The Effects of Advertising

By: Katie LaBeau

November 30, 2016


We live in a world today that is so driven and influenced by the content of media. We alter how we look, act, and even think in order to fit in to the common standard that is shown to us. People are most influenced by the advertisements they are viewing. In what ways do advertisements have negative effects on men, children and women in America?

What is Advertising?

thAdvertising the way in which companies or organizations share a message to a mass audience. Persuading, awareness, and educating the population is the main goals of advertising. Ads often convince people to buy products or think in a certain way.

Millions of people are exposed to advertisements everyday. These advertisements often show unreal pictures. The power of technology allows professionals to edit the images until perfection is achieved. People are unaware that the advertisements they are being exposed to are actually impacting their everyday life.

The bottom line is, in order for companies to be successful they must convince people to buy their products. They do this by advertising. Normally, the advertisements they release to the public are not realistic. What effects do these unrealistic ads have on people?

What Unrealistic Standards do Advertisements Create and Whom Do They Effect?

The Negative Effects of Advertising on Society highlights a few of the main effects that advertisements have on society.

“Advertising makes us feels that we are not enough as we are.” – The Negative Effects of Advertising on Society 

Almost every advertisement we view has been altered with by professionals. These professionals can reshape people’s bodies and faces completely. Theses unrealistic images have ultimately set a standard for society to follow. Many people believe that if they don’t look like the models in the ads, they aren’t good enough.


In this example, the model’s body sustained an extreme editing process. With the use of softwares, the company was able to take the woman’s body from a size 16 to a size 6. This shows the power of editing.


People don’t understand the negative impact that advertisements have on women in particular. Influences of Unrealistic Beauty Ideals in the Media discusses the numerous ways in which women are effected not only mentally, but physically as well.

“As these standards become more prevalent and more persuasive, so do the amount of women and girls with low self-worth, eating disorders, and depression. By the time the average American girl reaches the age of 17, she has seen more than 250,000 commercial messages aimed at her appearance” – Influences of Unrealistic Beauty Ideals in the Media

The content that women are shown shouldn’t affect them in such a severe way. Advertisements should try to bring people up, not tear them down.

Kate Fox conducted a research study on body image and the resulting were shocking. In her article Mirror Mirror she states, “All research to date on body image shows that women are much more critical of their appearance than men – much less likely to admire what they see in the mirror. Up to 8 out of 10 women will be dissatisfied with their reflection, and more than half may see a distorted image.” Women are very hard on themselves when it comes to how they look. The appearance standards that society has set for women are much higher than those of men. These standards are nearly unachievable.

“The current media ideal for women is achievable by less than 5% of the female population – and that’s just in terms of weight and size. If you want the ideal shape, face etc., it’s probably more like 1%.” – Kate Fox, Mirror Mirror

Companies began to realize the enormous impact that advertisements had on women relating to body image. The power of technology allows companies to manipulate the images of their models until the desired outcome is reached. Most companies in the United States edit their models in order to reach an unrealistic ideal of perfection.

However, there are companies that are taking a stand against drastic editing of their advertisements. Are We Finally Fed Up with the Media’s Unrealistic portrayal of Women’s Bodies discuss the few companies who are breaking free from the overwhelming stigma. Aerie and Seventeen magazine have vowed to never alter the body sizes or face shapes of their models. Other companies such as Pantene, Special K, and Dove are making efforts to release ads that empower women.


This advertisement is a great example of how Dove is attempting to show more realistic standards in their advertisements. People come in all shapes and sizes, and should be recognized in that way.


By nature, men are drawn to sexual content. Companies know that this characteristic exists. With that being, a lot of advertisements that are directed to men objectify women’s bodies. Jean Kilbourne states in her article Killing Us Softly 4,  “There’s a focus on breasts, on grotesquely positioned limbs. There are the come-hither poses of the models and the frequent displays or insinuations of rape. Women of colour in advertising are often portrayed animalistically or exotified.” The ways in which women bodies are manipulated to sell items directed towards males is completely unacceptable. Men take these images and ideas from advertisements and begin to believe that women are sexual objects.

tom-ford-banned-ad1In this cologne advertisement, a woman’s body is shown in a way that sexually appeals the male audience. In reality, a naked woman and cologne have nothing to do with one another.

Kilbourne later states, “For males, there’s the trend of turning men’s bodies into sex objects as well, and this has increased from the past. However, this is different from women’s dismemberment because men don’t live in a world in which their bodies are continually judged. Statistically, there are fewer consequences for men as a result of this objectification.” Just as women, mens bodies get manipulated in different ways. The ads that display men as sexual objects have little to no impact on the male population in society.


It’s safe to say that almost all of the parents in America have had the food battle with their children. It’s as if parents have to convince their children to eat the unappealing foods given to them. Why is it so hard for parents to pave the path of a healthy lifestyle for their children? Advertising could be to blame for this struggle.

Impact of Media Use on Children and Youth states, “The average child sees more than 20,000 commercials each year. More than 60% of commercials promote sugared cereals, candy, fatty foods and toys.” More than half of the advertisement kids are exposed to encourage an unhealthy lifestyle. I know in my lifetime, I haven’t seen many ads for healthy food directed to kids. Advertisements are teaching kids bad habits.

Negative Impacts of Advertising highlights the major influences that children face daily from ads. Katie Jensen found that there is a link between food advertising and what children prefer to consume. The food ads that are aimed towards children are very appealing. Companies often advertise children’s favorite characters on their unhealthy products or promise a free toy with the purchase. We all know that as a child a free toy is very appealing. These briberies to eat unhealthy could later affect a child’s health.


Lucky Charms is an unhealthy cereal brand. In this picture, they are bribing their customer with a free toy. Children will only see the free toy and not the nutritional value.

Children aren’t only impacted by unhealthy food ads. From a very young age children begin to see that advertisements that show women in  a way that is completely untrue. Photoshopping: Altering Images and Our Minds discusses the issues that editing brings to society. Dr. McAneny of the AMA states, “We must stop exposing impressionable children and teenagers to advertisements portraying models with body types only attainable with the help of photo editing software.” Children are like sponges; they soak up anything and everything. From a young age we are teaching children the unrealistic standards of beauty.


Men, women, and children are known to conform to what the society thinks is acceptable. Since advertising is so widely viewed, this is one of the main streams that displays the unrealistic standards of society. We see the severe impact that advertising has on society, but chose to do nothing about it. What will our future look like if we continue to ignore this problem?


Ressler-Culp , Tara. “Are We Finally Fed Up With The Media’s Unrealistic Portrayal Of Women’s Bodies?” ThinkProgress. 16 Jun. 2014, . Accessed 11 Nov. 2016.

Fox, Kate. “Mirror, Mirror.” Social Issues Research Centre. 1997, . Accessed 11 Nov. 2016.

“Influences of Unrealistic Beauty Ideals in the Media.” 7 cups. 17 Dec. 2014, atureESSAYSOPINIONSPONDERINGS_266/InfluencesofUnrealisticBeautyIdealsintheMedia_14452/ . Accessed 10 Nov. 2016.

“Negative Impact of Advertising.” Chron. . Accessed 10 Nov. 2016.

Archon, Sofo. “The Negative Effects of Advertising on Society.” The Unbound Spirit. . Accessed 10 Nov. 2016.

“Impact of Media Use on Children and Youth.” US National Library of Medicine National  Institutes of Health. 8 May 2003, . Accessed 10 Nov. 2016.

BR Admin. “Photoshopping: Altering Images and Our Minds.” Beauty Refined. 12 Mar. 2016, Accessed 10 Nov. 2016.

Kilbourne, Jean. “Killing Us Softly 4.” 16 Nov. 2011, Accessed 10 Nov. 2016.


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