Submitted by Kate Kaczor, Dietetic Intern
Like it or not, we are surrounded by the media. We pass billboard after billboard when driving along the highway, watch what can seem like never-ending commercials between our favorite television programming, and read more advertisements than articles from magazines such as Glamour and Vogue. All these advertisements have a common primary goal: profit. Companies do whatever they can to woo you in and get you to invest in their product. In doing this, they send out many more messages in addition to ‘buy our product.’ Often, these messages amplify the importance of physical appearance and these messages tend to stick with us whether we purchase the advertised product or not.
An ad for Axe Hair Gel takes some of these stereotypical messages to a new level. The commercial reduces the female in the story to disembodied breasts and the male in the story to an unruly tuft of hair. The storyline goes something like this: the male, with his unattractive hairdo, has a seemingly depressing life, his coworkers exclude him, the bus door slams in his face on a raining day, and the woman (the disembodied breasts) won’t give him the time of day. At the end of the commercial the tuft is transformed into an attractive gentleman with great hair (from the use of the Axe gel) and the set of breasts morphs into a full woman who now accepts the man’s romantic advances. The commercial ends with the phrase, “Hair. It’s What Girls See First,” implying that if one uses their product they too will have success in life.
This commercial reinforces messages telling people that appearance is a crucial factor in one’s success and happiness. From this commercial, consumers may feel that making changes to their appearance is the key to doing this. Additionally, placing such an emphasis on this can have detrimental effects on a teenage male and likely contributes to the increasing number of males with eating disorders.