Tips for Critiquing the Media

Things to Remember About the Media and Advertising

  • All forms of media and advertising are constructions. They were created for a specific purpose, and this does not mean that they reflect reality. Their job is to sell you something, and they will often do whatever it takes to convince you that you need their product or service, even if this involves playing off of your emotions.
  • You get to decide how advertising impacts you. You can choose to view advertising in a very media literate way that protects your body image and self-esteem.

Questions to Ask When Viewing an Advertisement

  • What is this ad trying to sell? How does this ad try to convince you that you need their product or service?
  • How does this advertisement impact the way you feel about yourself or see yourself?
  • Is this advertisement sending some kind of message about worthiness?
  • Does this advertisement (or advertisements from this company as a whole) represent a diversity of people (including race, body size, age, gender, etc.) Why or why not? How does the fact that they do/don’t play into the way they want their product to be represented? If they don’t represent a diversity of people, would it be appropriate for them to do so? Why do you think they don’t?
  • Does this ad try to create some kind of emotional experience surrounding the product? Did the advertisers try to convince you to feel a certain emotion towards their product?

Things You Can Do

  • Talk back to the advertisements that you see. Challenge the messages that they send and point out the inaccurate ways that they represent reality.
  • Write letters to advertisers that you see consistently sending out negative messages. Explain to them why you disagree with the messages that they are sending, and why you would like them to change
  • Write letters to advertisers that you think send positive messages. Compliment their methods and let them know what you love about the way they advertise.
  • Make an effort to avoid buying products from companies that consistently use advertising that sends negative messages.
  • Talk to your friends and family about advertising. Tell them how it makes you feel and encourage them to take a closer look at some of the images we see every day.
  • Take a look at the way you talk to yourself and the people around you. Are you reinforcing some of the same messages that the media sends us through the comments you make either about yourself or other’s bodies (such as fat talk)?
  • Take a break from the media! Rip the advertisements out of the magazines that you read, try listening to an iPod instead of the radio, or just turn off the television. The less media and advertising you consume, the less it can impact you.

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