Monday, October 16, 2006

The Perception of Beauty

I like those Dove Beauty ads putting normal-sized women in front of the camera. So much of what we're shown as "beauty" features heroin-addicted pre-adolescents, it's refreshing to see real people every now and then on the screen.

I think most of us underestimate how much manipulation goes into the models shown in ads, as seen in this 60-second commercial about what goes into making a billboard, starting with an actual human model. So much of what we see in media images is more a painting of reality than reality itself.

What I do with super-heroes and science fiction action scenes, advertising companies do with real women and products. Each has about the same relation to reality, but because the latter is set in our familiar world, it is much more convincing. When you see a painting of a big ol' barbarian wielding a sword, surrounded by dragons and goblins, you know it's not real because it's in a fantastic setting. When you see a fashion model parading through the streets of New York in a magazine, you assume it's real because you're looking at a photograph. But as the video shows, in many ways that model is just as much of a fantasy as Conan ever was.

(Hat-tip to Matt Yglesias)


Anonymous said...

I love that video on this site. I admire the Oprah magazine and its real models for the same reason. We have Adobe Photoshop at work, and even I know how to make a lot of the "improvements" shown on this video. Unfortunately, young girls don't know that air models' photos are air brushed, elongated and "improved" so that nobody could possibly look like that. I had a first-hand impression of that when I looked at a teen-age girls' sports magazine. All the real sports heroes looked healthy. Unfortunately, when you put them next to the anorexic models, they looked fat. What do our young girls see? I'm going to forward this link to the Dove commercial to all my friends with teen-age daughters. But then again, maybe women my age need to look at it just the same. Thanks, Jeff. -- Denise

the lair of the Evil DM said...

That was really eye opening jeff.
Thanks for posting it.
I'll pass it along.
Jeff M