashion Week, she was stunned by the models that strutted down the catwalk. They seemed even skinnier than previous years. "This unnatural thinness is a terrible message to send out. The people watching the fashion shows are young, impressionable women," says van der Wal, host of Cover Shot on TLC (qtd in Hellmich par 4). Psychologists and experts on eating disorders are worried about the same thing. They say the fashion industry has gone too far in pushing a dangerously thin image that women, and even very young girls, may try to recreate (Hellmich par 4). "We know seeing super-thin models can play a role in causing anorexia," says Nada Stotland, professor of psychiatry at Rush Medical College in Chicago and vice president of the American Psychiatric Association (Oakes par 2). Anorexia and other eating disorders are health risks. Eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia can lead to osteoporosis, liver disease, and in some cases, death. Approximately two percent of Americans suffer from an eating disorder. That is a significant number of people considering there are three hundred million Americans. Thanks to advertisements, young women get the impression that being skinnier is sexier and their efforts to to become thinner result in eating disorders. The portrayal of women in advertisements negatively influences the body image of women and has led to an increase in the number of plastic surgeries. According to a new report by the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons, there has been a 153 percent increase in the number of cosmetic procedures performed by plastic surgeons since 1992, in fact more than one million procedures were performed last year. That number is considered conservative, since it excludes specialists who are not certified, such as dermatologists, dentists, and even gynecologists (Kalb par 5). A shocking new time-lapse video has demonstrated just how dramatically a woman's body can be transformed by digital retouching. The short clip, shows a relatively average-looking young woman turned into a bombshell glamour model with the help of a hair and make-up artist and of course, Photoshop. The video begins with a shot of the natural-looking woman in just a red bikini bottom - lying on her stomach, leaning on her forearms with her legs raised and crossed behind her. After the makeup artist and hair stylist work their magic, the video goes on to speed through digital enhancements to the model's face and body. In the click of a mouse, the model's complexion is smoothed and given a doll-like sheen. Her eyes are made wider, her nose slimmer and her lips fuller. The finished photo reveals a model that bears absolutely no resemblance to the woman who posed for the photographer. The video adds fuel to the ongoing debate surrounding airbrushed models and how they can set unrealistic examples to impressionable young girls (Abraham par 3).
The cosmetic industry focuses not only on women with unrealistic weights, but also on making women appear younger. Today’s women of