This weekend, I was watching a movie on TV and was struck by how many commercials aired during the course of the film. I did some light research and discovered that approximately 24 minutes or 41 percent of an hour of TV programming is dedicated to advertising. This made me start thinking about the effect all these commercials may be having on our culture.
One of the few commercials I remember from my childhood was for colored contact lenses. At the time, I didn't know anything about contact lenses. What I did know was that most of the women in the commercial had brown eyes, but when they'd swipe a bath towel over their faces, their eyes would turn blue or green. The women seemed so happy to be free from their boring, brown eyes that they convinced me to spend countless time in the bathroom swiping a towel over my face.
This was probably 27 years ago. Think how much worse the effects of advertising, and any form of multimedia, may be now that our culture has become so open about altering appearances. I tried to find a study that provided research on how many beauty ads for botox-like products, eyelash lenghtening, hair weaves, weight loss pills, etc. air during an hour of TV programming, but was unsuccessful. I think it is safe to say, we are constantly bombarded with beauty standards.
Knowing the effects that all of this can have, should we be shocked when we hear about 7 year olds having plastic surgery or that plastic surgery in children has increased by 30 percent in the last decade? We've witnessed the evolution of our culture of change. We've stood by when people took it too far. Instead of talking about the phsycial and cultural dangers involved, we largely just gossiped and laughed about it.
The beauty industry isn't going to damage its bottom line by presenting itself differently or less frequently, so we have to decide when we've accepted and been subjected to enough. Do you think our culture can or will reach a beauty standard saturation point?
Update: Is this serendipity or what?? Since writing this post, I ran across this article Watching TV Can Lower Children's Self Esteem, Study Finds. It's a pretty good read and has links to other useful info.