TOPICS : Featuring women in advertisement

Featuring female models in advertisement started with products like alcohol and adult entertainment. The trend then spread like a wildfire and is still in vogue. Now, it is almost a compulsion to use beautiful models in all kinds of advertisement. Many women’s rights activists complain that women are being projected as mere objects in such ads. But the harsh truth is that ads featuring women influence viewers of all ages. The beauty of the model lures the customer, so advertisers do not have to put in extra effort to motivate them.

But there are certain drawbacks to using women in some ads and if a consumer is smart, it won’t take him any time to spot the contradiction. It is irrelevant to feature a female model in an ad promoting men’s products. And due to the viewer’s concentration on the model, the main focus of ads, the product, gets overshadowed.

Advertisements are a convincing and motivating tool, which can leave a deep imprint on the mind of viewers and play a major role in moulding the culture and attitude of people. Expansive and extensive portraying of women merely reduces their image to objects of passion. Emphasis is only on physical beauty of woman. After a commercial has been shot, any kind of imperfection of the body can be altered using graphic technology, which in a way sends out the message that only perfect people are meant to use the product.

The companies have a moral responsibility. These commercials have a negative impact on the society and exacerbate women’s problems. For instance, the weight of a fashion model is 23% less than an ordinary woman. In effect, ordinary women are under pressure to achieve those near-perfect bodies. They adopt unhealthy ways to reach the goal of the perfect body. They develop eating disorders, their health is affected, which may result in irreparable damage. This results in depression and other long-term psychological diseases.

According to researchers, most women vow that commercials lower their self-confidence as they

visualise themselves as unattractive due to the image being portrayed of the perfect woman in ads. In America, 75% of healthy females think that they are over-weight; nearly ten million women suffer from serious eating disorders.

In Nepal, very few products are in a position to advertise. Mostly consumer products (cooking oil, rice), banks and few cosmetic items feature women models. This is not a time to make comparisons with other countries. We have very limited products. Nepali advertisers are now convinced about the importance of advertising, but they still lack comprehensive knowledge of model use.

It can be hoped that the new government is stable and advertisement volume and the areas they cover can be increased. In future, more TVC could be made. Here too, advertisers should keep in mind the cultural milieu they operate in and exercise good judgment in using women models in ads.

Dr Aryal Management teacher, TU