Beauty and Body Image in Research Paper

Excerpt from Research Paper :

" Despite the fact that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" social and economic norms and standards make a clear difference between women in particular when it comes to their tagging in the society. There is a clear cut idea that the attribute of "beautiful" or "attractive" is also synonymous to higher rates of productivity.

Beautiful women are considered to be better assets for the companies and employers tend to perceive them as being more open minded and better communicators (Mobius and Rosenblat, 2006) There are those who consider that discrimination based on physical appearance is similar to that related to race and sex (Webster, 1983). More precisely, Webster argues that "attractiveness effects usually derive from the structure of the society. Beauty or its opposite often function as a status cue; that is, when it activates patterns of widely shared cultural beliefs it is a status characteristic just as race and sex are, meeting the same defining criteria and having most of the same sorts of effects as those other status characteristics" (Webster, 1983). Therefore, as stated before, beauty is an element which is clearly related to the society and the community. The difference between the reactions of black women as opposed to white women is also different in this situation.

Beauty or the lack of attractiveness also functions at the level of the employer. In this sense, women who are considered attractive are also viewed as better communicators and more productive at the work place. This is largely due to self-esteem. (Mobius and Rosenblat, 2006) Studies have pointed out that there is a difference between the perception employers tend to have in regard to attractive women. This is not because of the image, but rather to the message it send across. More precisely, the study conducted by Mobius and Rosenblat point out that if there were a choice between an attractive and a less attractive woman to offer an increase in the salary or employ one of them, the employer would chose the more attractive individual. The explanation is again related to self-esteem and the message the employee send across. People with self-esteem tend to be more communicative, open minded and team player. By comparison, persons with low self-esteem tend to become isolated individuals, which is counterproductive.

The importance of self-esteem is crucial for the relations inside the society. It demonstrates confidence and most importantly availability. Despite the fact that in terms of job assignment this reveals availability, inside the society it implies confidence. In this context, the role of advertising is crucial because it offers the image of any product in the world.

Part III -- effects of advertising on consumer choices

The use of highly attractive models is justified from a marketing point-of-view. The main idea behind the strategy revolves around the issue of selling. It is common knowledge that a beautiful body is more likely to sell a product such as a lingerie outfit or a perfume than an overweight person. From this point-of-view the use of HAMs is very common especially in the high fashion business. However, researches have pointed out that this method of advertising and selling has down sides.

As presented above, the role of self-esteem is crucial for the way in which an individual performs in the society and in their professional life. People can be judged on the way in which they dress, speak, and behave. This in turn is a reflection of the self-esteem projected in the outer environment. However, the self-esteem, especially in women represents a very sensitive issue because it relates most to the physical appearance. More precisely, Amanda Bower points out in one of her studies that "young adult female respondents reported that they compared themselves frequently with models in clothing, personal care, and cosmetics ads, and approximately one-third reported that these ads made them feel dissatisfied with their appearance. One study found that approximately 90% of white junior high and high school girls feel some level of dissatisfaction with their weight, leading to more than 60% of white teenagers dieting at least once in the past year" (Bower, 2001).

As presented above the use of comparison is mostly seen in the white population and this often results in eating disorders of dieting (Striegel-Moore, 2003). However, the self-esteem which is constructed in the early years of childhood and adulthood often influence the way in which women perceive themselves throughout their life. Therefore, the constant comparison with HAMs may determine their perception on physical appearance. This in turn can reflect in their consideration of beauty, standards, and choices.

The use of beautiful models in the advertising world has offered substantial results and is a path that most of the advertising people will continue to take. However depending on the reactions certain advertisements generate, the public can change its choice. In this sense, there has been a wide negative reaction to the amount of advertisements on different television channels which eventually reduce the rating of that channel. In order to have a better picture of the way in which the consumer's choice influences the mass communication channels, Kenneth Wilbur's study points out that when the quantity of the commercials was reduced, the television ratings for one channel increased by 20% (Wilbur, 2008). This comes to point out that regardless of the nature of the commercial people tend to be reluctant to be constantly the center of the advertisements.

The constant comparison to a certain model has determined a different perspective projected on the elements of comparison. This may lead in the best case to the rejection of the spokesperson which is the HAM and in the worst case to the actual denial of the product being advertised. As opposed to the reactions from the African-American women who reject the ideal but do consider the product, the white women have a tendency of denying the object which is most visible. From this point-of-view it is important to consider the way in which HAMs affect the efficiency of the advertisements.

Despite the general belief and spoken rejection, there is no clear cut evidence to support the belief that the use of HAMs for advertising has decrease sales (Bower, 2001). At the same time however, the studies conducted in this sense point out to the fact that the presence of HAMs in the advertisements clearly determines women to undervalue their own characteristics. Furthermore, there are scholars which conclude that the results of sociological studies point out the tendency of women to reject the products and the commercials because the ads using HAMs "deflated the self-image of potential customers when they compared themselves to models" (Chia-Ching Tsai, Chih-Hsiang Chang, 2007). Even so, there is no clear cut evidence from the marketing departments of major companies to support the idea.

Despite the lack of evidence, it is a logical assumption to consider true the assessment that one may refuse a product which is associated with an individual that provokes anxiety, disorders, or discontent. As stated above, self-esteem is crucial for the performance of a woman in particular. When this self-esteem is shaken by constant comparisons with ideal figures, it is rarely the case when these women tend to believe the advertisements and purchase the item.

To offer an additional perspective on the issue, the fact that a negative impact on the purchasing desires is not yet obvious in precise official figures, constant studies in this area reveal that some products may actually benefit from the HAMs associated with the products. In this sense, for instance, in terms of body shaping mechanisms, women are more responsive in buying the respective product if a HAM is associated with the product (Harrison et al., 2001). However, this is not necessarily a rule. This can be the result of the same process of comparison and low self-esteem. However, the purchase of fitness products for instance suggests an intention to actually improve a certain level of self-esteem. Therefore, the difference from previous processes is that instead of rejecting the product, women tend to embrace it and thus purchase it. While the advertising campaign was effective, the same sociological process of low self-esteem applies.

Given the pros and cons in relation to this aspect, advertising companies may relate to a different solution. The use of beautiful models may have its risks, from a sociological point-of-view. However, a possibility is to use average, beautiful females that may represent a more viable model for the everyday woman. In this sense, Bower underlines the possibility of using normally attractive models that women can relate to. This would somewhat discourage the need for comparison because the ideal would be much more attainable (Bower, 2001). At the same time it would limit the possibility of women identifying themselves with ideals that are unattainable and would also protect the product from any negative feelings from the potential consumers.

The denying of a product as a result of the advertisement or its quality is a similar process as the one promoted in…

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