L’Oréal: Beauty for All.

Beauty for All, is an advertisement made by L’Oreal, promoting that everyone has a chance to be beautiful and L’Oreal will be the aid for low confident individuals to be beautiful. However, what is beauty and what defines a person to be beautiful? Will someone look in the mirror after using L’Oreal products and suddenly gain loads of self-confidence?

Beauty is for everyone and it is hegemonic in daily life. Media takes a huge part in defining what beauty is and it is problematic since majority of the people believe that beauty is based on an individual’s outer appearance. Big eyes, high nose, small face, clean skin without any scars or blemishes, white toned skin and skinny. This is probably how majority of the people defines women who are ‘beautiful’. (I believe that the word ‘beautiful’ has its own femininity attached to the meaning of the word. It is highly unlikely to call a masculine men ‘beautiful’. Therefore, I am going to pass explaining what society defines beauty in men). Some people who do not meet the standard points of beauty goes through plastic surgery, diet products and many more aids to push themselves it into line of beauty constructed by our society. Furthermore, there are TV programs such as The Swans, which shows criticism publicly on individual’s appearance before the surgery and praising after the surgery. The term beauty is slowly becoming another adjective to describe only the outer appearance.

I believe it is the same deal for beauty as it is for gender, gender is constructed by the society and majority of the people tries to fit their child or themselves into these two unchangeable boxes. Similar for beauty, there are set boxes for what society think is beautiful, and many people try hard to fit themselves into these boxes regardless of their gender, race or their identity. This is a little problematic because our standard beauty is rooted from a western popular culture and media. Regardless of their race, majority of the people tries to change themselves in order to look like a beautiful Caucasian women. Everyone should realize that everyone is beautiful just the way they are. To show another point of view, Dove produced a similar advertisement to promote that women usually have lower self-perception than who they truly are. Dove’s Real Beauty Sketches, is a similar advertisement to promote and boost women’s self-perception by sketching what women think of themselves and what others thinks of that women.

But why is beauty so influential in our daily lives? It is hard to say that beauty is not a big part of opportunities offered in life. It is true that people are given different chances and opportunities depending on how they look and how they are reflected on other’s perception. That is probably the crucial part why individuals cannot give up being beautiful to someone’s eyes. People define themselves as ugly or have lower self-perception just because they don’t fit into the standard what our society has set us in. But I believe that both companies, L’Oreal and Dove is trying to tell us that everyone is beautiful and there is no need for us to fit ourselves into the boxes that society has set for us.

Overall, L’Oreal did a great job delivering the overall message, but it is true that they haven’t taken other confounding variables into consideration. L’Oreal presented an advertisement titled Beauty for All, however, after I saw this advertisement, I wondered, is L’Oreal really offering beauty for all the individuals? My answer is no. L’Oreal presented an advertisement featuring varieties of ethnicity and age but that was all. If L’Oreal hoped to target ‘all’ the customers in our society, the advertisements should have considered many different factors that makes up beauty, such as different gender identities, more varieties of race, different types bodies and faces.

 

In conclusion, I believe that although beauty is a powerful factor in life and society, it should not be the hegemonic factor when it comes to interacting with other people. Dove advertisement was just an extra piece that I found was more convincing than L’Oreal. I personally believe that L’Oreal should have modified their true message to one that is more applicable to many other identities around the world, because they say they are promoting ‘beauty for all’ but in the video, the people who were getting self-confidence from their product were people who pretty much met the standards of beauty in society. On the other hand, regardless of how people look in Dove’s advertisement, their true message is to boost their customer’s self-perception and confidence. Overall message of both advertisements are great, but it would’ve been more amazing and agreeable if L’Oreal could have considered more variables when it comes to their customers. Also, it would have boosted their qualities in message if they did not focus too much on the outer beauty of individuals.

 

 

Dove Real Beauty Sketches. Doveunitedstates, 2013. Web. 31 Mar 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=litXW91UauE&gt;.

Peter, Lindbergh, dir. Beauty for All. L, 2014. Web. 31 Mar 2014. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=McCUVz-5Ygc&gt;.

 

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Beauty: Defined by Race and Gender

Globalization refers to the intensified communication on information on a international scale.  The spread of information is increasing with the rise of industrialization, as phones, internet and varying degrees of social media are becoming more prominent in the social, economic, and even political structures of societies.  Globalization has made many achievements possible, including the sharing of cultures and the efficiency of communication.  However, globalization has also had its negative impacts on societies; the notion of Western superiority is emphasized due to stereotypes and Western control.  Western media is extremely influential because the media is mostly controlled by Western powers.  This notion of superiority continues in the media, in advertisements that display sexuality in ways that promote misconceptions and stereotypes about race and gender.

 

In a “Ponds” commercial, a boyfriend and a girlfriend end their relationship.  When the woman sees the man with another woman who has lighter skin than she, the commercial is sending the message that woman with darker skin are not as desirable as woman with white “Western” skin.  The commercial is an ad for Ponds skin cream that lightens skin and displayed in a way that makes whitening your skin look like the only probable solution in order to achieve love and total happiness.  There are many issues with this message.  To begin, it highlights the problems of “Orientalism”.  A term coined by Edward Said, Orientalism is the concept that constructs the Orient as exotic, mysterious, secret, uncivilized, and essentially a binary opposite to the West.  Said explains that there is a fetishization, a fixation of fascination, of anything associated with the Orient and that the East is consequently feminized in relation to the West.  This perception of Eastern woman becomes extremely problematic when companies, like “Ponds”, interested only in gaining profits with no acknowledgement of the social repercussions from their messages, make commercials that tie misconceptions of gender with misconceptions of race together.   The audience is left with the idea that in order for woman to be desirable they must change the way they look to fit the male standards of beauty.  Gender is emphasized here because it demonstrates how men are in control and women are to be used at men’s disposal. Woman must lighten their skin because that is what men like.   As well, race is emphasized as it displays white superiority by making women with darker skin feel the need to look more “Western”.   The consequences of displaying messages that use the interrelations of gender, race, and sexuality to sell products are impacting societies ever than before, seeing as globalization and the exposure to these images are increasing.

 

Furthermore, globalization has also managed to promote division.  The Western hegemonic perception of beauty creates a sense of “other”, that white woman and woman with dark skin are opposites.  Holding on to this idea, advertisement companies rely on the stereotypes that emerge from this “us versus them” construction to sell their products by using images and symbols that their targeted audience is familiar with.  This sense of “othering” is clearly demonstrated at the very end of the commercial when the women are passing each other, and with their faces side by side in the shot, the statement “to be continued…” comes up, encouraging a sense of hate and revenge between the two.  This cultural dynamic extends the legacy of colonialism, and that by using the social pressures of global capital and consumerism, colonialism and other forms of oppression continue because it “sells!”  Practices and attitudes of colonialism, what we think we have steered away from, had so much impact on the social, economic, and political structures of the world, that it continues to leak into societies today in ways that are more subliminal than imaginable because of the rise of technology and media. What kinds of messages are reinforced in society that we are unaware of?  In what ways are these messages blind to us?  Could it perhaps be Western privilege, in the sense that the West does not pay attention to these images because they do not experience these issues of gender and race that the world continues to link only to the East?  What does that say about how the world might see Western superiority? It’s terrifying to think what messages can be displayed in a 50-second commercial… the ones we are blind to, too.

White Beauty- Propaganda and Objectification

           As white Western society is so prominent in media all around the world today, it has widely become the desirable depiction of life. The glamorization of Hollywood, filled with thin, white, beautiful actresses and actors. The lives of these people, and the majority of those living in Western society reflects the privilege that we have. As explored by Peggy McIntosh in White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, it is clear that the privilege of white people existing in Western society is something that those living in different parts of the world strive for. McIntosh’s dissection of media and white privilege shows the objectification of those of other ethnicities, as she writes “I can turn on the television or open to the front page of the paper and see people of my race widely represented” (1988). Women all over the world dream about having white skin in order to fit into Western society and look like the people in Hollywood. Advertisements for skin lightening products are prevalent in Eastern societies, particularly India, promising to give women the skin of an American white woman.

            In this Ponds advertisement, we see a man leaving an Indian woman and supposedly breaking her heart. After 3 years apart, this woman sees a picture of this man and another woman on the cover of a magazine. This man’s new love interest is a white woman. One day she passes the couple on the street and is embarrassed by her darker complexion. The man stares at her in an objectifying way. The woman then sees an ad for a new Ponds product, called “Ponds White Beauty.” This product claims to lighten skin to a “radiant pinkish-white glow”.  After seeing the advertisement, the woman looks more confident and seems as if she is on a mission. The commercial ends with a “to be continued” message. This advertisement seems to claim that the only way for this woman to get her true love back is to lighten her skin to a white colour. She will then be viewed as beautiful and can win back the man. This propaganda tells women that the only definition of beauty includes white skin. Although highly racist, this claim is present in the minds of women all over the world. Skin lightening is a very popular trend in India, and the commercial for this product reinforces this idea of white beauty. While the advertisement doesn’t directly state it, the underlying message tells women that if they use this product, they will be beautiful like white women. If they don’t use this product, their men will leave them for white women. This sexual myth stating that women with darker complexions are undesirable to men seems to be the prominent factor pushing women into lightening their skin. All women want to feel beautiful and desirable, and advertisements like these spread messages that the only way to achieve that is to be white.

            It is interesting how women who are of darker complexions strive to be white, while white women strive to be different also. As seen in the television show The Swan, we see primarily white women going through multiple procedures in order to achieve what they consider to be beautiful. These women end up looking like totally different people, and commonly look fake. The sad reality of our society is that women never seem to be satisfied with the way that we look. It seems that if we are Indian, we wish to be whiter yet if we are white, we are still not happy with the way that we look and must go to great lengths to achieve our misconception of what beauty is.

           I am curious as to why all of this media is focused on women. As outlined in the Ponds advertisement, the woman strives to be white in order to gain the love of the man. And in the television show, The Swan, the women strive to be more sexually desirable. It seems that the objectification of women is so prominent in today’s society, whether it is in America or in India, while the objectification of men is seemingly non-existent. This Ponds product has a clear link between race, gender and sexuality. By portraying the Indian race as ugly, women are made to feel that they must be of a different race in order to be sexually desirable. This propaganda is degrading to all women of races other than white. Media should be making women feel beautiful in their own skin, not make them feel like they must change themselves in order to be desirable.

 

 

McIntosh, Peggy. White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. Wellesley: Wellesley College Center for Research on Women, 1988. White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming To See Correspondences through Work in Women’s Studies. Ser. 189. Web. 29 Mar. 2014. <http://amptoons.com/blog/files/mcintosh.html&gt;