Acne is a very much medicalized in western culture and advertisement has mad it’s a medical illness that needs medicine. Cultural influences like media and popular culture are what I believe reframed it into illness. In the media you seem people with “flawless” skin which instills the belief the viewer’s skins show be as immaculate as the person TV. Anytime there are countless number of commercials shown for acne treatments.. It’s not even seen as part of a teen’s life anymore but as an illness that needs to be taken of fast. I heard before with the acne treatments that are out there no one should have it anymore. Acne treatment companies make billions of dollars selling their products and millions are spent and advertisement. Also celebrities are a major part of getting people to buy acne treatments. “Jessica Simpson was paid six figures alone to appear in Pro Activ commercials to help convince the consumer.  The company spends about $125 million a year buying time for its infomercials on channels like VH1 and MTV as well as Web sites like Facebook”. (Acne, the Billion Dollar Business Analyzed)

The advertisement I chose to analyze is commercial the acne treatment Skin ID who has the famous celebrity actress Hayden Panettiere as a spokesperson. The advertising strategy is having the Hayden talk to the audience on a personally level and she even reveals her skin id. They also have testimonies for the general population so you can it doesn’t just work for a celebrity but it can work for anybody. The cultural ideology is that anyone can have clear skin if they just buy this product. Also it also speaks on the cultural value of having clear skin. The social roles show that having acne is unacceptable and show be treated at any cost. The commercial presents medical information through charts and comparing it to the Proactiv. The Skin ID showed dermatologist talking about how good the product. They have people who use Skin ID: they talk about how it helped them and show their before and after pictures.

Works Cited

Acne, the Billion Dollar Business Analyzed. (n.d.).


3 thoughts on “Acne

  1. I definitely agree that acne is a very popular medicalized condition in western culture. This culture has an obsession with appearance and has decided that clear and flawless skin is beautiful and “healthy”. I think it was very important that you pointed out that acne is not even considered a normal part of a teen’s life anymore, but rather it is seen as an illness that needs to be taken care of fast. The acne treatment ads that you examined paid “beautiful” celebrities to convince the consumer of the effectiveness of the product. The before and after pictures in this issue are of particular interest to me. They always seem to portray a miserable life in the before picture, as the young adult is struggling with acne. After using the treatment however, the individual could not be happier with their life. The medicalization of acne in our culture is very representative of our ideas about beauty and health. It shows how important it is for us to have clear skin, even if it is a naturally occurring thing. Acne has never killed anyone, but our social norms and cultural values influence our ideas of “healthy skin”. Perhaps this “illness” should be considered a socially constructed illness, rather than a medical illness.

  2. I absolutely agree with your views on these advertisements and the medicalization of acne. I feel there is more effort put into finding a celebrity famous enough to formally endorse acne products for companies than there is actually ensuring they have a quality product that will live up to the expectations of their consumers. Companies such as Pro Activ act more like corporate giants than a company that is providing medication and acne treatments to their customers. For example in the ad you included, a celebrity is shown endorsing Skin ID and letting everyone know how easy it is to cure acne, while she herself has probably never even experienced acne. Most of the ads also leave the responsibility to the viewers to ‘cure’ their acne, while it is often something that goes away after teenagehood.

    Medications in our culture are often used in a cosmetic or elective sense which proves that our cultural values and ideologies of health are rather superficial and self centered. Because we have such vast access to medications in our culture, it is also reflective of society as a whole and the financial successes of companies that distribute medications. The role of medicalization and biomedicaliztion imply that our physical well being can be dependent on our physical appearance, and turns acne into an ‘illness’. However, I think acne medication falls in a grey area between enhancement and medication, because acne is not detrimental to ones health per say, but the treatment of it can greatly better someone’s quality of life, as acne often consequentially lowers a patient self esteem and self worth. Acne also often has a genetic predisposition, and some people have tried countless medications to no avail, so it appears some cases of it are not even treatable.

  3. The ad you chose is a perfect example of how acne is viewed in our society. They play on people’s belief that if you have acne, you won’t fit into our culture as well as someone without acne. The use of Hayden Panettiere provides the target audience with a famous and familiar face and subtly plants the idea that if I use this product I can look like her. In addition to Panettiere’s testimony on her use of the product, the ad gives testimonials from more “common” people that the viewer can relate to. All of this you stated is your post, but I would add one more thing. The ad mentions a number of times how skinID provides a number specially calculated for you. This makes the viewer feel as if the product is designed just for them and adds another level of trust in the product.

    Medications have been playing an increasing larger role in the American society, especially when it comes to medicalization. The American culture has a very specific set of ideologies and values when it comes to health, wellbeing and success. Our society believes there is a set guideline as to how to be successful and that success has a lot of that has to do with image. Acne is a perfect example because it affects a person’s image and people will do anything to ensure their image is as close to our cultural standards as possible. In that effort, that person could be sacrificing their health and wellbeing.

Leave a Reply