Skip Nav
Valentine's Day
Treat Yourself and Your Body With These Fitness Valentine's Gifts
Healthy Recipes
38 Healthy Party Appetizers to Celebrate the Super Bowl
Healthy Recipes
Eat This Valentine's Brunch For an Energizing Romp in the Hay Later

Killing Us Softly 4 Movie Trailer

Do Models in Ads Affect Your Body Image?

Magazines and TV ads have always emphasized that what's most important for a woman is how she looks, and that there's an "ideal" appearance we should all aspire to — tall, skinny, toned, big-breasted, with perfect skin, perfect hair, perfect everything. After constantly seeing the pencil-thin bodies that are expected from models, it can make real women feel that it's expected for them to be thin and flawless as well. What's ironic is that most of the images we see are unattainable, since airbrushing and photoshopping have become the norm. Even Cindy Crawford has been quoted saying, "I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford."

To document how genders are represented in advertising, Jean Kilbourne created a compelling series called Killing Us Softly. Check out the trailer for her latest documentary below.


After watching that clip, tell me, when you see women in ads, does it affect your self-confidence or body image?

Around The Web

POPSUGAR, the #1 independent media and technology company for women. Where more than 75 million women go for original, inspirational content that feeds their passions and interests.

Join The Conversation
Peggy2422758 Peggy2422758 3 years
I am grateful to see that there is a new "Killing Us Softly" documentary movie available.... and accessable on You-Tube.  However, it is unfortunate that our society continues to destroy itself in this manner & so many other destructive behaviors are seen as "Socially Acceptable".   I had the opportunity to watch the second or third series while in College working towards my AA in Psy.
ladylove004 ladylove004 5 years
I saw one of the older killing me softly documentaries in a sociology class, they are really great and unfortunately true... it's sad but I still somtimes do find myself wishing that I looked like the models, you can't help it when they are literally everywhere, esp. in NYC.
doogirl doogirl 5 years
This video has changed my life! I have two young daughters, and this has changed everything. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!
onlysourcherry onlysourcherry 5 years
This trailer was very interesting. I find the difference between Maxim/Victoria's Secret photoshopping and high fashion photoshopping to be astounding. The the first two, which are geared more toward men, the breasts are larger and the curves and larger, the women look more healthy. In the latter, geared towards women, the curves are eliminated and bones sticking out are not photoshopped out.
LeiraElle LeiraElle 5 years
I simply can't STAND the blame put on marketing and advertisements. Of course they're unrealistic; they're paid by corporations, not public health advocates. So much of self-esteem and body image relates to upbringing. My parents were far from physically ideal, but never once did I hear them complain about needing to be thinner. Even when I was an obese teenager (thankfully I am no longer either of those), the concern and the emphasis from my family was on health, not aesthetics. The result? As both an overweight adolescent and now an average adult, I have always compared my appearance to my own expectations, not anyone else's.
bryseana bryseana 5 years
Great post TADOW!
elramos elramos 5 years
Not anymore, probably the most when I was in high school. Now, not only do I understand it's unrealistic, but most of it is photoshopped. I can appreciate the pictures now as art, because they're definitely not reality. Girls who are saying they stay away from magazines because of the images, really look at those pictures and go outside, does anyone ever look like that? You'll probably run into 1 or 2 people out of hundreds who might actually look that good.
TADOW TADOW 5 years
Honestly, because there have historically been so few and limited images of African American women in the media and most companies overlook us, I feel disconnected from American advertising and I feel almost no relation to ads for "women". Therefore I feel no pressure from the media to be thin, perfect, sexy because none of those women looked like me when I was growing up. That is not to say however that I felt no pressure to be perfect based on my body from negative family members or the community at large. This is to say that the objectification of women permeates the entire culture and is not solely from the media. The media is only a symptom of how the world at large views women and how women allow themselves to be viewed. At the end of the day the responsibility is on "us" to emphatically renounce these viewpoints and opinions. Women don't do that enough. Too many women have the Madonna/Whore complex and want to be taken seriously and treated with respect but also want to be desired sexually and work very hard to achieve that desirability at the sacrifice of their integrity and independence. The women that pose in these pictures are case in point. If they didn't pose, who would there be to objectify? The media is not the boogeyman, we, as a society are. These media images are simply the visible "lump" of the insidious cancer that is the view that women are inferior, and women's refusal to emphatically renounce that presumption.
pss pss 5 years
I agree with sourcherry, I compare myself to normal women around me, women that I see in the streets. But I compare myself to real women that look similar to the models in magazine covers. I see them and I thought why cant I have bigger boobs or a prettiest hair, or why my nose isn't that cute and my eyes bluer. I feel bad when I see a fantastic woman in the supermarket, so perfect, I want to be like her.But it's not something that obsessed me, I feel bad just that moment and then I look the people by my side, who like me how I am, and I think that we have to be all different, if every woman in the world would look like these gods of beauty that would be so boring. But there is something that makes me feel worst and it's to read and hear everywhere that skinny women aren't real, and something wrong. I'm a very thin person, I'm European so I don't know what exactly size the zero is in US, but I wear a 34 here, I eat everything that I want, and I want to eat a lot, I love food and have no problem with it. I have cellulite and I work out to be toned, I care about my body and I would love to be a little bit fatter, but this is my body and I cant change it. So when I read that thin women are not real and healthy, I feel really bad. It's not ok to tell everyone that be thin is a bad thing, there are real people thin who are not anorexics. So the problem is not to be thin or not, the problem is not being healthy, and a small size doesn't necessarily involve an eating disorder.
amber512 amber512 5 years
They used to make me feel really bad, but not anymore. Especially because they do so much tweaking now that a lot of pictures look just plain weird!
sourcherry sourcherry 5 years
But I completely agree with Jean nonetheless. This heavy use of photoshop should simply be prohibited - it's completely irresponsible to publish images that show digitally created bodies and market them as real and desirable. Not to mention that it's an insult to our aesthetics sense - plastic skin and bobble heads do not look good, period.
sourcherry sourcherry 5 years
No. I mean, even if the pictures weren't airbrushed to death, they still have MODELS in them. You know, people who got incredibly lucky in the looks department and that look better than me for a living! It's not that I have a fantastic self-esteem or anything, it's just that I compare myself to regular women walking down the street, not to professional models in professional photoshoots. I know they're more attractive than me, and I'm totally ok with that.
livewell360 livewell360 5 years
I just wrote a blog post on this as well. I think that this trend is changing, and the obsession with size-0 is slowing getting less and less, yet I also believe that there are still a lot of women who are stuck in a somewhat vicious cycle of confusion. They read an article like this, and they say to themselves, "Yeah, that's right. I don't want to be a victim! I want this to stop." But then the very next article they decide to read is about how to lose 10 lbs in two weeks. I am exaggerating {slightly} here, but my point is - we, as individuals, have a choice. We have a choice in what we look at, listen to, etc and we have a choice as to whether or not we allow someone else to make us feel a certain way. We are only victims if we allow ourselves to become victims. So, personally, rather than looking at this video or magazines, or whatever and saying, "Why are THEY doing this to women... to me??" I say, "I choose to no longer allow this to affect me. I choose to appreciate my body as it is and to use fitness as something that helps me to achieve MY fittest, healthiest body, and not for a way to try to measure up to my perception of what someone else looks like." I think we absolutely have the ability to take our power back, because if we see ourselves as beautiful, then it doesn't matter what we see on billboards or in the media. And I think as more and more women make this choice to stop chasing the dream of looking like someone else, and start focusing on being healthy, happy, fit, and ok with who they are, then the cycle will fall away on its own.
bryseana bryseana 5 years
I really liked this video. I remember watching a biography about Naomi Campbell and she said her mother aspired to be a model too, but was rejected because she was black. And even though there are black models now, they still seem to be in low numbers. For example, there have only been two black women to grace the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit cover in the history of the magazine. They were both household names (Tyra and Beyonce). Did anyone know Marissa Miller, Bar Rafaeli and Brooklyn Decker before they were on the cover of Sports Illustrated? It just seems like an obvious form of discrimination.
insanitypepper insanitypepper 5 years
Knowing that it's not realistic doesn't keep me from wanting it.
Rock-Star125929 Rock-Star125929 5 years
Looking at perfect bodies/faces makes me feel bad too! And it bothers me that some men not only women, think that all women SHOULD look like that! And they think that it's real :S Advertising messed up the meaning of beauty, and made people always ask or want more. People are starting to never feel content with their own skin. I still don't feel content even though I lost 46 Lbs "I'm 132 Lbs now"! When I look at ads, models and actresses I feel like I didn't accomplish a lot! And want to lose more. It's confusing! Because I know it's all photoshoped!! Luckily, I have good friends who wake me up from this nightmare! :D So, if you feel bad about those ads*or anything else!*, speak up! and you'll get a lot of support :)
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 5 years
No. I'm comfortable in my own skin. Also, I regard ads as selling vehicles, and sometimes when they're artfully done, as art.
inlove23 inlove23 5 years
Just watch the trailer and it is crazy interesting!! I wanna see the whole thing now.
inlove23 inlove23 5 years
I used to feel bad about my self (especially when looking at Victoria Secret models), but I know I need to be happy in my own skin =)
Latest Fitness
X