Visual Argument Essay

A curvy woman, clad in a tight black dress revealing porcelain skin, her hair is down and in her hand, between her slender fingers, dangles a cigarette, or death stick, as is portrayed by the actual advertisement. An image of this sort is immediately formed in an onlookers mind upon seeing the actual advertisement which simply depicts red lipstick and full lips that begins to create a sex appeal before being marred by the black cigarette burn in the corner of the upturned lips. Society has demarcated what sort of woman is now defined as sexy or attractive and in illustrating so clearly a cigarette burn on an intended to be appealing woman, the advertisement is attempting to portray smoking as having a negative effect on one’s physical appeal; specifically women’s. Therefore, a stereotype is revealed that, supposedly, smoking makes women less attractive. The main purpose of the advertisement is to persuade viewers not to smoke; it is a refutation against smoking and succeeds in revealing the negative effects of smoking on women in today’s society. Although the advertisement is successful in raising awareness about the damaging effects of smoking, it unfairly targets women creating an inaccurate stereotype about those who smoke and raises a logical fallacy in implying that smoking will make one less attractive, in order to convey the intended argument against smoking.

The advertisement is successful in demonstrating the harmful ways in which smoking can physically affect people. The black and red colors on the ad symbolize black scarred innards, or even lungs, that are charred due to smoking; the advertisement then opens ones imagination up to what else smoking is rotting. Also one breathes through their mouth at times and the ad further implies unfavorable effects of smoking by creating a relationship between the quality of oxygen one’s body intakes when smoking and the black hole burnt into the lips. In the article, “Health Guide” the author states that lips can actually be turned black after having smoked excessively. The advertisement conveys its main point due to its clear use of actual facts in displaying the effects smoking can have on one’s appearance and subtly hints at the negative effects of smoking to a person’s body.

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While the ad makes fair points regarding actual consequences of smoking, in doing so the advertisement reveals a stereotype about the modern day woman.

Primarily it illustrates how the expectation has not changed, in every respect, from the traditional role of women. This expectation is that women ought to be intent on more feminine habits, and if they are not concerned with hobbies that society has deemed acceptable then this makes them less attractive. The advertisement itself, unintentionally, supports the claim that woman are seen as less attractive when smoking because the ad manipulates society’s existing perception of gender roles to persuade a neutral, not sexist or feminist, audience to not smoke. In the article, “Traditional Gender Roles’ Devastating Effect on the Modern Woman” by Abby Kaplan the author contends, “Even as young children, girls are steered away from ‘male’ subjects. […] In our society, the discrimination is […] subtle, but it still exists” (Kaplan). Although some may argue that smoking is not a male practice, however, looking back into history, books or movies, many great men, or simply powerful men or portrayed with a cigar in hand. The ad is using people’s perception of smoking as a masculine act to encourage women not to smoke. A woman is led to believe if she smokes she is less feminine hence; smoking would make her less attractive because it is seen as a masculine practice. The advertisement does attain support from a stereotype; nevertheless, the ad itself is effective in convincing women not to smoke.

Various people would agree that smoking is an unhealthy habit, however many indulge in smoking and do not acknowledge the harmful effects it may have. Regardless of these beliefs, to either side, smoking does not hold the power to make women less physically attractive except in cases of addiction. The ad has an imagery effect on the viewer to visualize an attractive female whose allure is tarnished by the act of smoking. This, in itself, is a logical fallacy because while smoking is an instigator in many respects, the act itself cannot make one less appealing unless converted into a long lasting addiction. In the article, “Smoking Makes Men More Attractive but Women Less Attractive?” the author maintains, “Look at the Hollywood stars that smoke religiously, Johnny Depp, Brad Pitt, George Clooney. Granted I really don’t know why they are “super good looking” to my female counterparts but all I know is they go crazy for them.” Essentially, the ways in which smoking influences ones appearance is a matter of taste and perception. The advertisement contradicts logic in its visual argument, however, since its claim is so imbedded in the mind of society, the ad remains successful in communicating its central idea effectively; do not smoke it will appear less attractive to others.

The advertisement accomplishes its goal of persuading a neutral audience not to smoke; however, the ad does so mainly through the use of pathos because it is weaker in its application of logos. The ad falls short in the logos portion because it creates a negative stereotype against women, that while unconsciously accepted by much of society, contradicts an appeal to logic. Logic is contradicted again through this ad when the claim is made that the act of smoking can make an attractive person or female less appealing. This is a logical fallacy because ones level of attractiveness is not determined by whether or not they smoke. While the advertisement does construct an, essentially, illogical argument, since the claims made are actually perceived as true, the ad is still effective in illustrating smoking as an unhealthy, unattractive and unsavory habit.