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Since the beginning of the twentieth century, advertisers have slowly succeeded in making women think of their bodies as a commodity. Now, more than ever, women are more conscious of their weight. Over half of the women who are deeply concerned with their weight, half of them actually have normal body weight. Girls as young as thirteen are now having eating disorders and contemplating suicide due to what they consider undesirable weight or figure. The advertisers have pushed the concept that ideal beauty is achievable through cosmetics and dieting, little wonder the make-up industry costs girls an estimated 4 billion US dollars every year. This essay looks at a case study portraying the advertisers’ view of beauty, which many women and girls pursue as their sole purpose in life.
Film Advert: Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous
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Women in the media are facing numerous challenges that hinder personality development due to stringent commercial needs that have transformed the advertising industry (Breazeale, 1994). The commercial that we shall tackle is a poster promoting the film Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous, featuring one of the main actors Sandra Bullock. The poster features an interesting female character who is struggling to fit into a more feminine role while undertaking a masculine job. The task turns out to be harder than it seems since as a woman Sandra Bullock has to encounter tough and masculine world of crime investigation. The aim of this paper is to compare the stereotypical portrayal of women in the media, and the distorted view of beauty the media propagates.
The line between beauty and sex objectification has become harder to define over years (Jhally, 1990). Due to the media’s influence, what people initially used to consider objectification of women is now what many people consider the ultimate expression of female sexuality (Kilbourne, 1999). Advertising has popularized the concept that a thinner body is a sign of control and a promise of independence (Kilbourne, 1999). According to advertising ideals, women are supposed to be provocative, and this is an ideal achievable through sacrifices in their diet choices and in the choice of their fashion (Breazeale, 1994). Research has also shown that models’ weight is more than twenty percent less than that of common women. Therefore, the media has distorted the view about beauty by encouraging population to associate thin girls with beauty while plump girls continue to be associated with ugliness and such an expression as fat ‘cow’ remains relevant even today (Breazeale, 1994). Negative views about the female body have led to detrimental mental and emotional side effect in which plump girls lose confidence and self-esteem as they try to fit into the stereotypical lean figure advocated by the media as the most beautiful size and shape (Jhally, 1990). Subsequently, women have adopted poor eating methods and the use of excessive medical and nonmedical means to cut weight resulting in adverse effects on women’s health. In the United States, only 2% of the women consider themselves beautiful; an additional 25% of them suffer from anorexia and other eating disorder brought about by the desire to remain slim (Kilbourne, 1999).
The source of the film advertisement
The Sandra Bullock advertisement is available on the official website promoting the movie stated earlier. Colors combinations are indicative of both feminist and masculine ideal behaviors (Kilbourne, 1999). The brightly colored poster features Sandra Bullock, as one of the top female ballet dancers because of the yellow ballet dancing attire in her right foot to define her true feminist agenda journey through the entertainment industry. Since Sandra Bullock is playing a leading role in the movie as a protector who fights the underground criminal activities, her role as an FBI agent contradicts her feminine gentler role as a mother and home maker (Kilbourne, 1999). The pink ballet dancing costume hanging at her tail is supposed to give the impression that Sandra Bullock is feminine (Jhally, 1990). On the other hand, the left leg is in heavy military like boots and a gun at her thigh to testify that Sandra Bullock is an FBI agent. Necklaces and a matching yellow skimpy dress give the impression of a feminine model but the gun and the boot give a masculine aspect of her occupation in movie (Kilbourne, 1999).
The product the advert is promoting is the film, Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous, featuring Sandra Bullock who also takes the leading role.
Details of the picture
An interesting mixture of colors in her clothing and pieces of jewelry, to begin with, is very comical in nature. On the poster, where she is portrayed smiling cheerfully, with an endearing look in her eyes, she is a feminine model. The picture paints the fact that she is literally trying to get out of her “less feminine” shape (Kilbourne, 1999) into a federal agent attire while at the same time she is trying to wear her ballet dancing attire while undoing her FBI job. Instead, she is putting on a model’s attire, and getting rid of her agent’s attire, boots, and a side arm. Her efforts to look feminine (Kilbourne, 1999), however, fail dismally taking note of the position of the gun that represents cruel war as opposed to a soft-spoken mother. A mix in colors of her garments and a tough poise of an FBI agent still linger, ruining her transition to her desired role. Lack of coordination with the dressing code confused both masculine and feminine roles gives an impression of a tough yet seasoned female model.
Another visible fact about Sandra Bullock’s character is that she is very comfortable with her role. She does not seem the kind of woman who would back off in a tough situation and neither does she look like someone who could actually use her gun to shoot and kill a criminal.
The model is sending a message that she trusts her gender to do her work regardless of social challenges (Kilbourne, 1999). Her determination to fit into a feminine role is in solidarity with feminists’ main concept of being in charge of everything in life (Jhally, 1990). The photo advert reveals that the model is a classical representation of a beautiful woman who is ready to be a mother, a woman and a fabulous woman (Breazeale, 1994) as well as a beautiful FBI agent.
We cannot describe the picture as perfect; there is mismatching of the different pieces of cloth resulting in uncoordinated fashion. Mixing of both masculine and feminine worlds in one individual as a role model is evident in the advert. The subject is confused from her truer self-image according to which she would like the world to know what she does instead of whom she actually is as an individual. Digital makeup tactics come in handy in manipulating the pictorial representation of the model judging from the shining quality of the advert photograph. The film advert is a full portrait and not a close-up; therefore, her use of make-up is not very evident. Many pictures of women found in magazine or television commercials have extensive make-up whenever advertisers use a close-up portrait presenting the advertisement (Kilbourne, 1999).
The theme of beauty in the advert
The film, Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous, is the main product covered in the advertisement featuring Sandra Bullock. According to the advert intentions, Sandra Bullock is the stereotypical woman representing ideal feminine perfection and beauty (Kilbourne, 1999). She possesses a clear rejuvenated skin and beautiful hair that is characteristic of a carefree modern woman living her dream in total satisfaction. The impression that Sandra Bullock is an independent female is evident from the fact that she is an FBI agent. Women have overcome the social dogmatic principles that hindered women from taking jobs associated with crime (Kilbourne, 1999). Therefore, Bullock stands out as a protector of her society, a job reserved for men only (Jhally, 1990). Indeed, the advert insists that women can take up positions in any male reserved category since the woman of today is empowered to overcome weaknesses associated with female sex. Nevertheless, beauty makes a woman (Kilbourne, 1999). Consequently, in the advert beauty and power go hand in hand though physical looks are sometimes divorced from intelligence (Kilbourne, 1999). The advert lacks the ability to illustrate the character, intelligence, morality, and reality about the model and saves the stereotypical guise of a feminist taking on the hardest masculine job.
A woman in tough situation and enjoying it
According to Breazeale (1994), modern womanhood, which exploits men’s willingness to relinquish traditional roles is seen by some as out of control, a case comparable to Miss Congeniality 2: Armed and Fabulous. Sandra Bullock stands out as a hilarious feminine role model working out as a federal agent, expecting to embrace masculine challenges of fighting crime. Though Sandra Bullock finds it difficult to fit into her new role, her gleaming face is a testimony of her will to succeed. She has to fit in the complex, vast and dynamic world of women’s fashion, yet she must run after the criminals, alongside trying to stay beautiful at all times. That is why Sandra Bullock is trying to get into high heels and ballet dance costumes in order to maintain her feminism (Kilbourne, 1999) while trying to lose her masculine self personified in heavy military boots and the gun of a federal agent on her thigh. This act is inconsistent from that advocated by mainstream media, which focuses its advertising not on pleasing the woman as much as the man watching it (Breazeale, 1994).
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