Disclaimers on advertisements will not fix self-esteem issues

Everywhere we go, we are bombarded with advertisements. From television commercials to giant billboards, it’s hard to go anywhere without being persuaded to purchase some product that will supposedly significantly improve your lifestyle. Sometimes, however, advertisements make people feel inadequate.

But how accurate are these advertisements that depict the perfect person?  Will your pores disappear with that innovative new skin crème, and will that shampoo make your hair glow and flow in the wind?  Probably not.

Moreover, do the people in advertisements look as flawless as they are portrayed?

According to Alia Beard Rau of The Arizona Republic, Rep. Katie Hobbs, D-Phoenix, proposed a bill that would require advertisers who alter or enhance a photo to include a disclaimer clarifying that the photographs used were altered and that similar results may not be achieved.

"We just wanted to bring it to the table and start a discussion," Hobbs said. "We need to bring attention to these body-image issues, especially with young girls. Girls need to know that they don't have to look perfect."

Arizona is apparently the first state to consider such a bill. However, Hobbs’ call to action does not make this the first time that people have used advertisements to shape how women feel about themselves.

In 2004, Dove launched the Campaign for Real Beauty after a study found that only 2 percent of women in the world would describe themselves as beautiful. The campaign aimed to crush beauty stereotypes and help women feel beautiful.

In 2006, Dove produced a compelling short film called “Evolution,” which depicted the transformation of a “plain” woman into a billboard model. The film was meant make people think twice about the popular images forced on them via altered advertisements and billboards.

The campaign also led to thousands of women discussing beauty issues on Dove’s website, Campaignforrealbeauty.com. Then, in 2010, Dove launched the Dove Movement for Self-Esteem, an initiative aimed at inspiring women to inspire one another to feel beautiful and confident.

Regardless of whether the bill passes or not, it is important for young women and men to understand that the people they see in magazines and commercials aren’t perfect and that we are all beautiful in our own way. We don’t have to look like a celebrity on the front cover of People magazine.

Having a disclaimer on an advertisement will not eliminate self-esteem issues.  It is far more important for people to be educated and learn to be happy on their own. Advertisements should not define our happiness.

 

Reach the columnist at agales@asu.edu

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