I saw an advertisement today for a very popular mobile app (which I will leave unnamed) and frankly it forced me to see everything wrong with the media and how it affects us. This app, a simple puzzle game, showed an animated video of a woman working out, and then her romantic partner surprised her in the middle of her workout to introduce her to a friend. In this video, she scrambles to “make herself presentable” in the middle of her workout in the five seconds she has to open the door. The app is a game, so of course, the video shows some attempts at fixing herself up, but the video then ends with the partner throwing flowers at her because she didn’t look appropriately attractive and then stormed off. Shameful.
Adults can typically look at this for what it is: a silly game and an overdramatic rendition of reality, but this ad was not targeted at discerning adults. This was an app targeted at teenagers; people who are already suffering the brutality of self-image, stemming from the pressures of social media, school and other kids their age. Other ads for this app are truly just as bad, they condemn the differences, girls who look less-than-perfect with peers laughing at the appearances and friends gasping at the horror of have blemishes on her face. We are preaching to these young girls that to be anything less than perfect is to be ridiculed, and to be the one ridiculing is okay. It’s no wonder body image issues, depression and anxiety are at an all-time high in our society.
With emphasis put on the exterior, we inflate physical appearance over things like kindness, genuineness, mental strength and all of the qualities we claim to want our children to have. Sadly, with the need for perfection on the exterior, we encourage young minds to conceal their imperfections: emotional issues, familial issues, mental issues; they are all tucked away behind a mask that these kids feel that they have to show to the world. Sadly, that also retards making genuine connections with people, because now they don’t know when it’s okay to let those “imperfections” be seen.
The emphasis on the exterior, the need for perfection and beauty, it is emphasized by the media. Young girls learn to put so much make up on their face that it really rivals that of stage make-up. They look plastic. They look 10 years older and still they are subjected to the unfairness of the rest of the world saying things like “false advertising” if they were to ever show their face without makeup. This double-edged sword is that of media versus men (who, actually are fueling the media in the first place). Young girls hear men say these words, this hate toward everything that society taught them and now have no idea how to navigate these relationships. “False-advertising” turns into fear of showing what their face and body look like without the makeup. It turns into sleeping with makeup on. It turns into women doing their makeup before they go into the gym, because god forbid we let a single person see us with any kind of imperfection.
I am not writing this article to condemn this app or young girls wearing make-up. Honestly, the fault does not lie with any one party at face-value. Media and consumer research is what influences these types of advertisements, and rather than fighting against the grain to raise a positive message, most brands will choose the route that makes them the most money. Fair enough. But it’s important to remember that our minds fuel the media. The things that we as a society buy in to. The links that we click on. The words that we are posting online. Why is the media poison to us? Because our society allows this click bait to grow and get worse, and the people most affected by it are kids.
Thank you for reading! Let’s continue this discussion in the comment section below!