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Abstract

Advertising today has become the major driving force behind the various definitions of beauty. It is not “size-zero” models who are responsible for one version of female beauty, but models with skimpy clothes, fair skin, and bare midriffs who assume influential paradigmatic roles in society. Such practices become problematic for India as the standard of beauty appropriated by the media is highly westernized. With this background, the purpose of this study is to explore young girls’ perceptions of media pressure through the portrayal of ultra-thin beautiful models in Indian TV advertisements; and to discover the factors responsible for the internalization of media images by the women and girls. The article reports on a survey of 150 college women, sought for their perceptions of media pressure. This is followed by a theoretical discussion and content analysis of some of the prime time Indian TV advertisements. The analysis was based on the frequency of occurrence of those comprising certain ideals of female beauty. A majority of the respondents agreed that advertisements mostly portrayed young and beautiful models, and respondents felt pressurize by such models to look beautiful and maintain a perfect body shape, influencing their eating patterns and sometimes leading to low self-esteem. The authors hope to educate the advertising industry about the impact of their imagery on women’s self-integrity and to encourage women to think critically about how they internalize such images.

Note on the Author

Dr. Madhusmita Das completed her Ph.D. at the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Birla Institute of Technology & Science (BITS), Pilani. Her Ph.D. thesis is entitled "Portrayal of Women in Indian TV Advertisements". She has received First class Master degree and M.Phil, from Revenshaw College, Cuttack, Odisha. She is active in research and has authored book chapters, research papers in international and national journals and reviewed articles. She has served as the editor for the newsletter of the Centre for Women's' Studies for two years. Her research interest includes Advertisements and Gender issues.

Prof. Sangeeta Sharma is an Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Birla Institute of Technology & Science (BITS), Pilani, and is Coordinator for Centre for Women’s Studies. She did her PhD on ‘The Use of English in Advertising: A Study in Lexical and Syntactical Patterns’ from BITS, Pilani in 1996. Apart from advertising, her areas of interest include technical communication, linguistics, and Business communication. She is a licensed trainer for Springboard Development Program (U.K.), which is internationally recognized women’s development program. She has presented papers in various national and international conferences and talks at various platforms. Besides this she has authored various books and contributed in and edited various national and international journals and she has to her credit various publications as well.

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