The student news site of Brookline High School


December 4, 2021

Between all of the photos and videos on social media lies something just as harmful: advertisements. These advertisements are curated through analyzing users’ social media searches, and take advantage of viewers through their vulnerability and desire to attain the sought-after beauty standard and fit into stereotypes.

English teacher Kiera Flynn-Carson said social media includes targeted ads that are formulated in ways that make viewers think that the only way to become happy is by engaging in things that cost money.

“Now with social media, you are bombarded with not just the images that you see, but personalized ads that are exacerbating in the way that the viewer thinks ‘Oh, I feel this way about my hair, this product that shows up in my feed and will make it all better,’” Flynn-Carson said.

Senior Evan Guttell, a former student in Leslie’s class, said that targeted ads need to be viewed as a larger issue, not just a problem that only occurs through social media.
“We need to ask ourselves what motivates these companies, and usually, they are trying to profit off of people’s insecurities,” Guttell said.“All of these products marketed towards women to reach an unattainable beauty standard help big companies to make money, while women may never feel ‘good enough,’ or only feel ‘beautiful’ once they buy a certain product.”

Public speaker and writer Jean Kilbourne portrays the effects of advertisements in her documentary, “Killing us Softly.” She said ads sell not only products, but also lifestyles and values.

“But what does advertising tell us about women?” Kilbourne said. “It tells us as it always has that what is most important is how we look. We all learn how important it is for a woman to be beautiful. Women learn from a very early age that we must spend enormous amounts of time, energy and above all money striving to achieve this look and feeling ashamed and guilty when we fail.”

Coordinator of Guidance and Counseling Darby Neff-Verre said it is important to recognize that this is not an issue that can be instantly fixed, as it is deeply ingrained into our society.

“Social media sometimes reflects culture and sometimes culture builds from what social media has started. But, there are people that are impacted by not seeing a reflection of themselves in social media,” Neff-Verre said. “As women, I think we still have a long way to go, although we have made a good amount of progress. We need to let women feel comfortable expressing themselves without validating only a certain body type or appearance. The impact is there, and it is blatant and pretty horrendous. Even at Brookline High, we need to keep working on it.”

Neff-Verre said that school counselors are great people to talk to if a student is worried about themselves or someone else. They have exceptionally skilled social workers, on all campuses, from both the town of Brookline and the Public Health Department.

“The first and most important thing is to build a sense of trust so that the student understands that there are people who care and who are trained to support them. It is important for students to understand that their safety and health is important to us,” Neff-Verre said.

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