Men are perfect already, apparently.


October 9, 2012 by bryannosaurusrex

There comes a time in a man’s life when he discovers the truth. A truth so mind-bendingly dangerous and controversial he must keep it a secret for the rest of his days. No man can foresee when it will happen, or where he will be when it does, but the truth will eventually hit him in the face like a runaway train carrying the Swedish beach volleyball team during a heat wave. That truth goes something like this:

‘I am James Bond disguised as Indiana Jones driving the Bat mobile, and I’m the only one that knows. Nothing I or anyone else can do will make me better in any way. Women want me and other men want to be me, even if they don’t realise it. ’
Nowhere is this more evident than in the following advertisements:

However, for 33-50% of all men, none of the previous statement is in any way true. It has been found in a number of studies (Page & Allen 1995; Williams & Currie 2000; Vartanian, Giant, & Passino, 2001 ) that not only are a high percentage of men dissatisfied with their physiques, but in some cases men come to actively dislike advertisement campaigns that depict handsome, muscular ‘ideal’ males. So what do most companies do? (not the companies involved in the so called ‘health and fitness industry’). They use normal men in their advertisements. The previous ads are perfect examples of this. Instead of alienating a large percentage of the male population by using rippling Adonis figures, a company can use an ‘average’ man and recruit them as a customer. You could go as far as to say they actively use below average males, or in some cases as in the Ad below, make fun of the gym rats.

This is no secret to the advertisement agencies. Look back at the advertisements aimed at men over the years, and apart from the ones selling magic powders and supplements, they use pretty average men. So why has it taken companies so long to catch on when it comes to women?  And why have so many companies refused to follow Doves ‘campaign for real beauty’ and Special K’s ‘What will you gain’ campaign?

Morry & Staska  (2001) and  Richins (1991), along with a multitude of others, have demonstrated time and again that  women’s body satisfaction  decreases when they are exposed to advertisements depicting thin women.  In fact, Richins’ research has shown that if you advertise to women, using an ‘ideal’ woman, it will alienate a large percentage of the population. Which, if you can cast your mind back to the beginning of this piece, happens if you advertise to men using ‘ideal’ males.  So why don’t more companies adopt the same approach when advertising to women as they do with men? I don’t know.  But they should.


5 thoughts on “Men are perfect already, apparently.

  1. Eraf says:

    Isn’t this in keeping with the idea that empathy employs the same skills as predation but to the benefit of the target individual?

    So advertising companies use fundamental (wolf in sheep’s clothing)predatory techniques to infiltrate and manipulate a peer group into accepting a product as part of the culture of that group, for example, thereby promoting sales.

  2. jimmyg says:

    I wonder what happens to women’s body image when they see ‘positive’ campaigns like the Nike ‘Thunder Thighs’, and ‘My Butt is Big’ campaign images. From a brief review of some online comments it seems that women and girls do feel empowered by seeing these images. It is rare to see ‘realistic’ women’s bodies in advertising but when we do, you could argue that they are still ‘attractive’. The Nike images may not be feminine in the sense that fashion magazines often portray, but they are toned, athletic and therefore attractive. I doubt if audiences would stomach images of really unattractive women in the way that we can laugh at fat and balding men strolling along the beach.

  3. These presentations of an “ideal” can create this need to be that “ideal” (Brown & Dittmar, 2005). Hence, not only do these “ideal” women lower some people’s self-esteems for their current state, but they also give people a harder ideal-self to strive for, which is especially difficult since those “ideal” women can be photoshopped as the video in your post shows. Dittmar, Beattie & Friese (1996) found that people with bigger gaps between their present self-image and their ideal self-image brought more (apparently) image-enhancing products, like make-up, on impulse. However, another study has shown that adverts that match consumers’ self-images more closely created better brand images and memories than those that did not (Hong & Zinkhan, 1995). Hence, these self-esteem lowering adverts may be helping those with self-image matching adverts by increasing impulsive buying, but those adverts that match are more memorable. Hence, it may be better to match more consumers’ current self-image in adverts.


    Brown, A., & Dittmar, H. (2005). Think “thin” and feel bad: The role of appearance schema activation, attention level, and thin–ideal internalization for young women’s responses to ultra–thin media ideals. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 24, 1088-1113. Retrieved from

    Dittmar, H., Beattie, J., & Friese, S. (1996). Objects, decision considerations and self-image in men’s and women’ s impulse purchases. Acta Psychologica, 93, 187-206. Retrieved from

  4. […] are perfect already. Ladies, you might need some work. Just watch some ads, okay?(Cue eye […]

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