My commercial for MTV tries to capture the schizophrenic messages viewers receive on a daily basis from the media. From woman abuse, to slipping pills in champagne and advertising date rape, to calling women “collectibles” and encouraging rape culture with messages such as “I know you want it,” MTV does a great job of creating culture and encouraging negative stereotypes of femininity.
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The ad I selected has actually drawn a lot of negative reactions from the British audiences (it appeared in Britain) and for good reasons. First, it is poorly realized to say the least, as, at first sight, it’s unclear what is being advertised. My first guess was swimwear, second was tanning services, and third, a fitness center or workout routine. It turns out it’s an ad for a protein shake. I felt compelled to speak up, yet again, about the unrealistic standards of beauty imposed by the media in the western world, as well as the negative effects of this form of “public shaming” that’s suggested by ads such as this one. By using vague expressions such as “beach body,” that sound good and carry certain implications but have no real meaning, ads like this push people to see themselves as less than appropriate to exist in public spaces. A protein shake, even if consumed on a daily basis, cannot deliver a toned, well-proportionate, lean body, especially one that’s been obviously enhanced with the help of technology such as Photoshop. I’m an Asian woman who weighs less than recommended for my height, but an ad like this makes me feel highly inadequate and implicitly not “beach ready.” So, those people who are not “beach-body ready” are therefore not welcome to join in and take advantage of public spaces such as a beach? What are these people supposed to do? Tan indoors or simply cower away in shame? Statements such as these are ridiculous and yet they hit home for a large percentage of women. I’d like to point out only one trend I noticed towards more and more “covered” bathing suits on the beaches in North America. Few women dare bare their bodies in two-piece swimwear or “bikinis” such as this model is wearing. Thus, this rather simple message is not at all simple as it has wide implications for people’s self-esteem and influences the way people see themselves and their relationship with the public space and the idea of being “seen” and possibly criticized.
In my “jammed” version of the ad, I decided not to take a humorous attitude towards this subject but rather go for “shock and awe” because this issue is very serious and is affecting the lives of many people. What ads like these are doing, with such simplistic statements and a powerful image, is set a sense of urgency in people who therefore resort to drastic measures in order to quickly try to meet some impossible demands. By asking rhetorical questions which are also very broadly formulated, the ad makers are instilling this sentiment of “do something now,” “act immediately” as you are running out of time. If “You,” the consumer are not “beach body ready,” then you must do something right away in order to fit into some ideal of beauty which has been pre-set for you by the so-called “public opinion” or accepted ideal of beauty. Pushed by ads such as these people – and most often than not, women – resort to quick solutions, such as combining extreme dieting with pills that promise weight loss overnight. In reality, everyone knows that crash dieting leads to nothing but bulimia and anorexia, and that diet pills can have terrible effects on people’s health. In the long run, crash dieting can lead to serious health conditions and ironically, more weight gain as the organism is shocked into believing there is starvation ahead. I doubt there is any woman today in North America who hasn’t tried at least one diet pill which promises quick results. Whether these are effective or not is a matter of debate but definitely no diet pill can offer one a “beach body” overnight. By posting such ads, probably close to the coming of the summer months, companies do nothing but encourage consumerism and a frantic search for quick solutions, from protein shake diets to diet pills that are being taken by the handful. I hope my jammed version of the ad shows the ugly reality of crash dieting and the obsession with unrealistic standards of beauty.