November 26, 2014
Critical Response: “Anti-aging skin”
The article “Age transcended: A semiotic and rhetorical analysis of the discourse of agelessness in North American anti-aging skin care advertisements” discusses the print advertisements for anti-aging skin care products. The concept of agelessness is a vision of perfection that everyone strives for, because in this society, no one wants to appear older than they look. Looking young and flawless is a need that society has established. The reading discusses advertisements and how they relate the ads in different ways to relate to potential users. They include elements of science, linguistic anchors, and nature. These characteristics of advertisement gimmicks create a connection between the ad and potential users of the product. By drawing potential users who want to look younger into the ad they must connect with them on some element. Science makes it difficult to disprove that a product won’t work. If something is scientifically proven, people drawn into facts will be drawn into a product facing a science category as a means for advertisement. Linguistic anchors include words such as “restore,” “amplify,” “stimulate,” “boost,” “rejuvenate,” to name a few draw people in because these are words that will draw them into a product. Of course this makes a good advertisement gimmick, who wouldn’t want to “rejuvenate” their skin.
The advertisements in this article under the science category feature two visual mechanisms. The first is unveiling. In unveiling the advertisement depicts a visual image where is an unveiling process that shows your skin removing a cover and appearing younger. It is like you are removing a mask of dead, old skin and showing the new, healthy skin after the use of the product it will show you looking younger and age-less. The second visual mechanism is science. No one can question the act of a scientifically proven advertisement because after all it has been proven, right? The uses of science in advertisements include DNA strings or cells somewhere in the advertisement. The use of science in ads shows the genetic effects of use of the product. It is implied that if you use this product your skin will transform through the ways of science and become age-reduced and younger.
The images in this reading are interesting because they make age reduction remedies look insane and crazy. The advertisements connected with anti-aging products to make users look younger use mechanisms for buyers to be drawn to believe the products work. The mechanisms use visual that include unveiling and science. The first image, from October 2009 from Allure: The beauty expert looks as if the girl is putting her face in a net. Seems crazy and less likely to work and I am unsure how it relates to the product but people will be drawn to the product because they want to look younger. The next image states to “rejuvenate your skin through your genes’ vital impulse.”
November 19, 2014
Response to “Age Transcended”
“Age transcended: A semiotic and rhetorical analysis of the discourse of agelessness in North American anti-aging skin care advertisements” by Kirsten L. Ellison presents a study of various products promising the reversal of aging in women and how the advertisements promote the effects of the products. When analyzed in this way, the manipulation of women becomes increasingly visible. For example, Ellison found that, “The overall connoted message of [one] particular advertisement reads that through heatlth, Vichy, and all that it now unifies, age can be fought, neutralized and 'true beauty' attained.” This is an awful message to be sending. In order to attain true beauty, one must use these product and change the appearance of their body. It would be nice to live in a world where aging was seen in a positive way; a world where crows feet and laugh lines were seen as evidence of a life lived, not something the must be erased at the first sign. I wish I could say that I have this mindset, but I have (almost) religiously been using skin care products since I was in my early teens. I have created a skin care regimen that includes at least six different products not including make-up. I can attest to the power that advertisements have over consumers. They prey on people's deepest insecurities in order to make money. This sounds, and maybe it is, evil, but that is the world we live in, and unless people start to stand up for themselves and challenge these advertisers, it will remain the same.
Ellison mentions that one company's slogan or message is “Health is Beautiful.” This advertisement, however, is only speaking to physical health, or even the appearance of physical health. It is completely leaving out emotional and mental health. While it can be argued that using these products and seeing results will improve self-esteem and, therefore, emotional health, the overwhelming pressure to look young and the messages that aging is ugly places a huge burden on women. This can lead to obsessions with “perfecting” the body, which explains the increase in plastic surgery, today. I was angered by Dr. Klatz statement about the aging processes, and how we are becoming “a society full of wrinkled, frail, disease-ridden, liver-spotted economic parasites” and that science is our only hope for salvation. Science is generally a good thing. The world has made enormous strides in the medical field that have helped millions of people, but his whole mindset is wrong. Older people are not parasites in society and I am furious that people believe this. Aging does not necessarily mean that a person will be sick and diseased. Many age gracefully and remain healthy throughout their lives, and there are some young people who fight illness from the time they are born. Society has become so obsessed with the “perfection” of the human body that any minor change or “flaw” must be fixed immediately or that person becomes unimportant and an outcast.
The final point I wanted to make about skin care advertisments is the models and computer programs that are used to enhance them. In most anti-aging advertisements that do not use celebrity endorsements use young models who have not seen the major effects of aging yet. They can not be any older than thirty. On top of their present youth and makeup, these images are photoshopped to remove any flaw that might be present, giving a perfectly smooth, uniform complexion. This is false advertisement, because nobody, not even the models themselves will ever look like that in real life. Even in stores, when advertising “dark spot correcting” skin care, they show a before and after picture in which the pigments are completely removed in the after picture; however, if you look closely, there is a asterik explaining that the pictures are a dramatization. Advertisers give women a false hope that they can achieve perfect skin, when in reality, the results will not provided them with the “perfection” they desire and are told they must have in order to be a respected member of society.
In societies such as Greece and Mexico, menopause is a gift. It is a natural signifier of a life lived to the fullest, good health, and wisdom. In first world countries, women dread menopause. It is a signifier of old age, infertility, and uselessness. The cultural differences are highlighted by the products mentioned in “Age transcended: A semiotic and rhetorical analysis of the discourse of agelessness in North American anti-aging skin care advertisements” by Kirsten L. Ellison. These products enforce the ideal that a person’s body must be changed in order to be beautiful.
In America alone there are hundreds of products promising the reversal of age. This isn’t a new phenomenon. For thousands of years people have been searching for the fountain of youth in order to fight back father time. Unlike modern times however, both men and women were questing for this fertile fountain. Now, products promising baby like skin and anti-aging serums are often aimed at women. Men are seen as wise if they have a little grey and their hair and a bit of wrinkle around their eyes. Women on the other hand only hear the ticking of the clock as soon as they feel the first flame of a hot flash. Our society is obsessed with youth, aging is the enemy. The well-known adage: “respect your elders” becomes shallow and meaningless when plastered from wall to wall the signs of aging have become the enemy. Old age has become a disease. Why be wise with age, when instead you can be beautiful with youth?
“Age transcended: A semiotic and rhetorical analysis of the discourse of agelessness in North American anti-aging skin care advertisements” by Kirsten L. Ellison brings up some very interesting points about aging and North America’s view’s of age and body image.
I was particularly intrigued by the connotations to science and nature that the ads portray in order to increase the consumer’s desire to purchase the product. Not only is it interesting because they are such a sharp contrast, but because the images in the ads are not always relevant. The example that is discussed in which a turtle is carrying the product on its back exemplifies that perfectly.
The amount of these aging ads has increased quite a bit, which is a testament to North America’s fixation on their physical appearance. As we talked about in class before, when a woman reaches a certain age, she becomes “worthless” to society. If a woman’s worth rests in her body then an aged woman is not worth much. When you’re young you’re beautiful and desirable, when you’re a little older you can be a mother, but when you get older than that what are you good for?
One claim about the validity of these anti-aging serums and creams really stood out to me: “Whether presented as ‘nothing short of miraculous’ or as part of a “simple equation,” the products in these advertisements are validated through the absence of a claim to legitimacy or authority. Four years later these themes continue to surface, with new products, new imagery, and new ‘weapons’ in the fight for transcendence. “ The fact that these companies advertise the lack of proof towards their usefulness is a bit concerning. There is no real evidence given in the ads but people eat them up and purchase their products anyway.
Responses to and thoughts about course readings