Cosmetic Procedures and Beauty Products/Services in Advertising - General

This chapter presents the general results of the analysis of the adverts for cosmetic procedures and beauty products/services found in the lifestyle magazines. Building on some of the topics raised in Chapter 4, this chapter examines how the nature of advertising for cosmetic procedures has changed over time (see Section 5.1). Following this, Sections 5.2-

5.4 draw on themes identified in previous literature on discourses of (beauty) advertising as they relate these to the magazine data. Section 5.2, ‘Look good, feel good’, explores the link between body and mind that advertisers draw on to sell their body transformations and beauty products. Related to this, Section 5.3 discusses the problem/solu- tion format that is commonly found in advertising - in particular, the ‘problem’ of (the appearance of) ageing, as constructed in advertising, is examined. Furthermore, this section includes an examination of the concepts of ‘(em)power(ment)’ and ‘choice’, as employed by marketers. Finally, Section 5.4 considers how technology and science, as adopted by much of contemporary advertising discourses, is used to promote products and services. In relation to this, the theme of nature/tbe natural is explored.

Change in Advertising for Cosmetic Procedures

As indicated in the previous chapter, the nature of the adverts for cosmetic procedures found in the lifestyle magazines has changed significantly between 2001 and 2015. In accordance with trends related to cosmetic surgery, invasive procedures such as breast enlargements and (surgical) liposuction are advertised less frequently in the women’s magazines and have been substituted by the promotion of non-surgical, non-invasive treatments (see Figure 5.1).

Moreover, the one advert that does mention cosmetic surgery in the 2015 Marie Claire data adopts a very different tone from the advertising in earlier years. The advert by the Flarley Medical Group features the headline “we believe the customer isn’t always right” - at odds with the popular marketing motto - and then explains in its copy:

Type of cosmetic procedures advertised in the women’s magazines

Figure 5.1 Type of cosmetic procedures advertised in the women’s magazines.

we know that sometimes the perfect procedure, actually isn’t always a procedure. You see, because we care about giving you the best result possible, we’ll always discuss every option available to you - be that cosmetic surgery, a non-surgical treatment, or perhaps doing nothing at all.

(Marie Claire February 2015: 147)

Alongside the provider’s slogan, ‘founded on care’, the message here suggests that the provider is not wholly commercial. Although the authenticity of this marketing message may be questioned, the Harley Medical Group seems to have responded to the various calls for a more strictly regulated cosmetic surgery industry.

Unlike the distinct patterns that emerge in relation to the type of procedures marketed in adverts for cosmetic procedures in the women’s magazines, Figure 5.2 illustrates that the situation is less clear in the men’s magazines. The first thing to note for FHM is that there are no adverts for cosmetic procedures in the 2015 data. Moreover, there does not seem to be an increase in the promotion of non-surgical or non-invasive procedures in FHM - rather, whereas 32% (N=6) of the cosmetic adverts in 2001 promoted non-surgical interventions (such as laser treatments), there were no adverts that solely focused on non-surgical interventions in 2006 or 2010. However, it does need to be noted that the proportion of adverts promoting both surgical and non-surgical options increased between 2001 and 2010 for FHM.

Interestingly, the Gay Times included a relatively high number of adverts for non-surgical and/or non-invasive treatments when compared to the other magazines in 2001, 2006, and 2010. These adverts for

Type of cosmetic procedures advertised in the men’s magazines

Figure 5.2 Type of cosmetic procedures advertised in the men’s magazines.

non-surgical procedures mostly related to issues of hair; on the one hand, laser treatments promoted (body) hair removal, whereas, on the other hand, several non-invasive (scalp) hair restoration methods were promoted. The focus on hair in the Gay Times may relate to the (stereotypical) gay male body ideal, which is “young, White, mesomorphic ... with facial symmetry, a full head of hair and minimal body hair” (Jankowski et al. 2014: 474) - this particular body ideal is prevalent in images published in gay male lifestyle magazines.

In Chapter 7 - Blurring Boundaries - I will return to the discussion of the types of cosmetic procedures that have been marketed across the years as I explore the implications of the shift from advertising surgical/ invasive to non-surgical/non-invasive procedures.

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