One of the main points of our advertising unit is for the kids to start looking critically at the persuasive media that fills their lives. We try to look at not only the difference between food featured in advertisements and their real counterparts, but also what goes into making delicious food featured in ads so mouth watering. We go beyond food too. For example, what goes into making that model so radiant. That is about as far as I push it though, for a lot of reasons. Not the least of which is that we may just not be developmentally ready.
What I don't do is give this TED talk by Cameron Russell.
Here are some of Cameron’s major points:
- She’s a model because she won a genetic lottery and she’s the recipient of a legacy.
- The “Legacy” portion of the above statement is that we have been programmed to find slender, tall, white females attractive. This is supported by statistics in the industry. In 2007, of the 677 professional models, only 27 of them (or less than 4%) are non-white.
- Saying you want to be a model when you grow up is akin to saying that you want to find a box of money when you grow up. It’s great, but it’s not a career goal and you have no control over it.
- Photo-shopping ads is only a small component of packaging advertisements. Ad pictures aren’t pictures of her, Cameron Russell. They are constructions from the professionals around her; hair stylists, programmers, make up artists, and all of their assistants.
- As a model, white privilege is taken to the extreme. She gets free things for how she looks and not who she is. There are many more people paying a cost for how they look and not who they are. Racial profiling is prolific in law enforcement.
- She recognizes that her career creates an illusion that permeates through teenage girls and their insecurities. But once you become a model, that insecurity doesn’t stop. It becomes amplified.