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Personal identity within marketing and advertising

  1. Sep 10, 2014 #1
    Hello everyone,

    I'm currently writing my dissertation based around the question of whether photo editing within the spheres of fashion and beauty media and advertising rids the subjects of their identity - I have looked at numerous books about personal identity, such as Paul Ricoeur's Oneself as Another, Derek Parfit's Reasons and Persons, Craig Calhoun's Social Theory And the Politics of Identity, Bernard Williams' Problems of the Self etc.

    I'm currently searching for more contemporary journals and articles about how the marketing and advertising industries profile the general public and the tactics they use to target specific individuals as well as groups. Also any recent papers on what constitutes one's identity in today's world and the modern social structure.

    Would be great to hear any suggestions you may have!

  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 10, 2014 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Welcome to PF!

    Are you looking at how photos of models are altered to make them look trimmer? and how this affects people's views of beauty?
  4. Sep 10, 2014 #3

    Well yes, but focusing on whether editing the images alters or altogether rids the model of their identity. As a photographer myself I've done quite a lot of retouching and I'm trying to stay away from the effect it has on body image etc, instead looking into what it means to be an individual today and how the photographers together with fashion and beauty companies and advertisers work to exploit our habits, opinions and behaviour - do we still have an autonomous personal identity or had it been shaped by the media?
  5. Sep 10, 2014 #4


    Staff: Mentor

    It seems like this is a very hard question to answer.

    In a Zen context, teachers pose a question and look for original answers. The problem for most people is that they are influenced by their environment, eat the same foods, go to the same places and behave in the same way as others. When you switch cultures this conformance becomes obvious as now your behavior is different from those around you.

    So now how do you separate cultural from media influences?
  6. Sep 10, 2014 #5
    What do you mean by "rids the models of their identity"? In what sense?

    Are you asking, "Does photoshopping images of models in fact mean that the person/likeness in the ad is no longer the model?" That is, if a model were to open up a page in some fashion magazine and point to a photoshopped image of herself, would she be correct in saying, "That's me."?

    Or are you trying to get at something on a more abstract level?
  7. Sep 10, 2014 #6
    The question stemmed from this video:

    Yes, that's along the lines of what I'm asking, is the image herself or just a product of marketing? But I've been looking deeper into the definition of personal identity and how it could be pinpointed in order to answer the above question.

    We are born with set characteristics which are further shaped by our experiences in life - in fashion imagery, many of these characteristics are defaced and moulded to fit the idealised image of a female body - so is the final image still the person the model was originally? Do retouchers have the right to tamper with the subject's unique set of features?
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 25, 2014
  8. Sep 10, 2014 #7


    Staff: Mentor

    Interesting video, I had a similar experience after following a weight loss program. Looking in the mirror I flet my head was way too big and out of proportion to my body.

    The fix? eat more but still try to remain trim... so much for weight loss..

    I imagine they had similar feeling looking at their doctored photos.

    HS seniors here routinely have their photos automatically adjusted by the photographer for yearbook pictures, removing skin blemishes...
  9. Sep 11, 2014 #8


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    It surprises me that the women in the video were not, at least a little bit, ecstatic about being made to look "better" than their normal self ( I would tend to think the video was scripted ).

    Most people are quite vain, and when confronted with a situation, such as dating, evening out, or job interview, will tend to try to look their best, in an attempt to present best qualities and hopefully making favourable impressions. In addition, especially evident for the younger generations, although not limited to them, is the self confidence boost from smelling good and looking good with fresh fancy clothes.

    Advertisers do use that to sell products. Smell better with out cologne and perfume. Look better with out designer wardrobe. Impress better driving our car. Be more likable and sociable with our ( alcoholic ) drink. Eat our food and be healthier and more fit. And so on. ( there are exceptions to the use of this tactic, which you are probably aware )

    So to sell with this style of marketing and advertising, both the product and model must ooze perfection, in one way or the other, depending upon the product. Selling cosmetics - unblemished and youthful looking skin. Selling clothes - glamour and desirable. Selling cars - successful and confident. Selling sports equipment - energetic, lively, risky, healthy. By no means a complete list of what lifestyle they are trying to sell you.

    For the model, can they act it out on a job to job basis, and seperate their own life from the modelling? Or do they, or some of them, at some point begin to live the character they portray? Good question. I find your topic an interesting take on the human condition.
  10. Sep 12, 2014 #9
    I don't feel Media shapes our general identity as a society, but that it identifies it.
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