Fluorescent Insinuations

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic
They are quicker, trickier, and making you do things subconsciously. Find out who and how it's happening by reading this essay.

Submitted: November 05, 2011

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Submitted: November 05, 2011



Four young girls in tight shorts stand on a rocky shore line with the sea at their backs.  Each girl stands sideways, slightly bent at the waist, a hand resting on the fronted buttock.  The photo is in black and white; however, the sneakers that they wear are in fluorescent color.

When I turned to this page in the magazine, my attention was first drawn to the shoes and the bare shapely legs to which they were attached.  The dull background of the photo forced them to stick out like a public worker’s vest in the midnight darkness.  The difference being that a worker’s vest protects him/her.  This advertisement does it to trap you - forcing you to notice their shoes.

Within the first seconds of peering at the photo, I was brainwashed and the advertisers slyly took away my free will.  I was a slave to the ad.  This ploy rests within that “grey area” between affective advertising and subliminal messaging.  They have found a way to make me see what they wanted me to see without being coy about it.  How can one sue or complain when everything is right there, spread out on the page?  They weren’t hiding the fact that they wanted me to see the shoes.

It made me apprehensive of how often my subconscious mind takes in images such as these and acts upon them.  Did I buy that particular brand of soda because ten minutes ago a bus drove by with the billboard on its side?  Did I just buy my daughter that kid’s meal because I thought it would make her love me more like the girl on the commercial loved her daddy? The human race has been flying on auto-pilot for hundreds of years with individuals working towards ways to better themselves.  Advertisers have just found a way to slip their own ideas and products into the slipstream of every day human life.

Robert T. Carroll, Professor of Philosophy at Sacramento City College says, “It is true that we can perceive things even though we are not conscious of perceiving them.”  We see hundreds of images a day as we drive, walk or ride around town.  Our eyes are caught by the passing image (the one image that jumps off the billboard) and it’s etched into our minds.  We then go on about our day never realizing that we read the whole ad and we’re now thirstier than we were five minutes ago.

After the affect of the shoes and the thought about how cool they would look on someone I knew wore off, I noticed the legs which were indubitably attached.  Now, I am a man and seeing skin in any daily activity catches my attention, so I spend a second or two looking at this picture’s display of flesh.  But getting up to the faces (four young girls no older than sixteen showing off their legs and buttocks) makes me woozy.  I close the magazine and drop it back on the rack.  I feel like a dirty old man.  I have a daughter the same age as those girls in the picture.  I want to go home and wash my brain out with soap for having felt such things about young girls.

These pictures are doing the same thing to the many young men looking at that ad and making them feel the same things.  This feeling of arousal is the same effect it has on the girls; suddenly they want to be sexier and attract the eyes of every boy in the tri-county area without one minute of thought about the repercussions of such thoughts.

In the most recent volume of the “Policy Statement” released by the American Academy of Pediatrics doesn’t ease my mind about the whole subject at hand either.  It states that all sorts of American marketing schemes are packed in sexual material.  Statistics show that each child takes in approximately 14,000 sexual innuendoes in a single year.  And only a slim percentage of these innuendoes show a mature or responsible view towards sex, diseases or birth control (341-343).

This is a reflection of our times.  As horrible or uncomfortable as the thought of seeing those girls in such a perverse manner was, it is a prime example of what’s going on in teen girl’s minds.  They want be women; they want to be sexy or seen as “hot” to their peers by buying clothes that cover less and less of their innocent bodies.  Kids are striving too hard to be grown up today that they are forgetting what it’s like to actually be a kid.  And it’s not just girls either.  Boys are trying very hard on their part to be seen as the “manly-man” by getting their driver’s license as young as possible in order to cruise the town picking up chicks.

I wish I could say that it were all caused by the messages and attitudes sent out by the ads, but it’s not.  Perhaps in this world of younger adults, we, who have come of age first, can show the younger generation what it all means.  Perhaps we are not teaching them what to look for or what to turn their eyes from at an early enough age.  We cover their eyes during the scary parts of movies but we allow them to skim the pages of these magazines unchecked.  Is it the same?  I think so.  The modern-day parent has slowed down.  They are both working and running around so hard that their reaction time with covering this stuff up and become sluggish and advertisers have adapted to today’s populous - they have made their messages move a bit quicker.

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