There have been great developments in the media from the beginning of this century, but the changes observed during the last few years have been more rapid. The rapid advancement in information technology has made it possible for progress from telegraph to radio, newspapers, magazines, televisions and currently the internet (Tripoli & Sobczak, 2010). Like all tools used by man, advertisement can either serve the good of society or evil purposes. Free and independent advertisement makes the society to think and reflect on issues affecting it. Therefore, each person is empowered to reflect on issues openly. However, in many cases the advertisement has been used for negative purposes. Advertisement at times manipulates the truth by exaggerating or diminishing facts. Manipulation of the massages sent in advertisements is intended to achieve some hidden agenda.
Consider a woman who learns what the features of a perfect woman should be from the advertisements in magazines. She believes that this is gospel truth. Will she decide to try to have such features? The answer may be either yes or no. Take into consideration the first option that she can decide to exercise, go on diet or cosmetic surgery in order to have such features. Does it mean that she will be perfect after such an exercise, the answer is no. However, manufacturers of cosmetic products, manufacturers of exercise equipment and product and those who sell diet products will have benefited greatly. Through this perspective, we can argue that magazines present the public with a false image to achieve a hidden agenda. This illustration portrays that views of groups or a section of society can be corrupted to achieve financial benefits. The public should be kept knowledgeable especially about such lies. This enables readers of magazines to be more critical about the information they obtain from these sources.
Magazine advertising are ads placed in various publications. Magazine advertisements are so important because they can make or break any publication (Luther, 2001). Advertisement through the media has the capacity to reach a wide variety of audience. The society today has become so dependant on the information it receives via these sources. All areas of life such as how we work, health care, education, our relationships are influence by the media. Introduction Information technology has revolutionized most aspects of life. Information has altered significantly areas such as entertainment, commerce, medicine and employment. Information is affecting both positively and negatively the daily lives of all humanity. Information and communication technology (ICT) has transformed relationships, family, community lives, careers and education, freedom and democracy (Luther, 2001).
Many industries have woken up to the new concept of magazine advertisement. Both goods and services are wide advertised in magazines today. Strategic marketing of products has increased sales of items rapidly. Companies that are advertising particularly in women magazines and applying the right marketing concepts have reaped huge benefits. The benefits range from increased sales to easy gaining popularity in the market. Companies have employed marketing mix such as sales strategies in advertising their products in magazines. The magazines have created a platform for dissemination of new ideas. Companies are benefiting by easily communicating with their customers. Marketing scholars have also joined this industry and are assisting companies to reach even greater number of the customers through advertisement. Their advice is that companies should use the perfect image of a woman to lure more customers. Companies that advertise in magazines should expect dual or triple growth rates in the near future because there is always an increase in the number of people reading the magazine.
Magazine advertisement sends unhealthy signals to young women. Magazine advertisements have glorified younger, taller and thinner women to be epitome of a success and happiness in young women. Women’s magazines portray such women as being in perfect marriages, enjoying great sex and having rewarding careers (Goldratt & Cox, 1992). It is not an accident that all women magazines promote thinness as a criterion for beauty. It is also not accidental that all companies that sell cosmetic products up hold the images of younger girls as successful in all areas of life. They impose these as the standards of beauty in the society today. These advertisements are intended to exploit the women financially. By presenting this hard to achieve and maintain image as the perfect young women, cosmetic industries are assured of growth. The diet product industry knows that through these advertisements they will continue to enjoy profits each year. in fact, aging which is inevitable since it is a natural process is termed by these magazines as a disaster. they say that aging is actually a disaster that each young women should deal with. Why should advertising companies be so concerned with the images of women this much? The reason behind this craze is that the stakes are high. Companies know that women are insecure about their bodies and will do anything to look like the modern successful young women portrayed in these magazines. They will purchase beauty products, diet aides and any other product that will ensure that they attain this imposed image. “The Quebec Action Network for Women’s Health” in its 2001 reports an estimation of $ 50 to $ 100 billion on diet industry alone. The same report shows that up to 90% of women, who actually lose weight, regain the lost weight within a year (Goldratt & Cox, 1992). To these companies, it is business as usual. They do not care whether one losses or gains weight, the important aspect to them is profit making. Their products will remain in the market and they will continue to reap growth in profits annually.
The influence of magazine advertisement on young women is profound. At times, it is so skillful and silent that we fail to realize its effect on their beliefs, habits, thought process and moods. On daily basis, they receive information through the magazine advertisements. They learn about appropriate clothes to put on, decide what is valuable and what is not and defines beauty and so on. Magazine advertisements have affected social life of young women in many ways. The advertisements in magazines affect lives and cause health problems, insecurity in the young women and low self-esteem. Recent studies show that these advertisements are a leading cause of health challenges in women. Magazines influence the young women through the amount of information conveyed through it. Imaginary thoughts and a way of thinking are injected in the minds of the young women causing them to behave in a certain way. Magazines not only affect the young women, they affect the society as large. We can therefore conclude that they can easily manipulate the public opinion.
However, the negative effects that these advertisements have n the young women are immeasurable. The promotion of thin young female bodies as the peak of success for all women causes depression, lack of self-esteem and development of unhealthy feeding habits in young women. Young women use unhealthy weight control methods such as fasting, laxative abuse, missing meals, too much exercise, and self-induced vomiting. The pressures from beauty magazines are affecting young women immensely. Research by “Marika Tiggemann and Levina Clark” in 2006 showed that over 50% of young women are dissatisfied with their bodies. over 80 % of those dissatisfied know about the concepts of dieting (Carruthers, 1999). These concepts are mostly obtained from diet magazines. Since these young women wish to be thinner like the images they see in these magazines, approximately 35% have attempted dieting at least once. Teen magazine reports that a third of young women with normal weight believe that they are overweight. The overall research thus commented that 90 % of young women are not satisfied with their appearances (Carruthers, 1999).
The images promoted by magazine advertisements as presenting female beauty are unattainable. Only a small proportion of young women can attain the required thinness, tallness and beauty portrayed in most advertisements. A computer model generated by researchers proved that the back of such a woman would crumple under the weight of her upper body. The body of such a thin woman would be so narrow that it cannot contain the liver or the bowel. This means that if a woman had such a body, she would die from malnutrition. The tragedy is that over 90% of young woman desire such a body. Those who attempt to acquire it suffer devastating health consequences. In 2006, research showed that approximately 450,000 women from Canada were suffering from eating disorder (Paulson, 2010).
The culture of thinness “perfect image”
It has been proved through research that women magazine s have ten times more advertisements and articles which advocate weight loss compared to men magazine. Seventy five percent of covers of women magazines have a massage of how a woman can change her body appearance. The magazines promote three ways of changing ones bodily appearance; these include dieting, exercise and cosmetic surgery (Maxwell, 2003). The images of women portrayed in these magazines are underweight.
Efforts in the magazine industry to reverse this trend have bore no fruits. Quebec magazine has tried to include fuller women in their fashion pages while others only have models who are 25 years of age in these pages. However, thin woman advertisements still carry the day. The models portrayed in most magazines weigh 8 % less than average women (Paulson, 2010). Advertisers argue that thin models tend to sell products. “New woman” a magazine in Australia featured a heavyset woman on its cover page; readers praised the move while advertisers complained bitterly. The magazine was force to return to pictures of thin models in its covers. With reference to this incident, advertising age international commented, “made clear the influence wielded by advertisers who remain convinced that only thin models spur the sales of beauty products.”
The media should be truthful in telling the society about issues affecting it. It is therefore logical to first assess the integrity of advertisements in magazines before promoting the process. The young women are at the mercy of the media, which includes the internet, TV, radio, Print and many others in informing them about events taking place in the society. For instance, inadequate knowledge of negative issues associated with one trying to achieve the perfection promoted in magazines is causing health problems. The magazines may not be intentionally planning to restrict the public’s knowledge of the negative side of the “perfect image”, however, since there are factors that supersede their interest in such coverage like profit making, they do it (Masters, 2004).
Since there are too much negative issues around advertisements in magazines, it is high time for everyone who is affected to do something. Regardless of the nature or size of the action taken to make things right, there can be a great change. If every one can join hands and decide to do the right thing. Magazine advertisements can be used for betterment of the society. Stakeholders like the companies, which can greatly influence information in the public domain, should play a bigger role in this. The government should also do something to inform the public of both the positive and negative aspects of magazine advertisement. The fight against negative aspects associated with advertisements in the magazines must proceed until a solution is achieved. Magazine editors are becoming more aware of not only the negative effects of the “perfect image” (Koch, 1998). They should take precautions to prevent the effects from hurting young women.