This Proactiv advertisement declares that physical flaws are repulsive. The company assumes that the girls viewing the advertisement are heterosexual; this excludes non-heterosexual girls, which suggests that their sexuality is abnormal. Additionally, it sends the message that having a boyfriend constitutes something desirable; the ad compels girls to be ashamed if they do not have or want a boyfriend. It asserts that without a boyfriend, they will not know how to solve any problems. The message of the ad recalls Berger’s article which argues that the woman’s “own sense of being in herself is supplanted by a sense of being appreciated as herself by another” (Berger 37). The ad tells girls to form their identities based on what a man sees in them, and without this, they are nothing.
The advertisement claims that women are not attractive if they have acne, which recalls the media’s message of an unattainable physical perfection. Acne is a natural bodily reaction to puberty; it should not be considered something to be ‘fixed.’ Jean Kilbourne examined this in her documentary “Killing Us Softly 4” when she discussed the use of Photoshop to ‘correct’ any flaws in women. While they are not using Photoshop in this ad, they are still forcing this same ideal of the perfect woman.
While teenage boys experience acne, the word ‘boyfriend’ and the pink lettering signal that the ad is likely targeted at teenage girls. The “media convention of downplaying homosexual relationships and sanitizing same-sex desire” (Sunny 4) makes it unlikely that advertisers would use the goal of getting a boyfriend to sell a product to boys. Additionally, pink is conventionally considered a girl’s color. Because teenage girls are still forming their identity, they are incredibly susceptible to advertising gimmicks. In light of this, the ad becomes more vicious as it possesses the command to impact girls who have fully formed identities and who have already been battered by the media’s attacks on their self-esteem.