Featured in Film
10 14 11

In theaters across the country, audiences are viewing Darryl Roberts film, America the Beautiful- The Thin Commandments.  The film covers topics including weight loss, the Body Mass Index and the negative affects of dieting.  The film features a section about Jenn and the message behind Real Body Story.  To view the trailer,

http://americathebeautifuldoc.com/2/atb/the-thin-commandments/

 


Ageist Ad Rule #3
01 01 11

Ageist advertisements are nothing new.  American’s infatuation with maintaining a youthful appearance is evidenced in advertisements spanning nearly 100 years.  Woman in the U.S. culture are told they should “guard against” signs of aging and consumer advertising supports the claim.

 

Good thing I wasn’t a product of the 1940s.  I thought I looked fine at age eighteen and my self-esteem only continued to improve through my mid-twenties, I was just hitting my stride.  A 1940s Palmolive advertisement successfully degrades woman at any age over 18 because that’s where Palmolive set the youth barometer.  The cartoon in the ad reads, “…What is the matter with your skin…it makes you look at least 25 instead of 18…” 

 

To see more vintage Palmolive advertisements visit Duke University’s Ad Access database at http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/adaccess/
 or visit The Emergence of Advertising in America- 1859-1920 at http://library.duke.edu/digitalcollections/eaa/

 

Ageist Advertising Rule #3- Learn from history.  Set the age ideal so young women feel inclined to buy products or make changes to their beauty regimen to hide their chronological age.


Ageist Ad Rule #2
12 29 10

Fight. When I think of the word, it brings back memories of my school age days; bullies in the hallway or mean girls making threats and instigating a melee. The connotation of the word itself arouses emotions of defensiveness and anxiousness. I don't associate the word with adult images because adults don't fight, or at least it is socially unacceptable for an adult to engage in a physical fight. The denotation of the word is "to contend in battle or physical combat." After reading the Aveeno advertisement, I have an unsettling feeling; reminiscent of making eye contact with the meanest girl in junior high school, a time when my number one goal was to go unnoticed.

 

Carefully crafted, the ad asks, "What if you could fight aging with every wash?" Fight aging? Am I supposed to feel defensive and threatened? Aging is a natural process, but ageist language in advertisements convinces women to go against their environment and put up a good fight without succumbing to aging. After all, most of a woman's social capital is in the way she looks, so she must stay young. The problem: no product has been proven to reverse or stop the aging process, aging is inevitable. When advertisers create ageist ads, women may temporarily feel powerful and in control but eventually they are defeated because the battle cannot be won by using some miracle product.

 

Ageist advertising rule #2- Tell women frequently they need your help, your product, to take control of the aging process. The more you remind them, the more you'll convince the group as a whole that they are of no value to society unless they defeat aging. Let the battle rage on!


Ageist Ad Rule #1
10 20 10

Ageist language in advertisements may help consumers identify problems they wouldn’t recognize on their own; without the help of marketers.  For example, the following advertisement claims that your face should be void of facial lines.  In a recent classroom exercise, I challenged college students to find



peers in their class without parentheses on their face.  In a mixture of laughter followed by silence, most of the class realized that every participant possessed those facial features, despite the class demographics; all were under the age of 21.  Even my nine year old has a face marked with the parentheses frame!

 

 

The advertisement claims, “…so smooth and natural, everyone will notice…”  What could possibly be natural about a face without lines and distinction?  If our faces under the age of 21 are eligible for this treatment, imagine our need at age 50.  Ageism in advertisements reminds consumers that aging should be avoided and promises to give people control over the “disease” called aging.    “…But no one will know…” sends a message of shame about the aging process; assuring women that their treatment is a secret and therefore no one else will know they have the disease.

 

Ageist advertising rule #1- Make sure your copy includes words that shame, humiliate or label a natural process as something that requires an unnecessary medical treatment.


Ageism- A Weekly Look at Advertisements
03 27 09

A Wrinkle in Our Time: Ageist Language in Advertisements

In the early 1990s waif-like models and the desire to be ultra thin was a prevailing theme in advertising.  From perfume to blue jean advertisements models selling these items looked emaciated yet fashionable.  Nearly twenty years later the new trend is youth.  It would be erroneous to state the advertising industry is now engaging in the practice of using young models; this is common, but the age does seem to be getting younger with each year.  Supermodel Kim Noorda graced the cover of Bazaar magazine in August 2008, she's 22.  The median age of Bazaar's readers is 43.7 years old.

 

In his book, Forever Young, Marcel Danesi writes, "Needless to say, a society bombarded incessantly by images of youth is bound to become more and more susceptible to seeing those images as the norm."

 

Fearing growing old, negative feelings about the signs of aging and the myth that the aging process is some sort of disease are all characteristics of ageism.    Gaining momentum in our society is a new anti-aging campaign that simultaneously embraces one generation while degrades the next.  Its message:  you can control and defy age.

 

Visit Real Body Story each week and we'll explore ageist language in advertisements.  Why?  Women are convinced at an early age how they should look; that appearance can be controlled through the use and application of various products and services.  The problem lies in the description of beauty, often presented in polar opposites: what it is and what it is not; the perfect or imperfect, thin or fat, youthful or old.  Advertising  promises us that we can defeat age.  Unfortunately, women become participants in a competition they can't win because aging is inevitable.


In the News
03 25 09

The Deseret News covered Real Body Story.  Read Article

Original story published in The Sacramento Bee.

Please understand the context of the article.  My intent is not to keep the proverbial scorecard for acceptable and unacceptable cosmetic procedures: is it okay to have facial warts removed, can I fix that scar on my face, or can I repair a deformity?  The Real Body Story's message is related to influence; how a preoccupation with beauty ideals and perfection interferes with and prevents us from focusing on more important things in life.  The "Real Body Story" is a personal story about how my reckless preoccupation with weight had a negative and potentially deadly impact on my younger sister, who looked up to me.  The story is not an attack on the cosmetic surgery industry, to interpret the story in this way misses the point entirely.







Real Body Story Side Notes
10 14 11
Featured in Film

In theaters across the country, audiences are viewing Darryl Roberts film, America the Beautiful- The Thin Commandments.  The film covers topics including weight loss, the Body Mass Index and the negative affects of dieting.  The film features a section about Jenn and the message...More


01 01 11
Ageist Ad Rule #3

Ageist advertisements are nothing new.  American’s infatuation with maintaining a youthful appearance is evidenced in advertisements spanning nearly 100 years.  Woman in the U.S. culture are told they should “guard against” signs of aging and consumer advertising...More


12 29 10
Ageist Ad Rule #2

Fight. When I think of the word, it brings back memories of my school age days; bullies in the hallway or mean girls making threats and instigating a melee. The connotation of the word itself arouses emotions of defensiveness and anxiousness. I don't associate the word with adult images because...More


10 20 10
Ageist Ad Rule #1

Ageist language in advertisements may help consumers identify problems they wouldn’t recognize on their own; without the help of marketers.  For example, the following advertisement claims that your face should be void of facial lines.  In a recent classroom exercise, I...More


03 27 09
Ageism- A Weekly Look at Advertisements

A Wrinkle in Our Time: Ageist Language in Advertisements

In the early 1990s waif-like models and the desire to be ultra thin was a prevailing theme in advertising.  From perfume to blue jean advertisements models selling these items looked emaciated yet...More


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Real Body Story Side Notes
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