Mirror, mirror, here I stand. Who is the fairest in the land?

Here we are again,

This week I’d like to talk about beauty in the true sense of the word.

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Every advertisement I see, is always related to beauty; most of the times the products are linked with beautiful endorsers, other times they’re so ugly to remind you about the importance of taking care of your body and eating healthy food in order to not be like them.

So, beauty is always in the centre of our thoughts, especially, when we are watching television or reading a magazine, but does it actually influence consumer’s decisions?

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Have you ever thought that every time you see a real handsome endorser, you don’t think he/she is only a good looking boy/girl, but you always add other features, which improve or decrease the attractiveness of that endorsers? In this article: “The Beauty Match-up Hypothesis: Congruence between Types of Beauty and Product Images in Advertising” I found an answer to this question. The authors, in fact, suggest and demonstrate that beauty perceived by the consumers is not a one-dimensional feature but rather a multidimensional one. So, the researchers find out different ways to define beauty: Classic Beauty, Cute, Sex-Kitten, Sensual, Girl-Next-Door, Exotic, Feminine and Trendy. They also create the “Beauty Match-up Hypothesis”, which states that an effective ad has to show a nice Gestalt: the beauty represented by the model has to be congruent with the message linked with the product. If it happens, the consumer will develop a greater positive attitude towards the ads.

Try, for example, to think if the soft and delicate fragrance of “Miss Dior” perfume is not endorsed by Natalie Portman but by Pamela Anderson, will it have the same effect?

I don’t think so… and not only because I love Natalie Portman…

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In this other article: “Is Beauty Best? Highly Versus Normally Attractive Models in Advertising”, the authors underline that even if the consumers associate high-attractive models with all the good things linked with beauty (success, money) and the normal attractive ones are associated with everyday problems, the consumers still find much more attractive the HAM. So, even if they find the NAM more trustworthy and expert with respect to ordinary problem solving, the ads with HAM are much more effective.

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Actually, our perception of beauty is also influenced by our culture. This paper: “The Construction of Beauty: A Cross-Cultural Analysis of Women’s Magazine Advertising”, states that beauty is defined in different way by diverse areas of the world. Comparing women’s ads’ portraits from USA, Singapore and Taiwan the authors find out, first of all, that the aforementioned Classic type of Beauty is preferred worldwide, so probably some aspects of beauty are universal. On the other hand, they find out that Caucasian girl are much more represented in sexual portrait than the Asiatic ones, not only in the Western culture, but also in the Eastern one, where the white Caucasian girl are used in provocative ads and the Asiatic model are portrayed in a more pure way. I find really interesting that the authors underline the fact that the adverts’ philosophy is patriarchal most of the time, so, the logic, which the advertiser follows to create an ad, is to think about what men could think while watching women. So, even if the Classic kind of beauty is recognised worldwide, in western country, the body is the main topic to define beauty, whereas, in the eastern world, is the face, the most important element used to identify it.

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This diversification could naturally trigger the typical feminist issue, which is one of the most favourite topics of us, women. “It’s really unfair that society could allow adverts like this, the model looks so unnatural… it’s not a surprise that anorexia is so widespread among girls…” I can already imagine loads of dialogues like this…

In effect, according to Sean Redmond (2003), advertisement world is trying to insinuate the idea of beauty associated with white, thin women. The problem of anorexia is for sure really important, as, especially among teenagers, the comparison with ads’ model could be very auto-destructive. In fact, as I read in the source “National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders”, the 95% of those who have eating disorders are between the age of 12 and 25.8.

In conclusion, beauty remains the hidden dream of everybody. People could die for beauty, could choose a product only for its beautiful endorser, but the extent to which do we want to go on? As you know, I’m really that kind of gullible person, but even me, I stopped to care a lot about that.

Life is too short to spend it in constant comparing yourself with a fake ad’s portrait.

So, stop watching it with envy and go outside! Have a walk and eat that delicious ice cream the endorser could never eat!

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3 thoughts on “Mirror, mirror, here I stand. Who is the fairest in the land?

  1. sarahbaby1127 says:

    I like beauty endorsement!! No matter what they bring us visual satisfaction.
    As i mentioned in my blog the brand endorsers usually need to conform to public’s expectations. Such as their appearance, personalities and image. So when they always represent brands , they tend to effort to maintain themselves in a positive conditions. For example, a endorser of a female cosmetic often to be required perfect skin quality and beautiful appearance in general view. Which is a really hard work.

    However, should i judge it in a serious way? Certainly, there are some negative impact like anorexia, it’s too sick. Therefore, i prefer healthy beauty!!

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  2. abp318 says:

    That’s a great post! and a big society problem…
    I love to eat and so… I eat! but for some unknown reasons my weight never vary! (in a way or another)

    The perception of beauty is an interesting topic and I’m glad that beside the efforts of some companies to try to modify our perception of beauty, we still have our preferences! We cannot change certain things, only improve a bit maybe and it seems to me that all these adverts bring mostly frustration, if I look at some of my friends.
    A study of Marsha L. R., (1991) showed that advertising generate social comparison to some extend and that satisfaction is lower within participant exposed to beautiful model in an advert, strangely enough for me, the same participant with lower self satisfaction found the ads appealing.
    They/We look at nice ads with beautiful models and that make us feel bad.

    It seems that like in the pharmaceutical industry, a good consumer is a consumer who does not feel good and who is unsatisfied in its present state!

    Marsha L. Richins, (Jun, 1991), Journal of Consumer Research, Vol. 18, No. 1 , pp. 71-83. available at: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2489486 (accessed 12 december 2013)

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  3. abucd7 says:

    Traditionally people think of comparison with advertising models as a method of self-evaluation. Comparing physical attractiveness to material possessions. Judging your own life and looks based on the ideal presented to you in the ad. The marketing side of the studies assume that this is the main motive behind comparing.

    More recently other motives have been touched on in the social psychology literature. Self-evaluation still remains but self-enhancement and self-improvement have also been identified. Self-enhancement deals with an individual’s biased attempts to maintain the positive views they have of themselves to protect their self-esteem. Self-improvement being more self explanatory. I think we can all agree it’s potentially dangerous stuff if seen by a certain type of vulnerable person. Especially if the advertisers aren’t fully aware to consumer sensitivity to social comparison information being given off by their ads.

    Alternatively, it raises the question that if they are aware of what their ad is portraying what are the ethical and moral implications of that firm.

    http://www.acrwebsite.org/search/view-conference-proceedings.aspx?Id=5973

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