Posted by: zhak39 | October 15, 2009

Pretty is as pretty does

I meant to do this last week when the initial tempest steamed out of the teapot.  I’m glad that time got by me because yesterday new photos were published that add depth to the issue.

So as a teen and in my twenties I had issues.  Insecurity issues about my appearance.  I was by no means overweight but the evidence in the mirror proved nothing to me.  How we perceive the world is effected by how we are internally prepared to interpret the physical phenomena around us.

Lately there has been renewed concern about the images that are being portrayed about the human form, particularly the female human form.  This is not new.  I remember when Twiggy became the image for the ‘waif’ look.  Gaunt, skinny, childlike (after all, she was 16) the media soon became saturated with the starved looking little girl sex symbol.  For those of you that don’t hearken back to the day, this was the look that supplanted the sultry sirens of the 50s and early 60s.

The Face of 1966

The Face of 1966

What has changed is the ease with which images can be manipulated.  If a marketing company does not have a model that quite fits the image that it wishes to portray the photos can be ‘shopped’ to develop whatever suits their idea of attractive and salable.  Whether or not the result resembles our species is not a priority.  Here is an example.

Imagine her coming out of a human birth canal

Imagine her coming out of a human birth canal

This model, Filippa Hamilton, is not particularly pleased with what the marketers did to her image here.  Let me show you why.

The Real Fillippa Hamilton

Frankly, if I looked like this it would make me peeved that someone decided that crossing my genes with a preying mantis would be an improvement.  What is worse, at 5’10” and 120 pounds, Ralph Lauren fired her because she was too fat to fit into his clothes.

A lot of people that have objections to marketing do so because they see this as a ‘truth in advertising’ issue.  Let’s go back to Twiggy.  Recently, Oil of Olay renewed their contract with the now 59 year old model.  They are using her to advertise their anti-aging formula which she first represented when it came out in 1985.  Here is the face shot.

Advertisement featuring Twiggy, 2009

'Love the Skin you're in' ad, 2009

In this age of video camera corners and amateur paparazzi, it didn’t take long for a neighbor to come up with a candid shot of the model on her way to the grocery store.

Off to buy some cosmetics?

Off to buy some cosmetics?

The truth in advertising issue doesn’t resonate so much with me because I am a firm believer that there is no truth in advertising.  What does concern me is that somehow a very attractive 16 year old girl in 1979 did not love herself because she had a skewed understanding of what was worthwhile.  And I don’t see a lot of progress in that for the 16 year old boys and girls today.


  1. Not everyone was as beautiful as I was in high school. I recognized that. The others recognized it too.

    Self-image is everything to teenagers. Shoot, I think it’s everything to most adults too. I meet “grown-ups” all the time who are so self-absorbed that they can’t pass a store window without checking themselves out in it. It is as though the window is there as their mirror, and not as protection for the merchandise inside.

    My belief is that it’s human nature to be egocentric. It follows then that you are going to be hyper-self critical.

    In my view, you can’t obtain confidence, self-esteem and acceptance of your personal flaws from a magazine cover or a television commercial. Likewise, to me, you can’t blame your insecurity, low self-esteem and feelings of inadequacy with your body on a magazine cover or a television commercial. I have no panacea for those issues, but I think they boil to the surface from within, not without.

    I know I feel better when I am doing something that I excel at and ideally something at which I excel that is of benefit to other people.

  2. Same info, another source.

  3. I love the headlines in the Register. Thanks.

    The timing for this in Britain is good. Parliament began a process to ban distortion of women’s images in ads aimed at teenagers last August. I’m not sure where that legislation is currently but this does bring the concept into focus.

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