Truth in advertising

There’s been a lot of talk about how unrealistic standards of beauty depicted in the media affect people, particularly women and girls. There’s plenty of evidence that people are affected by the images they see, and that men and women judge themselves and one another in part based on these images.

Reaction to this has included legal measures, including an Israeli law banning very thin models from advertising and a French law mandating warning labels on airbrushed photos.

This got me thinking: why isn’t there similar outrage over unrealistic standards of prosperity, power, and  happiness in the media? Most images in the media depict unrealistically wealthy, powerful, and contented people.

If laws are to be consistent, these unrealistic depictions must also be regulated, labeled, and curtailed. Take, for example, an advertisement for an expensive watch, car, or necklace. The warning label at the bottom might read:
Warning: the lifestyle depicted in this advertisement can be attained only by extreme luck, and placing money above humanity—sacrificing ideals like loyalty, friendship, fairness, and love.
The cost of this product could feed 1,400 starving children for a year. If the all of the present population of the world lived as extravagantly the person depicted in this ad, the resources of an estimated 10,000 Earths would be required. 
The happiness depicted above is an unattainable illusion—a carefully trained facsimile for which the model was handsomely rewarded. No true or lasting happiness accrues with the purchase of this product.
I welcome more truth like this in advertising.

No comments: