Ad Critique: The Wrinkle-Free Woman

Sociological Images, a blog that explores social issues, recently featured promotional posters for the movie The Counselor.  In the ads, the facial wrinkles, scars, and stubble are highlighted on the male characters, perhaps to portray them as characters who have become gritty, tough, and wise as they aged.Image

The female characters, however, have flawless skin that radiates and glows.  No wrinkles, no scars, no bags under their eyes due to sleep deprivation or stress on the job.

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Lisa Wade, one of the authors of Sociological Images, gives the following critique of the difference:

The men are not considered unattractive by virtue of the fact that you can tell they have skin.  The women, in contrast, have faces that are so smooth that they look inhuman; their images are halfway between photograph and cartoon.  Amazingly, this treatment of images of men and women is so ubiquitous that it now looks more or less normal to us.

Airbrushing of women in ads, magazines, and other forms of media is nothing new.  The portrayal of male vs. female characters in these movie posters is rather egregious, and the post on Sociological Images definitely made me realize that the purpose for airbrushing goes way beyond just selling beauty products – it also perpetuates the idea that women need to stay wrinkle-free and youthful to be considered attractive.

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