Models: The Commercialization Of Gender Ideals

Most of the time, the model they are presenting is retouched in all of the parts that are believed to be flawed. What was then a real person becomes nothing but an imaginary creation, produced to make us crave to achieve that kind of perfection by buying that product. One could argue that the models themselves, rather than the magazines, want their pictures to be retouched in order to look flawless.

In fact, as Nicole Hunter (2011) explains, modifying pictures is a popular technique since the 20th century when celebrities asked for it to adjust their imperfections. However, Hunter notices, now digital editing is a widespread practice used not only to fix a couple of flaws but to change entire bodies in order to instil a sense of inferiority into whoever is watching the image. This procedure discourages every female that acknowledges being unable to reach the ideal beauty and, nevertheless, still purchases those products to feel accepted by society.

Women are thus constantly trying to reach an ideal that is not human but digitally created. Furthermore, models that are represented as perfect and flawless in advertising campaigns are then judged on a standard that is impossible to recreate. Being unable to meet the expectations those models are often mocked. Through the commercialization of gender ideals, women feel forced to live up to the expectations, measuring themselves to models that are not just unachievable but also unrealistic. Women compare their bodies and, at the same time, are compared by the rest of the world to these standards according to which they are considered acceptable or not for society's concept of beauty (Lelwica, 1999).

It is through the insecurities that derive from seeing a characteristic that is generally judged as beautiful and that we would all wish to have, that the market sells products. Figure 1 is an example of the commercialization of gender ideals. The advertisement plays on females' insecurities and eagerness to become flawless by representing a gorgeous woman to whom every girl would wish to resemble. In front of it, most women feel vulnerable because they are conscious that that kind of beauty is unattainable for them and compared to it they feel worthless. Nevertheless, in the hope to feel better with themselves and with society, they buy the product. Figure 1: Max factor advertising campaign for a colour correcting cream (Max factor, 2013)

The question now is, how can we stop the commercialization of gender ideals and make women feel comfortable with themselves, without the pressure of meeting an imaginary standard? The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty is trying to make a difference by representing, instead of girls generally considered perfect and photo-edited, everyday women that felt excluded from the usual beauty standards and underrepresented. This campaign aims at encouraging women to feel confident in their bodies and to consider themselves beautiful just the way they are (Goins, 2016).

There should be no ideal to which one has to conform. Whenever a standard is raised, women are driven to feel unworthy and insecure about their appearance. Compared to women, men are less subjected to society's gender ideal. Therefore men don't feel the pressure of being constantly compared to a standard and of measuring up to it. On the other hand, women face every day other people's judgment, as much as their own. The commercialization of gender ideals as provided an unreachable standard on which women's value is estimated and considered either acceptable or unworthy, and hence should be arrested.

03 December 2019
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