ART BY JOSEPH MENDOZA
By ANA-SOFIA MUÑOZ
If you have ever looked in the mirror and compared yourself to the faces on your favorite store’s Instagram page, you have fallen into the trap that many companies lay out for consumers: to lower potential customers’ self esteem and propose their products as the solution.
More often than not, when we think of figures like Internet makeup moguls or the models for popular clothing companies, a very specific image comes to mind. Typically, these people are prime examples of what society considers conventionally attractive: tall and thin, with pale skin and generally Eurocentric features.
In other words, these kinds of people are the idealized individuals that many wish they could look like.
However, this ideal exists for a purpose beyond just looking pretty; in fact, the model image that so many aspire towards has been carefully crafted as a capitalistic tool intended to sell products and generate profit.
Unsurprisingly, major companies will often stop at nothing to generate revenue—and that includes destroying the self confidence of their customers, even if it may be unintentional. Yet, until these companies change their marketing strategies and include a more diverse range of individuals in their advertising, their customers’ self esteem—especially that of adolescents—will continue to suffer.
Generally, companies use idealized figures in their advertisements time and time again. Although the face and body types that are considered “ideal” may evolve and change over time, they have one crucial aspect in common: they are framed as the most desirable features a person can have.
When presented in this light, consumers may be brought to ask themselves how they can attain the same image. Obviously, the answer is that they cannot; the closest that individuals can get is purchasing the company’s products, in an attempt to look like the figures that are used to present them.
Evidently, this is usually a fairly effective strategy. Unfortunately, there are a number of adverse effects that accompany the often-limited representation within advertising.
In the present age of social media, we are constantly bombarded with a flood of advertisements. In turn, we are simultaneously presented with constant reinforcement of the beauty standards set by companies.
Most notably, these negative effects manifest in the form of various mental health struggles, according to Beauty, Body Image, and the Media by Jennifer S. Mills, Amy Shannon and Jacqueline Hogue.
For example, eating disorders have rapidly become more prevalent with the rise of online advertising and as low self-esteem accompanies depression, people gradually grow more dissatisfied with their own appearances.
Under the proper circumstances, some individuals can even be led to developing obsessive-compulsive disorders like body dysmorphic disorder.
Ultimately, the beauty ideals set by companies are inescapable. Unless they opt to fix their ways, the impact that they have on individuals’ self esteem will continue in a vicious cycle. The only way to subvert the messages that are so commonly perpetuated by large companies is to acknowledge that beauty is diverse, and comes in many unique forms that range far beyond the one specific image that is presented to us.
Although these detrimental marketing strategies may remain largely unchanged, we can make a difference in our own lives by changing our mindsets.