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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Advertisements: Killing us softly

What is your first thought when you hear the term 'Advertisements'? It could be 'It's everywhere', 'there is no escape from it', 'fillers', or even a tune you like to hum 'kynki har ek dost.....'!

Some numbers:
  • 27,000 crore industry in India, $250 billion industry in US
  • Average American is exposed to 3000 ads every single day; will spend 2 years of his life watching television commercials
Advertising is a very powerful educational force. Ads sell more than products. They sell values, images, concepts of love and sexuality, success and perhaps most important, of normalcy. To a great extent, they tell us who we are and who we should be.

The sad thing about ads is that even though we tend to ignore it, it still makes an impact. "Only 8% of an Ad's message is received by the conscious mind. The rest is worked and reworked deep within the recesses of the brain." - Rance Crain

Unfortunately, we are living in an environment that surrounds us with unhealthy images and constantly sacrifices our health and our sense of well-being for the sake of profit.

Women are most vulnerable to advertisements. We might be looking at a TV commercial and think we are looking at 1 woman, but we are really seeing four. One woman's face, another woman's hair, another woman's hands and another woman's legs; four or five women put together to look like one perfect women. This false image of beauty creates self-esteem issues in women. Take a look at this video and the video below.

How bad are the effect of these these ads?

The way women are portrayed in ads creates multiple issues. It is common to see ads dehumanize and objectify women. Turning a human being into a thing is almost always the first step towards justifying violence against that person. It creates bias based on looks and gender. The false image of beauty has led to a a dramatic increase in cosmetic procedures, 91% of which are performed on women. Moreover, it creates health issues in the form of eating disorders and psychological issues in young women. To men, such ads cause them to judge women harshly and instigate violence against women.

Bottom line: Get involved in whatever ways moves us to change not just these ads but these attitudes that run so deep in out culture and that affect each one of us so deeply, whether we are conscious of it or not. Create awareness.

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