Tag Archives: advertising

Ads, Women and Mental Health

I recently came across this lecture from Jill Kilbourne and wanted to share it with you.  In one of the classes I’ve been teaching we’ve been talking extensively about media’s role in women’s self esteem.  I think it’s so very important to understand with Ms. Kilbourne has to say here.  That we often find ourselves viewing magazines or television ads or billboards, and feeling inadequate because we don’t look like the women in the pictures.  But, hello, even the women in the pictures don’t look like the women in the pictures.  With Photoshop, no woman need ever have flaws.  And I’ve heard through back channels that some actresses have right in their contract that their image on television must be slightly vertically stretched to make them appear taller and thinner.

Couple this with the fact that hardly anyone approaching average size appears on television or in advertising.  The average American woman is a size 12 on the top and a 14 on the bottom.  Most women on television or in advertising are a size 2, 0 or even 00.  To give you a frame of reference, when Cameryn Manheim was on The Practice she was about a size 14 and quite tall.  When I met her in person, I was struck by how average her size looked in real life.  But on TV she seemed pretty large.  Now some say that the camera adds 15 pounds, but I don’t really think that’s what’s at work here.  What is at work here is that she was surrounded by a whole cast of people that were very, very significantly smaller than average.  So by contrast, she seemed bigger.

I sometimes wish I could have a special Photoshop tool or television/video filter that would allow me to make everybody on TV and in ads look a little more average or a little more normal.  I think it would help the rest of us gain some perspective on how other people look.  But when I get really down, I go do a little “field work”.  I go to a mall, or a gym or a public pool, I sit on a bench or in a chair and I just look at people.  I regain my sense of how real people look.  People all looking SO different from one another.  People with tattoos and scars and stretch marks.  People of all different shapes and sizes and colors.  All different kinds of hair in all different places.  Smiles shining out of faces not lit for the cameras, but rather lit from within, from lives well lived.  I regain my perspective.  It really feels great.  Maybe you’d like to try it and report back?  I’d love to hear how it went!


The Fat Chick

Is Exercise Sexy?


The Shake Weight demonstrates the sex/fitness connection, sort of, well not really…

I saw one of those ads for athletic shoes the other day.  You know, one of those ads where a perfectly shaped pert little body, glistening just so with perspiration shows a sexy godess of fitness–and I burst out laughing.  I was giggling because I thought about how different that particular view of fitness is from fitness in my actual, real life.  First of all there is no low mood lighting with special spotlights to highlight the shape of my rear end.  I don’t, as a rule, casually drape a perfectly white fluffy towel over my shoulders.  There’s no semi-pornographic, oom-chicka-mow-mow music playing where I work out.  And there’s nothing that glistens, glows, or gently shines, because girlfriend, I SWEAT. And I think it’s pretty unrealistic that any amount of exercise is gonna make me look like that chick in the advertisement (even if I had the ARMY of stylists and digital re-touchers she’s working with).  So I asked myself, given the huge yawning gulf between the advertising view of fitness and what exercise looks like in my world, is exercise sexy?

Well, I think exercise can be really sexy, but not usually in the way depicted on television.  I think it can be sexy when it’s a kind and wonderful thing that I do for myself.  I don’t think exercise as punishment is particularly sexy (even in a S&M sorta way).  But I think the way that exercise makes me feel, is sexy.  For example:

Improved Self Esteem–Feels Sexy

Stronger Body–Feels Sexy

Better Sleep/Better Rested–Feels Sexy (and more likely to be awake for sex)

Better Stress Management–Feels Sexy (and a lot more in the mood for sex)

And when you come right down to it.  Research indicates that people who exercise regularly have better sex lives.  So is exercise sexy?  Yes, YES, OH GOD YES!!!!! Just don’t expect it to look like it does on TV.


The Fat Chick