In Response to Impossible Beauty Standards

My husband disagrees with my position in my previous post. He works and travels in advertising circles and doesn't think that I can say big business and marketers are responsible for the world's impossible beauty standards. He equates this with pointing my finger at something that really isn't the problem. He believes that the real issue is low self-esteem and insecurity among women...

While I agree the issue is complex, big business still bears some responsibility.

In his view, advertisers and marketers are using a vehicle/formula (read: model/particular physical attributes) to get their message out and sell their products. And when the chosen vehicle is successful, it is used again and again. He believes there is no conspiracy; these people are just doing their jobs.

I smiled when he said this because I immediately saw the solution. He did agree with me that women are targeted much more often than men are for health and beauty products and clothing. After all, a woman's appearance is always in the spotlight. No disagreement there. I also said that after years of seeing skinny models, our idea of a normal body weight is skewed, so it should come as no surprise that women might be insecure about their bodies. In other words, the insecurity and low self-esteem issues my husband raised could well be the result, not the cause of the problem. We aren't taking about a few ads here, we're taking about thousands upon thousands of hours of ads telling us, and our daughters, that we are just not the norm.

Anyway, his point was made. Advertisers use what successfully sells the products of the companies they're representing.

Solution...make their ad campaigns unsuccessful. Vote with your purchases.


Anonymous | March 13, 2009 at 11:18 AM

First of all I want to say, I love your blog! You really talk about interesting issues in an interesting manner :).

I also read Outliers: the Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell and was shocked at the fact he didn't give any credit to the other sex. But then again, men's egos.

I really think that as women we should support each other, whether it's through our blogs or info sharing. The time when men, like Gladwell, will recognize our contributions is not coming anytime soon.

And especially moms, like us, need all the support we can get, since motherhood isn't looked at by society as a difficult task, just part of our biological being, if you will.

I was so inspired by this that I joined a really cool Canadian site called And you can post helpful venues and services to help other moms in your area. I also loved their articles on, where they help make moms lives easier and not just dish out parenting tips.

Thank you for this blog,

Heather | March 17, 2009 at 9:37 PM

You are so welcome, and thanks so much for the encouraging words.

Amanda | April 20, 2009 at 9:11 PM

I wish there was a way for me to send you a screen shot of an advertisement I saw. It was for the lip plumping things... The top of the picture said "Still sexy without plump lips?" Then it showed a picture of a woman with plump lips and another picture of the same woman with thin lips. Then below the pictures it said (directly quoted) "Thin lips are ugly on anyone."

With all respect intended, I believe your husband is wrong. Advertisements are telling us, often straight out, that we are ugly if we do not look a certain way. I'll post some of the things I've seen on my blog if you want to see them.

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