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Advertising for Real Women or Real Profit?

Staff Writer

Published: Friday, February 28, 2014

Updated: Friday, February 28, 2014 13:02


   Throughout my years here at Holy Cross, I have sat through numerous courses which have consistently blamed the media for the insecurities and body issues of young girls and women. If you are not a Women’s and Gender Studies concentrator, like me, and haven’t had the opportunity to take courses that address this issue, all you have to do is search “killing me softly 4 documentary” on YouTube and you’ll be brought up to speed. However, chances are that you’re already aware of this problem and do not need the sociological point of view. So, I’ll get right into the issue at hand. 

   The latest marketing strategy for clothing companies, such as Aerie and Free People, has been to have campaigns that display “real” women wearing their product. These campaigns are meant to be relatable to everyday women, who make up the majority of the demographic buying the clothes. With these campaigns, young girls and women are supposed to be able see a model that resembles them and their body type on the store’s website and within magazine ads—as opposed to the usual 6-foot model who weighs approximately 103 lbs. 

   In theory, this pitch sounds like a great idea. However, when I took a look at the “real” models of these campaigns, they seemed to be models I usually see in the media (I mean, Jasmine Sanders was a part of the Aerie campaign...need I say more? If you don’t know who she is, Google her)— and ok, there were 2 models who were considered “plus-sized” for the modeling industry (but in reality, there is nothing plus-sized about them). 

    The photos of these models were considered to be ‘real’ because they were un-airbrushed and featured models of various body types. With that being said, these models had no real imperfections like cellulite or stretch marks, their “flaws” that were not retouched consisted of tattoos and beauty marks. As far as the body types, I did not think they varied vastly; they just happened to book some models that were a size 6 or 8 instead of a size 2. 

   Overall, when thinking about these kinds of campaigns, I have to ask myself: are these companies really trying to empower “real” women, or is this just another lucrative advertising strategy?  

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