Advertising Goes Au Naturale?


Amidst all the photoshopped complexions and digitally cinched-in waists, sits American Apparel with its all natural fashion ads. Simple, neutral colors and classic fashion statements are the usual themes that grace an American Apparel Ad. So when I picked up my weekly Austin Chronicle from the grocery store and noticed the simply-dressed American Apparel model on the front page, I noted it. How refreshing it is to see an advertisement that is far more relatable than most shiny, plastic looking air-brushed models. Seriously, every cover model I see is shiny with barbie-like flawless skin. You never see freckles or pores in magazines. Thats why its so extraordinary to see make-up free, fresh faced models. You can tell when its real!

Of course, photoshopped images have become a main topic and controversy in advertisements lately. Woman are objectified far more than is healthy for society. I think the main point that we must keep in mind as consumers, is that advertising has a reciprocal relationship with society. That is, any sort of images that are thrown at us are a direct result of advertisers studying us and giving us what we want. We want to see idealized women. We are fascinated by awe-inspiring beauty. As Rolling Stone magazine put it (on the topic of Kim Kardashian and breaking the internet), “Are we all pawns in her Pavlovian posterior experiment? Is her continued existence the punishment we, as a society, deserve? How much petroleum-based lubricant was spilled in futile attempts to cover her backside?” Anything that is thrown in our faces is because we asked for it. It is not a dumb concept to think of putting very beautiful, nearly flawless women as the cover models for our magazines and as spokespeople for our products – they get attention. It has worked for quite a while, I think that things are starting to take a change now, by popular request of course. People are realizing that this image of women is unreal and unattainable. We want to start seeing real women. Many campaigns have had success with this including Dove, and American Eagle.

We are not completely hopeless as a society and neither is the role of women in advertising. The way society works is that we take these tiny steps doing what we think is the best, or most efficient, or most profitable and then we take a step back and we look at what we’ve done and where we came from and we adjust accordingly. I think that is what is going on right now. Advertisers got a little too photoshop-happy, people are taking note of it and things will change for the better. I have an optimistic outlook.

Take, for example, the new Aerie campaign that is using completely un-photoshopped images. Their sales rose 30%. People love seeing the realness & I really hope this trend continues!

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