Arguing the Impact of Physical Beauty on Our Lives, Essay Example
There are many different cultural beliefs on how physical beauty should be expressed in modern society. It was not until 1980 that men became public sexual figures through media and advertisement; however, the female figure have been objects of male desire and sources of advertising revenue for quite some time. The four readings imply the pros and cons of different advertising techniques as they relate to a particular inherent message being sent to the population through pictures or words. For instance, the Dove girls advertising campaign as well as Calvin Klein male models have sparked the interest of social discussion that surrounds the moral acceptability of such campaigns. Nevertheless, each author focuses on many different uses of pathos, ethos and logos throughout their articles that helps to persuade the reader or viewer of their work into agreeing with the specific argument on physical beauty in the lives of millions of Americans.
Within the text, pathos is described as the arguments from the heart, or arguments that tug on the reader or viewer and help persuade based on his or her emotions as they pertain to a particular subject. The topic of physical beauty is a highly discussed and vehemently debated topic among women. Many female talk show hosts promote or degrade advertisements that view women in a particular light. Current debate differs among individuals that suggest the thin, beautiful image of the typical model promotes the image that young girls are supposed to adhere to at all costs, and possibly reduces the amount of self-esteem they have. On the other hand, advertisements such as the Dove girls campaign is viewed as being against the societal norms and, according to Daum, invades the sanctity of the real woman and forces women to be reminded that they need professional models to “throw themselves in front of traffic so that we don’t have to” (620). Authors usually provide emotional examples that tug on the feelings that readers and viewers have for a particular issue. For instance, the image on page 630 of the text reveals many of the disgusting and immoral activities surrounding physical beauty that many women engage in to improve their looks. Liposuction and bone amputation are just two examples of Mikhaela Blake Reid’s message that women must think about their actions before they begin to change their physical appearance through medical reconstruction and alteration. Many people have very serious feelings on plastic surgery or physical alteration, and these images utilize pathos to promote Reid’s argument.
According to Trebay’s article, the many male advertising companies and underwear organizations have engaged in many different techniques to play on the emotions of the viewers of their images. For instance, Adam + Eve has begun to show male models in underwear advertising campaigns that are neither showing any words associated with underwear or the model is not wearing underwear at all. This, as Trebay describes, has never been seen before except for the adult film industry and more liberal advertising campaigns in Europe. In many cases these images effect an emotional response associated with the morals and ethics of individuals in today’s society. Every person that views the image on page 627 of the text promoting the Adam + Eve product would clearly have some form of emotional response. Some women may respond as men do for similar advertisements with scantily clad models of the opposite sex in having a sexual desire or physical attraction for the model. On the other hand, heterosexual men may view a naked male model as disgusting and highly controversial. Depending on the argument that the author is trying to propose, the use of pathos helps increase the heightened emotional response that individuals have for the issue of physical beauty. Similarly, the Dove girls advertising campaign images also enact a particular emotional response for the viewer. The authors of argumentative articles may use these images in association with their written works to help the reader engage those emotional responses to feel a stronger response to the argument. The impact of pathos can be a great deterrent or proponent factor for the author’s arguments, regardless of the content of the work.
Authors may also use the tools of ethos to promote their statements by promoting arguments based on character for proof of legitimacy and to define the author as an authoritative figure on the topic. Both Trebay and Daum utilized this technique by including multiple quotations from professionals and world-renowned commentators on the topic of physical beauty and attractiveness. These multiple quotations within both articles help legitimize the author’s point of view by showing the reader that they have well-respected opinions from industry professionals to help support the arguments. However, it is important to note that the mere appearance of quotations within an article does not necessary provide legitimacy to the author’s argument or help define the author as an authoritative figure. Daum begins her article by using blunt verbiage and statement such as “the rest of us” to denote her as an authority figure that represents the dissenting opinion of the Dove girls advertising campaign. She automatically places herself as the focal point and representative voice for the other side of the argument through these statements and phrases without ever showing how she specifically is an authority on the issue. In fact, her opinion could very easily be discarded among the public if it were not for the fact that the paragraph preceding her article in the textbook describes her brief biography and achievements within the media industry. Many authors make the mistake of assuming that because the written word has an opinion that may be validated by others, that they can take an authoritative position on the issue. This is not always the case, and the authors must attempt to use other rhetorical strategies to promote their argument.
Finally, the use of logos implies that arguments are based on facts and reason to support the claims of the author. In addition to the use of ethos, Trebay described male physical beauty within his article as a historical timeline. He begins through introducing male physical beauty with the emergence of Calvin Klein models in the early 1980s that were the first of their kind to show men as objects of affection and wearing nothing more than underwear. Trebay continues to emphasize the transformation of the advertising industry within this issue as it pertains to companies such as Adam + Eve and 2(x)ist. The evolution of Adam + Eve as a gay undergarment production company to a more mainstream acceptable organization helps validate the author’s argument. Trebay also uses examples of many major names within the underwear industry that have moved from well-known companies to play a large role in male underwear campaigns. The author attempts to utilize these factual examples as a means to promote that the argument is valid and correct. He explains the success and growth of the industry and questions the process that the industry had undergone to move from conservative to liberal advertising. Walker uses the research results of the Dove Corporation in explaining their reasoning for using the Dove girls campaign strategy. The results showed that women wanted a change in advertising strategy and were no longer interested in viewing skinny, airbrushed models that were impossible to imitate. Through these factual statistics the argument is supported that the population was not thrust an alternative campaign strategy, but rather it begged for one.
The second aspect of logos surrounds the use of reason and rational thinking that an author can use to promote the argument. While Walker and Trebay use many quotations to draw rational conclusions for their argumentative statements, Daum engages in an argument fallacy that is common within the use of logos. Daum inherently states a false argument that because she believes that the Dove girls campaign is objectionable, so does the rest of the female public. By interweaving pathos into her article, she attempts to combine emotional statements and arguments to support the argument that other people agree with her, again attempting to engage in validating her argument and herself as an authority figure. Unfortunately for Daum, she is unsuccessful in both because of the clear fallacy in her argument, and this is just one example of her many logical fallacies within the article. The author describes that if the current culture is used to the professional models, then using “real models” will only disrupt the societal norms and have a negative impact on the population and advertising campaign. No factual research supports this claim, and very little logic helps to show any validity to this line of thinking. This is an excellent example of how destructive logos can be to an argument if not utilized correctly by the author.
As clearly shown, there are multiple approaches to engaging the audience in an argument over the impact that physical beauty has in everyday life. Perhaps the most effective approach is the use of pathos where the reader and viewer are figuratively pulled into the argument through his or her emotional feelings relating to an issue. As previously explained, this can be achieved through written words or descriptive images. This approach helps engage the reader more effectively. Through this scenario, Daum was very successful in her written work. She properly engaged the audience through her blunt phrases and sarcasm to promote a negative emotional response towards the Dove girls campaign strategy. By utilizing this approach, the use of ethos and logos no longer becomes necessary. The failure of Daum to utilize these approaches correctly becomes a nonfactor because by the time the argument reaches these approaches, the audience has already been completely engaged and views Daum as clear authority figure on the issue. The reader wants to read more because the feelings and emotions he or she has for the argument provide a connection with the words on the page to the real life experiences, morals, or feelings of the reader.
Within the near future, physical beauty will continue on its current path that provides a strong impact on everyday life. Physical beauty appears everywhere in society, from magazine covers in the line at supermarkets, to the billboards on the side of major highways. Therefore, physical beauty impacts everyday life. However, the current trend may be shifting as is evident from the Dove girls campaign. No longer are people interested in viewing fake models that have been technologically altered or do not represent real people. Still, even the Dove girls had a beautiful look about them that was intriguing and physically attractive. The old adage that “skin sells” continues to hold true, even if the men or women on the cover are slightly overweight in certain areas or may not be what society typically is taught to believe is beautiful. For instance, the photograph on page 590 of Calista Flockhart shows the anorexic-looking actress awarded with an acting trophy. This symbolizes that this particular type of woman is more likely to be successful than a normal “real life” woman. Similarly, the image on page 629 shows older, more obese women that are neither smiling nor showing much skin. The viewer believes that it is inappropriate to look that way, and therefore, the individual must be covered up. This trend will continue, but the definition of beautiful is slowly changing and as long as more skin is appropriately shown, the audience will be more receptive to the advertisement.
Authors have many different literary tools at their disposal to help promote the validity and effectiveness of their arguments. The four works within the textbook each illustrate the effectiveness of ineffectiveness of pathos, ethos and logos in constructing an argument and presenting it to the general audience for acceptance. Furthermore, the impact that images can have on pathos and argument-development is very important to understand. Of course, “a picture is worth a thousand words” and the images help implement an emotional tug on the audience that helps to engage them. Similarly, as shown from Daum’s work, the author may be completely ineffective in one or two of the argument techniques, but if they can validate their argument and engage the audience, very little logic and rationality need apply. Physical beauty plays an important role in everyday life and every person has emotional feelings on the subject whether they are verbalized or not. Therefore, it is clear that ethos must be the most effective argumentative technique if utilized correctly.
Daum, Meghan. “Those Unnerving Ads Using ‘Real’ Women.” Everything’s an Argument: with readings. 4th ed. Boston: Bedford & St. Martin’s, 2007. 618-621. Print.
Lunsford, Andrea A., John J. Ruszkiewicz, and Keith Walters, comps. “Making a Visual Argument: Three Views on Body Image.” Everything’s an Argument: with readings. 4th ed. Boston: Bedford & St. Martin’s, 2007. 629-32. Print.
Trebay, Guy. “When Did Skivvies Get Rated NC-17?” Everything’s an Argument: with readings. 4th ed. Boston: Bedford & St. Martin’s, 2007. 622-628. Print.
Walker, Rob. “Social Lubricant: How a Marketing Campaign Became the Catalyst for a Societal Debate.” Everything’s an Argument: with readings. 4th ed. Boston: Bedford & St. Martin’s, 2007. 614-17. Print.
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