Ads destroy women’s sense of self-respect

Lauren Franklin

If you listen to the radio, watch TV, read billboards or skim magazine covers while waiting to check out at the grocery store, you might have seen or heard commercials for Ideal Image, Sona Medspa, Darque Tan or a slew of other businesses encouraging you to “Lose 10 Pounds!” or “Get a sexy bikini body!” On a daily basis, we are inundated with ways that we should make ourselves more desirable and attractive, and it makes me really angry.

These beauty ideals are not exclusively for women — men often feel pressured to have muscular, “manscaped” bodies. Yet for women, these ideals are not just suggestions but expectations. Think back to any and every “National Lampoon” or “American Pie” movie you’ve seen, in which the entirety of the premise involves a bunch of guys trying to “get laid.” When discussing possible female candidates, one guy will say, “What about Janice from homeroom? I think she has a crush on you,” to which the other will respond, “Janice with the toe hair?” and the shot will zoom in on some girl’s feet that have little hair-bushes growing out of the toes. As the audience, we get the understanding that Janice is highly undesirable to the point of being inadequate, and she is deemed so because she didn’t undertake any methods to remove her natural, human body hair.

Because of these types of images, both women and men now expect that women should undergo any number of procedures to “be ideal” and therefore desirable.  

In the case of laser hair removal, women get lasers — that feel like rubber bands slapping against skin — shot at their bodies so that they won’t grow hair anymore. This act is literally making women akin to plastic Barbie dolls with their smooth, hairless skin, and it is objectifying. Yet many women feel that this is a better, more economical choice for them because they would otherwise have to shave or wax. In other words, there is no “leave your body how it is” option.

It is perhaps most troubling that these sites for “ideal” body modification are geared mainly toward young women. On Top 40 radio stations, there is a commercial for one of these places every 10 minutes or less. Areas near college campuses are filled with stores and salons for every type of tanning, waxing, lasering and cycling imaginable for women who have hopes of achieving near-perfect bodies so that they can be considered attractive. Clearly, this business strategy is working, because the stores stay in business and the commercials stay on the radio.

Is constantly critiquing one’s body and, in the process, losing self-confidence and self-respect not a high price to pay to be considered attractive enough for a society with cruel and unattainable standards? The answer to this question should be obvious.  

On a last, and completely unrelated note, I want to thank the lovely Daily Texan staff and writers for making my semester of writing so enjoyable and those who read my columns for taking an interest in what I had to say. 

Franklin is a Plan II, linguistics and Middle Eastern languages and cultures senior from Sugar Land. This is her last column for the Texan before her graduation.