The Corporate Voice: Responsibility Matters.

"In our factory, we make lipstick. In our advertising, we sell hope."
-Peter Nivio Zarlenga
The images we see in the media have the potential to change our self-perception and alter the way we feel about others and ourselves. Over the years, we have seen a drastic change in what our society perceives as beautiful and visually appealing. It’s not a coincidence that with the increase in advertisements and the exposure we have to them in our daily lives, many people have subconsciously heightened their expectations for beauty and what an individual must look like to be considered attractive. In the majority of advertisements, especially in magazines, the figures we see are of models that have been airbrushed to the point of perfection. This becomes problematic because what readers do not see. When creating these advertisements, a large amount of time and effort that has been made in order to make these images flawless through techniques like airbrushing, lighting, makeup and image editing.

What is the Corporate Voice?

When reading media images and understanding how advertisements affect us, it’s also important to observe large corporation’s responsibility in creating images that are realistic. Increasingly, companies fail to communicate the actions taken to perfect the images. Many large corporations, concerned with their own success, purposely choose what aspects to portray in their advertisements that potentially can increase sales. As David Croteau and William Hoynes describe in the book, Media Society: Industries, Images and Audiences, "The Corporate view has become 'our' view, the 'American' view, even though the interests of the corporate entities that own mass media are far from universal" (Croteau, 50). By manipulating images, corporations shape a lifestyle that convinces consumers that by purchasing their products they can achieve this ideal of beauty. “Advertising has been vilified for upholding—perhaps even creating—the emaciated standard of beauty by which girls are taught from childhood to judge the worth of their own bodies” (Hanson, 138). This is the notion of ‘corporate voice’ that consumers fail to recognize, but have a significant impact on the images seen in the media today. Companies have the power, money and ability to choose aspects of our culture to include in their advertisements, projecting messages to the readers that shape their opinions and beliefs.

How Does This Affect Me?

In a study done by Fiona Monro and Gail Huon, multiple participants were given various questionnaires regarding their own self-image and then shown twenty-four magazine advertisements, half featured with idealized figures and the other without. The results of this study proved that “exposure to idealized images led to increased body shame and appearance anxiety” (Huon, 89). The study emphasizes the significant impact that images in the media have on women, especially advertisements that feature models with thin, “ideal” bodies. “The media images appear realistic, despite their heavy editing and refining with computer software” (Huon, 85). In the competitive beauty industry, companies strive to sell the most of their products and accumulate profit, but this largely results in advertisements reflecting an unrealistic lifestyle to pressure readers to buy their products in order to fit the mold of beauty that dominates our culture.

Making a Change.
Though advertising is an industry that has existed for decades and will continue to grow in the future, action can be taken now to change our society's perception of beauty. This can be possible through awareness and communication that acknowledges the unrealistic ideal of beauty that is portrayed in advertisements and media images. Change will be possible through reaching the direct source of the problem, the advertisers. As Cynthia Hanson emphasizes:

"Advertisers should determined in their use beauty stimulates or manipulates consumers...this research and regulatory activity may show that the use of more accurate and representative portrayals of women in advertisements will help alleviate this problem, particularly for younger females who are struggling with new physical and psychological identities as women" (Hanson, 150).

By recognizing the negative effects of manipulated images on the public, change is possible. Corporations and advertisers must maintain a level of social responsibility that will influence consumers to buy their products in a way that does not exploit their self-esteem and body image. Phillipa Diedrichs, a psychologist from the University of Queensland, Australia, elaborates on the factors that will help to stimulate the process of change. "For anything to change, research has to be convincing, not just to government and health researchers, but also to people in advertising who actually make the decisions...we can change the images we see and still sell products but also make people feel better about themselves" (Alleyne). By spreading awareness and taking action to change the unrealistic ideologies in advertising, our society will begin to view themselves in a more positive way, and rethink their perception of beauty.