The Sex Appeal Trap

Like it or not, modern American culture is filled with sex. From steamy billboards and magazine prints to song lyrics and R-rated movies, sex appeal has been used in marketing since the introduction of modern advertising. It is used as an increasingly popular technique to sell products, especially those that are image-based, such as candy, liquor, jewelry, fragrance, cosmetics and fashion goods. Even more disturbing is the fact that sex pulls in consumers. Those who believe advertising has no influence on them are disillusioned.

This type of advertising has increasingly been targeted toward younger generations. Clothing ads, that just over a decade ago were considered for “adults only”, are now being marketed for girls as young as seven years old. In early 2013, Abercrombie & Fitch released a new line of sexually suggestive thong underwear to young girls. In a statement to ABC News, A&F stated that the underwear was meant to be “lighthearted and cute.” The company also stated that the product was created for girls that were 10 and over, even though it’s found in the Abercrombie kids line for girls aged 7-14.

"That makes me angry. Everyone is exposed to sex through media at some point in their lives, but exposing someone so young can negatively influence their thinking and how they look at themselves and others," Kevin Delacruz (12) said.

Clothing companies such as A&F, Hollister and American Apparel have been pushing boundaries and using sex to sell their clothing for many years. Other product companies have started taking advantage of this as well. Dentyne Ice tells people to “practice safe breath”. Axe depicts that men can get any woman just by using their products. Even fast food chains are starting to get in on the action. Carl’s Jr. had a commercial depicting a beautiful and scantily clad woman eating one of their burgers. If that’s not bad enough, they then added the lines, “She’ll tell you size doesn’t matter. She’s lying. It’s going to get messy at Carl’s Jr.”

"Some sex appeal is alright. There’s nothing wrong with slightly edgy commercials. When the appeal is so blatantly obvious to the point where somebody is missing an article of clothing, that’s when it goes too far,” Delacruz said.

Why do companies find the need to push sex with their products? If what they are selling is so good, there should be no reason to rely on sex to raise sales. According to a study done by The Kinsey Institute of California State University, the average teenager loses their virginity around age 17. The study also explained that the age is slowly dropping, due to pressures from television, movies and their peers.

"There is no reason for companies to use such vulgar social appeals. It’s degrading to average sized people. They’re bombarded with these thin and muscular models, pressuring them to want to be like them. It makes people feel uncomfortable, and it’s corrupting today's generation,” La-Shayla Larson (12) said.

Corporations need to slow down and reconsider their advertising techniques. By trying to sexualize youth, they’re taking away the innocence that used to be childhood. If United States consumers would cease to fall for these marketing tricks, many companies would be forced to change their strategy and focus on less controversial social appeals. By standing strong on morality and values, America’s youth can be saved from the “Sex Appeal Trap”.

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