Every woman wants to look beautiful. Being a woman, in today’s society, we have been surrounded by the wonderful world of make up since the young teenage days of stealing make up from older sisters. Women are hardwired at a young age to see makeup ads, buy makeup products, and apply! As lead cosmetic companies compete against one another for their number one demographic, young women; some cosmetic brands have been questioned on the validity of their advertisements. This could be a leading factor for why the UK’s advertising laws are becoming more and more regulated.
In the fall of 2012, many Christian Dior advertisements were banned from the UK due to Natalie Portman’s Dior “New Look” mascara advertisement, accused of using exaggerated effects portraying luscious long lashes. The Advertising Standards Authority (AVA) had one complaint; it did not come from any consumer though, it came from Dior’s rival, L’Oreal. As reported on ABC news, “Dior told the Advertising Standards Authority that Portman’s natural lashes were digitally retouched in post-production to lengthen and curve them”. You may ask, isn’t every cosmetic company out there adding some kind of digital airbrushing? This ethical problem Dior faces is something that happens quite often in the United States but is rarely called out on. The young women in America are so conditioned to false “retouches” in cosmetic advertisements, that it is expected. If we know these advertisements are outrageously exaggerated, how do so many consumers get reeled in and buy the product anyways?
Daniel Kahneman, author of “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, would have something to say about this; he would probably say the consumer decisions of these young ladies are due to the way they think, they are using System 1 thinking. System 1 thinking gives you the ability to evaluate, using a basic assessment of a situation or person. The basic assessment young women make after seeing this advertisement is the acceptance that a beautiful, well-known, actress uses this product and looks like this. System 2 thinking gives you the ability to see an error in system 1. In other words, your mind can believe when proven the photo is digitally effected, but that is not what initially comes to mind.
I personally am glad advertisement regulations are becoming more strict, and that companies and consumers are calling out false advertising. Cosmetic companies do take advantage and influence the youth with luxurious pictures, promising them with beauty. Hopefully prominent makeup brands will be ethical in the future with the product they are promoting, because women want the same luscious lashes we see in magazines!
I like your post. The false advertisement issues you examine are of course important, but the solutions you mention are equally important. There is a “both-and” quality that we must keep in mind. We must become better thinkers as citizens and consumers. But there can also be reasonable calls for regulation that do not vioate freedoim of expression rights. Media Literacy ought to be part of every K-12 curriculum so that early on kids have practice in system 2 thinking as it relates to one of the primary message systems they will have to deal with. Early on with kids I would ask them “do you think that toy really does that?” And they were able to discern when exaggerated angles and claims were being made. It didn’t take the fun out of Christmas or birthdays but it did help them process the messages critically.
Thank you, I agree that at a very young age we should be challenging kids by asking, if they trust an advertisement to be true. I believe that the study of rhetoric should be taught at an earlier age. The more students can understand and point out rhetoric in advertisements, the wiser the choices they will make. At a young age we should be asked to question more, to not just accept the initial image we see. There is always more than what meets the eye, but you need to use system 2 thinking to discover it!
As a female myself, I know I have spent a pretty penny on makeup to improve my image…Okay I’m a guy but I have three sisters. I have seen them shovel out money for years on countless amounts of facial products that guarantee a noticeable improvement. I think it is border-line insane… You would think that they would slowly become informed consumers and come to terms with the fact that the claims made by advertisements are far from the truth. But seeing as how my sisters still haven’t learned this elementary lesson I feel like there should be some sort of regulation on these advertisements. You blatantly lied through your advertisement – at least own it. I know we should be a more discerning society, but we’re not.
This was a great post! With myself being a female I can totally relate to this because after seeing a commercial for a ‘new’ make-up I want to run to the nearest store to try it out! I feel that false advertising is something that is becoming more common than not. I even catch myself sometimes questioning if something that says is live really is. We are told not to believe all of what advertisements say yet, many of us do and let it effect how we feel about our own body image.
I agree, I really like that the UK has begun to take a stand against the misleadings in makeup advertisements. As a female consumer of these products I feel that it is important that as society we have come to understand that there are ways in which advertising misleads us. While it does make consumers more skeptical, we are also better able to make smarter and more informed purchasing decisions. I don’t think that realistically, advertisers will stop using digital enhancements, but it is beneficial to the polis that consumers understand that they cannot always take the advertisements at face value.
Even though I am aware of the deceptive techniques marketers like to use in beauty advertisements, I often see myself falling for them anyways. I guess it must be even worse for people who are not that involved in or informed about Marketing. For that reason I believe the consumer should be protected from making purchases based on those ads as they are leading to unrealistic expectations and could harm the self image of the buyer.
I am also glad that the UK is cracking down on false advertisements. I think America should strongly consider adopting the same policy, as we have young girls everywhere constantly struggling with body image. We look at ads for foundation, mascara, even clothing, and think to ourselves, “why can’t I look like that?” What we as consumers need to understand is that the majority of these images have been retouched to perfection. We need to train our brains to start thinking in terms of System 2.