Fetishizing Women: Advertising in Indian Television and its Effects on Target Audiences
portrayal of women
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AbstractAdvertising today has become the major driving force behind the various definitions of beauty. It is not “size-zero” models who are responsible for one version of female beauty, but models with skimpy clothes, fair skin, and bare midriffs who assume influential paradigmatic roles in society. Such practices become problematic for India as the standard of beauty appropriated by the media is highly westernized. With this background, the purpose of this study is to explore young girls’ perceptions of media pressure through the portrayal of ultra-thin beautiful models in Indian TV advertisements; and to discover the factors responsible for the internalization of media images by the women and girls. The article reports on a survey of 150 college women, sought for their perceptions of media pressure. This is followed by a theoretical discussion and content analysis of some of the prime time Indian TV advertisements. The analysis was based on the frequency of occurrence of those comprising certain ideals of female beauty. A majority of the respondents agreed that advertisements mostly portrayed young and beautiful models, and respondents felt pressurize by such models to look beautiful and maintain a perfect body shape, influencing their eating patterns and sometimes leading to low self-esteem. The authors hope to educate the advertising industry about the impact of their imagery on women’s self-integrity and to encourage women to think critically about how they internalize such images.