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False Image, Real Effect

In: Social Issues

Submitted By so630
Words 2369
Pages 10
Prof. Brown
Engl. 101
Research Paper
False Image, Real Effect
Advertisements do not always present the truth but people can still choose to accept it as truth. Advertisers have always stretched the truth in order to sell a product. Advertisements present everything as an extravagant, over the top, perfect for all, necessity. Throughout time, new techniques for advertisements have developed. Because of technological advancements there are more ways to advertise as well. Before, news and anything good would have been spread through word of mouth. Now, there are voices coming through radio stations telling people what they want and need. Advertisement pictures and videos are constantly being played on the television screens, cellphones and almost any other electronic gadget. Advertisers still manage to stretch the truth, now in more creative ways.
Advertisements, especially print, are photo-enhancing and distorting images to create a false image. Photographs of human beings, taken to help sell a product, are now being altered and becoming the product. There are many studies that have been conducted on the effects of these altered images, however a majority of these studies revolve around the female body. Targeting men with other men on advertisements is something that has spread widely and effected men's body image. Advertisements give a false image of how men and women should look; these advertisements need to reduce or label the level of retouching or possibly stop retouching photographs all together.

Just as with women, photos of men are changed so that they meet the unrealistic image that has been made idealized by advertisements. As with the images of women, the images of men in advertisements are thinner than the average male. However, the images targeting men contain a high amount of muscle. The images used in advertisements affirm the idea that a man must be lean, have six-pack abs, muscular arms and a cut body overall. More men than ever before, are now experiences body dissatisfaction. Similarly to women, men are pushed into accepting and transforming into the acceptable male image presented in advertisements. Psychology professor Deborah Belle from Boston University and Researcher Ida Jodette Hatoum, in their artcle, "Mags and Abs: Media Consumption and Bodily Concerns in Men", reveal that normal and underweight men want to gain weight, whereas, those overweight wanted to lose weight. Unlike with women where there is only the idea to loose weight and be considered slim, men are faced with the pressure of not being large enough along with loosing weight, Because men are concerned with both loosing and gaining weight there is a growing connection with behaviors such as, dieting, exercising, and the use of beauty products within men. Researcher Crysral M Bonneou-Kaya and psychology professor Frederick G. Grieve from Western Kentucky University, in their journal, "Weight Loss and Muscle Building Content in Popular Magazines Oriented Toward Women and Men", develop their claim by first verifying that there is a difference between weight loss and muscle building in men's versus women's magazines. They then add that although there has been a slight decrease in muscle gain content in men's magazines, there is still pressure to obtain and maintain a muscular body. Although the advertisement content targets men and women differently the pressure to embody the ideal image is still very much alive. Because male's body shape dissatisfaction is a new phenomenon there is still an increasing pressure on men to achieve a certain body shape. Men now have a mass amount of images to evaluate themselves against, just as women have had in the past. Due to advertisements that have published images of the ideal body, men, like women, are pushed into one single ideal body size and shape, making them more likely to experience body dissatisfaction.

Advertisements support and provide examples of the ideal image for men. World known former English soccer player and icon, David Beckham has collaborated with H&M to create a clothing line. The collection is called, David Beckham BodyWear, which consists of basic clothing pieces and underwear. The advertisement images for this line are mostly of him in some to one piece of clothing. The photographs for this years campaign are in black and white, allowing for a more defined structure of body and face. In one of the shots, David Beckham is wearing only underwear and is exposing his athletic body. He is posing with his upper body twisted toward the camera, stretching his abdomen and causing more definition. Lights have also been strategically placed to illuminate and cast shadows in desired areas of enhancement. "The media [is] considered powerful communicators of body ideals due to their accessibility. popularity, and pervasiveness" (Bair and Grieve 116). Because advertisements are everywhere and always around they have become a great part of everyday life. People acknowledge what advertisements say or show more than they should. Because David Beckham is one of the world's biggest heartthrobs, women give more attention to his men's clothing campaign than actual men. Men are able to notice that women are attracted to David Beckham. This gives men the perception that they must look muscular, lean and possibly grow a beard. Using a celebrity endorsement or having one become the face of a certain product is nothing new to advertisement. Advertisers know that people will react to such tactics, even more so when there are changes made in order to create a person more appealing to all. Men believe and advertisement effectiveness proves that women will swoon over a man with god-like abs, chiseled jaw, and flawless structure. The advertisements create attention by using celebrities and making them appear lean and muscular, making a need for men to resemble the images.

There are plenty of people who understand that the images presented in advertisements are not real. That the images published have been changed to appear desirable and ensure attention. A majority of these individuals are adults. Yet, young adults still feel a need to embrace the ideal body and teens believe that the images are real, along with viewing the body image as an adequate goal. There are also other people who may consider the published images as art, along with the alterations made to the original. Another set of people may approach the changed images with a positive outlook on its help to fix small flaws. If a picture is worth a thousand words, there are many who would prefer the option to change what they see wrong with themselves. Society is made of the people. As a society, people have chosen to acknowledge the altered images and accept them as a social norm. That is, expecting every and all images to modified, in more than just advertisements. In a world of growing obesity, some people may also see this new ideal image as a motivator for many people to get in shape and live a healthy lifestyle. Although improving people's health is a real goal, some may attempt to fit the image in an unhealthy manner. Advertisements images do not have to have a negative effect, however the constant publications have introduced the idea for an unrealistic image.

Advertisement images give people an illusion of what is admirable and ideal for a male's body image. These images influence men to take dramatic measures in order to achieve the body image desired. "Although images of models are endlessly manipulated and perfected via airbrushing and other techniques, they are presented as realistic and achievable representations of actual people" (Labre 188). Men, as well as women, believe that the spokespeople in advertisements, before and after photographs and other advertisement images are true and honest. They view these images as proof that the image displayed is achievable. People will use the product advertised or try some other ridiculous method to be able to resemble the models. Men will buy and over use body enhancers and supplements to gain more muscle weight to try and fit the criteria for what is portrayed as ideal and attractive. Men are unhappy with their body shape and size, making them vulnerable for quick alternatives in achieving the ideal image. Eating disorders are also a problem for men. They are not only affiliated with women anymore. Men are also going under the knife and getting surgery to enhance their features. That is going through with having jawlines perfected, having the chest built to look muscular with no need for exercise. As well as, 90 day, 60 day and other products advertising a time frame for results. Men can also become obsessed with attending the gym in fear of gaining weight and loosing the idea of being desired. Researcher Christine Elliot from the University of Oxford and researcher Richard Elliot from the University of Warwick, in their article, "Idealized Images of the Male Body in Advertising: A Reader-Response Exploration", discuss how men are being objectified or exploited in advertising. Thus, pushing them towards hyper-masculinity, exaggerated beliefs on what it is to be man. That is, falling into the tall, lean and muscular criteria. These ideas can lead men to extreme measures not affecting themselves but others as well. A man may start a fight in order to prove their manhood. Muscle dysmorphia consists of not believing a person is fit enough. It leads men to extreme work-outs, diets and restricts them to a specific routine. Men are vulnerable beings, despite the fact of them being men. They are easily affected and persuaded into taking ridiculous measures to achieve a desired body image.

It is in people's nature to want to reproduce and natural selection makes some people more than others preferable. But this does not mean that people should loose sight of reality because of the advancements allowing people to be modified in advertisement images. "In today's media, however, the boundaries between fantasy and reality are blurred" (Labre 188). Advertisements can create a false reality, they contain plenty of realistic features that create the illusion that what is published and broadcasted is reality. Because consumers or people, may not always take into consideration the acts of persuasion taking place in advertisements, is it easy to fall victim to the ideal body image. This is important to understand, as it can negatively affect people's lives. Positive attention to altered images in advertisements can make many want to resemble an unrealistic image that was made possible through the use of digital modification, air-brushing, make up and lighting techniques. Providing a label along with an altered image can avoid creating false hopes in men and women. Researchers Eric Kee and Hany Farid from Dartmouth College of New Hampshire, in their article, "A Perceptual Metric for Photo Retouching", describe an assessable and meaningful metric of photo retouching. They then offer photographs that are rated on the degree to which they have been digitally altered using the system they have created. Kee and Farid have found a way to judge how much a photo has been retouched and then provide that information to the public. Because not all people are able to recognize how much an image has been altered, this provides a solution to reducing the amount of photo retouching and opening people's eyes to what is actually being published. However, it is not certain that all advertisers and publishers will agree to incorporate the metric system. Another possible solution is adding a simple watermark or label letting viewers know that an image has been modified. Of course, it would not include a measure of how much but it will inform people just as there is a warning attached with beer and dangerous acts that are published and broadcasted. The ideal solution would be to have advertisers stop altering images. However that is easier said than done. Producers rely on advertisements to create and increase sales. There is no evidence or research done to hypothesize on the outcome of sales and advertisements if photo modifications stopped. Providing information with modified images could reduce the affects of eating disorders and image dissatisfaction in men and women. The images provided by advertisements would not be highly idealized for its unrealistic features.

Advertisements are presenting and influencing a new ideal body image for men, just as with women, leading to extreme and or unhealthy measures. Advertisers need to understand that they are selling more than a specific product to people, but an unrealistic body image as well. Pressure to conform to the images portrayed can lead to developing disorders caused by body dissatisfaction. Advertisements should include a statement of some kind that lets people know that an image has been modified. This could allow for men and women to still be persuaded towards a product while keeping reality in mind. Both men and women are targeted in advertisements, although in different methods used there is a body image ideal pushed. Change need to be done, the altered images are not only affecting adult men and women but children as well.

Work Cited
Baird, Amy L., and Frederick G. Grieve. "Exposure To Male Models In Advertisements
Leads To A Decrease In Men's Body Satisfaction."North American Journal
Of Psychology 8.1 (2006): 115-121. Business Source Complete. Web. 10 Nov. 2014.
Elliott, Richard, and Christine Elliott. "Idealized Images Of The Male Body In Advertising:
A Reader-Response Exploration." Journal Of Marketing Communications 11.1 (2005):
3-19. Business Source Complete. Web. 12 Nov. 2014.
Grieve, Frederick G., and Crystal M. Bonneau-Kaya. "Weight Loss And Muscle Building
Content In Popular Magazines Oriented Toward Women And Men." North American
Journal Of Psychology 9.1 (2007): 97-102. Academic Search Complete. Web. 9
Sept. 2014.
Hatoum, Ida Jodette, and Deborah Belle. "Mags And Abs: Media Consumption And Bodily
Concerns In Men." Sex Roles 51.7/8 (2004): 397-407. Academic Search Complete.
Web. 11 Sept. 2014.
Kee, Eric, and Hany Farid. "A Perceptual Metric For Photo Retouching." Proceedings Of
The National Academy Of Sciences Of The United States Of America 108.50
(2011): 19907-19912. Academic Search Complete. Web. 12 Nov. 2014.
Labre, Magdala Peixoto. "Burn Fat, Build Muscle: A Content Analysis Of Men's Health
And Men's Fitness." International Journal Of Men's Health 4.2 (2005): 187-200.
Academic Search Complete. Web. 11 Sept. 2014.

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