Still Killing us Softly by Jean Kilbourne gives us prime examples of how the media tries to influence the way we see our society. The advertisement examples that she gives show how they portray the ideal woman as young, thin and beautiful, as well as making all men to look like powerful and insensitive animals (which they aren’t). Both of the distortions use pathos as their persuasive devises by evoking emotion in the consumers to cause them to buy their product.In almost all advertisements with the exception of Depends and Polydent, all the models are probably not over twenty-five. This may have worked in the 1930’s when, according the American Academy of Anti-Aging, the life expectancy was thirty-five.
However, that is not the case today, when the average person living in America is predicted to live to 85. The media is entirely misrepresenting the average person just to make it look as if you use their product; your age will be preserved. This causes many consumers to become disheartened and want to look younger.
Another marketing strategy is to use models that are tall and slender. By doing this in clothing ads they lure the consumer into thinking that it is the clothes that are making them look that perfect, when actually, it’s for the most part camera tricks and a lot of starvation. Advertisers often use fear tactics, or slippery slope to scare the women into thinking that their product is the only thing keeping them from being overweight. Most often these cases are found in weight loss pills and appetite suppressants that show before and after pictures of someone who has successfully used their product.Have you ever seen a model in an ad for beauty products or a clothing store that was not completely gorgeous? It makes pretty good sense doesn’t it? Who would want to buy clothing worn by plain or even ugly people? I find myself falling into this superficial trap every time I look at the circulars in the Sunday paper. I want to look as perfect as they do, and sometimes think that by wearing their clothes, my looks will improve. However it does not take me long to realize how ridiculous I sound.
Women buy cosmetics for the same reason, to improve their looks, plain and simple. They want a product that brings out their features and accentuates their beauty. However, these models do not represent the majority of the skin types or complexions of women. In fact these models do not even have this perfect skin, rather it’s a product of meticulous airbrushing, but few consumers take that into account. Most just become envious of these models and kick themselves for that one night they were too lazy to take off their makeup.
Men are also labeled in the media. Most male models have a commanding and powerful sense of style. They always look in shape whether they are in a three-piece suit or in jogging shorts and a tank top. Particularly in men’s cologne commercials the men are always handsome and have an ideal body. Just as women are looked at like sex object in some advertisements, women equally gawk at men. Both sexes, to a certain extent, enjoy attention from the opposite sex.
These ads cause the consumer to see life through the eyes of theses models and they conclude that if it looks good on the models, then it must look good on them. Once again Pathos, that little trick Cicero thought was so important, prevails (322). After hearing what Kilbourne has to say, the consumer is ultimately disgusted with him or herself. However, this is good thing! We recognize how advertisers use pathos to evoke emotions of unsatisfaction about the way we look, and strive to become perfect by using their products. After these realizations the consumer is less likely to fall into the advertisers pitfall and more likely to conceive their motives.