Ethics in media are always fun. While certain companies have ignored the criticism and continued to air-brush and starve their models, others have taken a more wholesome approach – marketing their products to “real” women. Two companies are in particular contrast. See: Dove vs. Axe. But, in looking at the ethics of one vs the other, are they so different? There is little difference between an Axe commercial and a male sexual fantasy. Beautiful, thin women coming out in droves to stroke the head of a guy made desirable by his Axe hair care or body spray product. You could easily and accurately argue that these commercials objectify women. You could also easily and accurately argue that the commercials work.
Then there are the Dove commercials. These commercials market their “real” products at “real” women. The commercials show girls of all shapes, ages and ethnicities smiling and applying their deodorant or washing their hair. They make a point to include diversity and to showcase a different, more positive image of happiness. Their tag line is something along the lines of being comfortable in your own skin and being happy with your body. Mostly, this is marketed toward women.
The plus sized model debate has caught my and many others’ attention. So have all the quotes from numerous celebrities about accepting your body to be what it is. A lot of this I agree with. But there is a point to be made about being okay with our bodies vs being okay with an unhealthy lifestyle.
There is currently an unattainable notion of beauty – photoshopping already-unhealthy women to be skinnier than they already are, and then playing that off as the image of beauty of is wrong. Mostly, because that look isn’t possible and those actions aren’t feasible, and it taints the minds of the young and impressionable (see, any Axe commercial ever).
While I don’t want to commit anyone to the depths of bulimia or anorexia, I do want people to know that being okay with being overweight, is, indeed, not alright.
You then have the idea of sales. It is worth noting that both Axe and Dove are owned by Unilever. So the same company that objectifies women also reassures them.
As we consumers watch TV and judge the commercials for their messages or marketing techniques, just know that the media only supplies what is demanded.