Advertisement and body image on campus


I’ve got a few body image issues. In previous years I’ve struggled with what felt like overpowering acne that spread across my cheeks, I have a little more weight than what I’d consider personally ideal and my teeth aren’t sparkling white. These characteristics aren’t my favorite, but I accept them because some of my dietary decisions cause my imperfections.

I say imperfections because there seems to a perfect body image: at least there’s one offered by a Coca-Cola advertisement located in front of Mabee, the POD and the Commons. According to the company, physical perfection appears to be characterized by smooth rosy skin, pearl white teeth and, of course, a slim body shape.

Ads selling an idea of perfection on campus seems surprising, but its even more surprising that their model of literally stated perfection happens to be presenting a bottle of Coke.

Perhaps I’m only dwelling on the ad because I’m jealous of her. In order to look more like she does I had to quit drinking soda. Throughout most of my childhood and adolescence I was an avid soda drinker, which may have contributed to my acne outbreaks. According to a blog post written by the founder of The UltraWellness Center, Dr. Mark Hyman, people who take in more sugar have significantly more acne. The advertisement’s model sure is lucky she has such clear skin despite her drink of choice.

Not only does she have uncommonly good skin for a soda consumer, she’s also avoided the weight gains commonly attributed with the drinks. It’s common knowledge that extra caloric intakes of sugar and carbohydrates are associated with a few extra pounds. How does our model avoid these gains? I wish I could ask.

Finally, there are her gorgeous teeth that shine bright as diamonds. To combat the discoloration caused by the caramels and dark compounds found in Coke, she must take the advice offered by Livestrong’s website on soda’s stains on teeth. Her Cokes are always enjoyed through a straw with sips followed by water and all cleaned away by a tooth brushing immediately following consumption. There’s no other way she would be able to maintain such pristine teeth.

Perhaps she only drinks Coke every once in a while? I’ve heard that everything is OK in moderation. Regardless of that statement’s validity, it seems that enjoying a substance apparently as addictive as cocaine in moderation would be challenging.

However, there’s the chance that our model has found a way to perfectly control the substance’s addictive qualities. Or maybe she hasn’t.

Maybe our model hasn’t done any of the things she would have to do in order to avoid soda’s detrimental impacts on health and beauty. If she even exists in the way she’s depicted, which is unlikely, then she certainly wouldn’t have stayed that way by drinking soda.

It frustrates me that our campus would allow this advertisement to be displayed. Its one of several ads for Coke and Dr. Pepper that were placed around campus this semester. This one is worth discussing because it perpetuates the standard ideal of beauty with the word “perfection” written above her while advertising a drink that works against all the features of that beauty.

Advertisements have strong impacts on the way people make choices while simultaneously impacting the way they view themselves and others around them. This ad suggests what’s perfect as far as personal image goes, which seems wrong. Standardized beauty is no new topic, but it seems new on our campus.

We live in a capitalist society that already constantly surrounds us with advertisements, do they really have to surround us on campus?