Sex Sells: The Art of Advertising

Essay by Neria04University, Bachelor'sA+, August 2008

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It is an expression that everyone knows and has heard countless times—sex sells—and the fact of the matter is, in our society it does. Unfortunately for women in this country, as well as around the world, many of the sexy images we see in magazines and on television are negative portrayals of women—women as vulnerable, women as submissive, and women as simply sex objects for men to play with. A nation that defines women in this way does not truly view females as equals to males, and as women’s self-esteem lowers from the images we see in advertisements, it makes it harder and harder to gain the confidence to fight back and insist for equality.

Women’s bodies have been used for years in advertising to market items. As the years have progressed, the use has been more and more demeaning and in recent years, bordered almost on the pornographic. Amazingly, this sells not only to men, but also quite well to women.

How it works for men is quite simple to puzzle out; Men associate the item with the sexy female that they see and they purchase the item because they like the woman, not because they care about the item. Women are also convinced to purchase items they don’t really need or want because of this type of advertising. The reason for this is somewhat more complex than simply liking the look of the women being displayed. These ads give women unrealistic ideas about the way their bodies should look. Then advertisers imply that by purchasing their products can “correct practically any defect, real or imagined” (Jacobsen). To further aggravate the situation, the feminine magazines that young girls flock to in hordes don’t help the situation. Instead of informing young women that this kind of advertising is wrong, they...