Wednesday, 7 March 2012


Photo Source: Google Images
I worked on a paper titled The Portrayal of Women in Magazine Advertisements and it's been on my mind to share a few things about it here so here goes. Women (and men) come in an endless array of shapes and sizes, but one would never know it from looking at adverts. “Physically attractive” and “sexually desirable” is almost synonymous with “flawless” and “thin.” Men are usually portrayed with perfect six packs abs while women are shown as slender which is a stark contrast to the rounder curves of most women’s bodies. The current ‘beauty ideal’ smiles at us from the pages of Vogue or Glamour magazine. She is a seventeen-year old professional model, weighing just 120 pounds on a slim 5‘10” frame. Her teeth is pearly white, she has no wrinkles, blemishes or even pores. This flawlessness is, in fact, an illusion created by makeup artists, photographers and photo retouchers (Hello Photoshop).
Most of the images we see in the media have been nipped and tucked, trimmed and filled out, flattened and rounded, down to the last detail. In the end, we see a reflection of someone not even the model can claim as her own. Botox, fake tan, color contact lenses, hair extensions, boob jobs, the list is endless. The problem is, that standard is unattainable, even for those held up as examples. Each image is meticulously worked over: teeth and eyeballs are bleached white; blemishes, wrinkles, and stray hairs are airbrushed away. In some cases, a picture is actually a combination of body parts of several different models; a mouth from this one, arms from that one, and legs from a third. Since the media molds expectations, opinions, and attitudes; the audience of these adverts may accept the way women are depicted as reality.
It is one thing to live up to a certain standard and quite another to try to live up to somebody else’s fantasy. The overwhelming presence of media images of painfully thin and flawless women means that real women’s bodies have become invisible in the mass media. The real tragedy is that many women internalize these stereotypes, and judge themselves by the beauty industry’s standards that are too unrealistic in its flawlessness. As an adaptation to the physical demands of childbearing, women’s bodies typically have a fat content of around 25 percent, as opposed to 15 percent in men. Fattening, which in some African cultures is perceived to bring out the best in the African woman is almost a taboo. In the Eastern part of Nigeria, some tribes send bride-to-be’s to the “fattening room” before the wedding to make sure the bride looks well fed and healthy for her wedding. The world has however shrunk cultural borders with the rapid growth in social media where brands are sold worldwide. Global advertising campaigns that display ‘Beauty Myth’ type models are produced and the western ideal of beauty held up as evidence of beauty is the thin, long legged, long neck, long finger-nails, long free flowing hair (Brazilian anyone?)
It is disturbing that media images of female beauty are unattainable for all but a very small number of women (less than 5%) consequently; many women are dissatisfied with their seemingly imperfect selves when they compare their reality with the airbrushed perfection. It is really sad that are there sensitive/impressionable young girls with self esteem issues that are magnified significantly by the fake perfection that is shoved down our throats via airbrushed ads, magazines, catalogs, TV shows, movies, billboards, etc. The adverse consequences from feelings of insecurity and body dissatisfaction include eating disorders, low self esteem, unnecessary, expensive, and painful plastic surgery, depression and all can lead to death.

Thankfully, there have been some moves to buck this trend. There is a Dove Campaign for Real Beauty launched by Dove which was established to inspire and educate females about a wider definition of beauty. The Campaign Fund continues to create thought-provoking adverts and confidence-building programs that embrace all definitions of beauty. Tyra Banks’ also launched campaign called “So What?” to promote positive body images for women and eradicate low self-esteem. This was in response to a magazine article that called her “fat”. Thankfully, curvier/fuller figured celebrities and models like Tyra Banks, Eva Mendes, Octavia Spencer, Amber Rose, Heidi Klum, and Kim Kardashian, are being acknowledged for their beauty. Even Nigerian magazines such as Glam and Essence and Genevieve now feature various sizes of women.
You can work out to keep fit and maintain a good Body Mass Index (BMI) but please do not obsess. We may not have control over what and how the media decides to represent us, but we certainly have the power to change how we act. Until adverts depict women in more realistic ways, women will persistently measure themselves against non-existent and unattainable standards of beauty. And until we embrace reality, women will continue to seek commercial remedies for imaginary flaws. It is up to the women in particular and society at large, to think more critically when they look at that Victoria's Secret spread and less critically when they look in the mirror.

I would totally *cough* do prefer the before in the above picture than the after (i had to save the best for last hehe. You're welcome ladies). You can view some of the pictures here, herehere and here. Some of the changes i find unnecessary. Check out this Dove advert too.


  1. Its really unbelievable how much retouching is done before magazine shots or ads are published. Its an established standard no one can change unfortunately.

  2. There are no real people in magazines anymore. Even the people retouched and and airbrushed are most times far from what they look like in real life. The sad thing is that even knowing this, people still want to be like the magazine people.

  3. Lovely Post :) I dunno about this air brush thing, everything starts from within. Once you deal with what is inside of you, you would care less what society standard of beauty is and just focus on a better you which includes health. As for the magazines, no one looks like that and its just to sell the products aka marketing strategy.

  4. First of all, I love your new template.
    These pictures say a lot.
    As for me, I believe its not good to be too fat or too thin. Being healthy is what counts.
    Also, know your body and your genes, love it and carry yourself well. Then a high self-esteem will follow

  5. This is a serious issue that I usually have a thought about. we are being brainwashed to think that we aren't beautiful enough. thanks for sharing, I hope alot of girls get to know about this...

  6. i like the new blog look
    feeling comfortable is the key.....not caring what other people standards are, just living your life and loving yourself. Its amazing what photo-shop can do

  7. There are numerous youtube videos that show the transformation from a seemingly normal-looking girl to a photoshopped wonder. It's a bit sickening really, but like Okeoghene said, in spite of this knowledge, many women (me included sometimes) still strive for those standards.

    My own is - how is a poreless looking face appealing?!!?! How does the girl's face stay so perfect if she has no pores to let air in?! Nawa o

  8. If i were seeing you right now,would've given you a very huge hug.This post makes so much sense and the ladies,especially,should take it serious.Being a professional graphics designer,i know the magic Photoshop is capable of so i'm always skeptical about things i see.

  9. If I were a dude,seriously,I would be going for the rounder females,you know more cushion for the always wonder why my curvier friends always complain,I feel they are so lucky...

  10. I saw the Dove advert sometime back. It was shocking to see how many retouches were done on a once-pale skin to make it look flawless like a life-size doll. My mouth was agape.

    I guess with the influence of magazines and fashion shows, some ladies would starve themselves to the point of anorexia all in the name of looking great and fab like the models they see. It's a sad thing really. Me sef, I'm working on getting those curves in the right places and looking absolutely bootylicious. *winks*. Stick-thin is just not IT!!!

  11. See, me i don't mind touched up pictures oo. I see enough real life acne-fat-eczema around me that I don't mind the escapism of looking at 'perfect people'. I probably feel some sympathy for the celebrities cause they are the ones who have to live up to the image which has portrayed of them.

    That touched up picture does Tyrese no favours (that's Tyrese right?). His head now looks disproportionately bigger than his trunk lolss.

  12. What I have against the 'barbies' in magazines is the illusion that being slim to the point of anorexia is great fashion. I'm still trying to regain the curves on my body that went straight after falling sick and losing weight. I need them curves back ooo...*wailing*

  13. Magazines are the worst offenders, and since the advent of photoshop, it is now terrible. I hear the UK is now banning ads for being unrealistic, I say good on them.

  14. Hello,

    I am coming from Rhapsody's blog.

    Your post is very interesting and informative.

    As far as I am concerned we should be healthy and fit to do our daily chores without getting tired. So we should eat moderately, exercise moderately,sleep enough to maintain a fit body and mind. How we look is immaterial. But youngsters have their heroes and they try to imitate them.Therein lies the problem.

    I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the subject accompanied by interesting photos.

    Have a wonderful day,

  15. "no wonder our perception of beauty is distorted"
    If you was to ask an 8year old child what beauty is, you will realise the poison the media has implanted in them.
    we do need to embrace natural beauty more.
    but it is easier said than done, embracing our natural beauty when we are always bombarded with all this fake ideologies of what amount to beauty.
    But hopefully we all try and not let it get to us

    btw you just inspired a post for me, i will reference back to you

  16. everything on this post is so true! its deceptive really!

  17. Wonderful piece! The earlier people begin to realise that the poison the media feed them in the name of beauty is a mirage, the better they begin to appreciate themselves and have self confidence!

  18. Loving the new blog background.
    Now in terms of airbrushing and stuff I think it is something that will really injure some people because they would wanna look like what they see in the magazines regardless of the fact that it is all computer skills. Beauty comes from within so does perfection- once that is in place then a "I don't care what you think but I am beautiful in every single way" attitude definitely takes its rightful place. May God help us. oh and I thought they (Kim K and others) started a campaign against airbrush at somepoint??

  19. This is a very very serious issue. And I can't lie that these things to get to me sometimes but yeah it's all about self esteem issues. If you are fat trouble, if you are thin wahala, no breast wahala, I do breast implant now wahala, no ass trouble, I do implant still trouble from the same society making all these standards. Silly people would still call you to ask you if your nose is real or fake, like please!!
    How do u expect me to be skinny and still have boobs and ass to go with it, abeg park well jor
    The worst thing to do in life is doing something to conform to the standards of the society. We need to all learn to live by our own rules. The society is confused!!

    Oh and your new design is sooo chilled, I guess the tomato couldn't live too long.

  20. so love this post! *would read it again!* Can you believe a 9yr old gal refused to be eating her lunch at school, when her mother asked why? she said, it's becox she doesn't want to be fat! the mother had to cry out o!

    The media is to be blamed. Being healthy is the key word as @ilola said: eat and exercise.

  21. beautiful piece twinny,someone needs to sue some companies that tend to mislead people..The new template ROCKS!! ;-)

  22. I love this post. Its really sad how they raise unrealistic standard about celebrities. Unfortunatley that is what sells :(

  23. Nice theme firstly. Cool colours (y). It's sad that this is what is happening today and kids are looking up to this so-called models, thanks to the modern media. God help us.

  24. so true, even the one of people's nose being touched up to make it slimmer. I don tire for this how u de?

  25. True post.

    Any one that uses the media in whatever form to set a standard for him/her self has definitely set a wrong standard.

    Bless u sis!

  26. the only important thing as far as I am concerned is being confident in who you are, accepting yourself and loving yourself. In as much as we all need to be healthy, it doesn't necessary mean we have to kill ourselves.

  27. Originality is fast fading from our world today. Truth is, everyone is almost guilty of it these days, be it in our mannerisms, appearance, speech etc. Of course, some do it to the extreme however. I hope we all stop living a lie someday.

  28. "No wonder our perception of beauty is distorted"!

    It's crazy how we all know there's alot of photoshoping and retouching done to pictures on billboards and in magazines but we still let those images weigh us down.
    It takes the grace of God to be content in this deceptive, profit minded world.

    Thanks so much for sharing, i love your blog

  29. @SBC, it is just crazy.

    @Okeoghene, Exactly!

    @UG, thanx dear. Marketing strategy o

    @Atilola, thanx darl. Luv the template too. and i agree with "Being healthy is what counts"

    @Mr Nasir, missed u around here. I hope so too.

    @Lue, thanx girl. luving it too hi5!

    @Miss.Fab, lol@photoshopped wonder. It really is sickening. I used to enjoy looking @em pictures but now i just go "next"

    @9ja's Great, er well, i'll take the e-hug *grin*

    @Dee, honey, A very loud amen! u are preaching to the choir! I would like me some more *cough* junk in my *cough* trunk. I mean, have u seen Toolz?

    @Anon 20:46, *winking right back* hi5 sister! bootylicious is def more appealing

  30. @Ginger, i get what you mean but it's the extremism that worries me.
    I don't think that's Tyrese tho, looks more like Tyson Beckford but i'm not sure.

    @Odd9jaChic, pele jere. Keep working on getting on them curves back #wink

    @Myne, banning ads? Niceeee

    @Joseph, thanks for visiting and i totally agree that being fit is the most important thing. Heading over to yours in a bit.

    @Ms Nana, shay, i know it's easier said than done but we can try as much as possible. Glad i inspired you xoxo

    @Sisi Yemmie, thanx dear.

    @Emeka Amakeze, U'v said it well. thanx

    @MissyTee, thanx luv. I have no idea about them Kim K tho if they did, awesome.

    @Coy, i'm lmao @ ur response o. Soooo funny. So pple have asked if ur nose is real? *smh and snickering*

    @Simply Me, 9year old? this is exactly what i'm talking about. Kids internalising this ish is just lethal.

  31. @Didi, thanx twinny, luv the template too! Took me a while but i found it

    @Coy, i wasnt really feeling the tomato.

    @BNSC, yea. too sad particularly since advertiser basically dictate what's in or not.

    @Mike, thanx man. The media is just a mess. Taking the Agenda Setting duties to the extreme

    @Destiny-Yankeenaijachick+Success, e tire me too my sister. I'm fine dear.

    @Dayor, gbam!

    @Uzezi, i soo concur!

    @Geebee, you are very right and it's soo sad. Living a lie def sucks.

    @Dosh, thanx for stopping by. Love urs too and Amen to the prayers.

  32. I totally love this did well! Nowadays there are so make 'fake' things in the world, it's hard to detect. The world is turning to a place where it's hard to fit in because of all the standards been set for beauty. Beauty comes in all range, shapes and sizes. One just has to have enough confidence to be able to brush off all the negative things been seen and said.

    Thanks for sharing! :)

  33. @toin glad im not the only one who sees the media's projection as a pack of in...u need to see the way ppl, including teenagers ogle over these photoshopped pics and magazines ehn and u'll be like WTH!!
    i would like you to get your hands on Lisa bevere's kiss the girl and made them cry or Leslie Ludy's Set apart feminity or Authentic beauty. you will love it cos it explains a woman's past confession about her belief in the media and all that stuff. i guess since they've been thru lies that made them see how imperfect they were...
    and i guess hollywood is not even better..all these brad pitt, jenny aniston, angelina jolie, tom cruise, chris evans etc are not as **hot** and young as we think they are. these ppl re growing old for goodness sake like harrison and so the best thing is believing in yourself and believing what God says about you.
    nice upload!

  34. Really appreciate this wonderful post that you have provided for us. Great site and a great topic as well i really get amazed to read this. Clipping Path

  35. Physically attractive” and “sexually desirable” is almost synonymous with “flawless” and “thin.unfortunately i no dey that category but my bible tells me i am attractive LOL
    its good to read your work babe! long time! how are you?


Hit me nicely