The role of medication in American society has increased significantly over the last few decades. Medicalization is described as the control over bodies and behaviours through medical interventions. In the 20th century, the invention of penicillin allowed medicaliztion to take hold as the trend in biomedicine at the time. Penicillin, and other antibiotics, allowed patients to gain control of their bodies in a way that they had not previously been able to do because there was now a solution to their conditions. Antibiotics also became symbolic of what lab science could offer. People finally felt as through they had justification over medically defining what was “normal”. As technology advanced, biomedicalization became the newest trend in biomedicine. Biomedicalization focuses on the enhancement of bodies and behaviours through medical interventions. Technological advances have allowed the improvement of social lives for a society that values social status. Limbs and body parts that were once irreplaceable are now fully replaceable – the body is now customizable. It’s no longer good enough to be healthy – now we have to be better than before. Media has shed light on the possibilities of the future and Western society hangs on the hope of solving their problems. Medicine is now used to increase the efficiency and enhance the body, instead of being used to solely treat illness. Medicine for almost any condition is now available and readily advertised. Previously normal processes have now been “medicalized” and turned into fixable health conditions.
I chose to analyze menopause because it shows how a natural human process has been medicalized and turned into an illness that can be fixed through the use of various biomedical methods. Menopause occurs when a women’s ovaries stop producing an egg to be released each month – this results in the cessation of menstruation. During menopause, the ovaries also produce less hormones, such as progesterone and estrogen. Treatment of menopause often involves hormone therapy to replace the hormones that are no longer being produced. The commercial I want to review is for the drug Estroven, a supplement advertised to reduce the symptoms of menopause. Throughout the commercial the actors seemed very relatable for middle-aged women. They dressed in normal clothes and had very standard jobs, such as an office job or teaching job. The music was extremely upbeat to symbolize the positivity that results with use of the drug. The advertisement attempted to emphasize the cultural value/ideology of femininity by “restoring” women to their pre-menopausal state, but I thought that it portrayed many gender biases and negative female stereotypes. The first statement in the commercial is, “my husband isn’t afraid of me anymore”, which to me, symbolizes that women are required to maintain a social role defined by men. The advertisement also offered a biomedical solution that would allow women to maintain their professional life by allowing women to not get undressed at work, which demonstrates another valued social role. The advertisement offers women the option to be “hot, but in a good way”, demonstrating cultural values of physical characteristics and beauty and the negative stigma of menopause “symptoms”. Overall, I think the advertisement uses DTCA in order to portray Estorven as the obvious choice if you want to avoid menopausal symptoms and maintain control over valued social roles and expectations throughout menopause. Over the years, menopause has been reconceptualized from a natural process to a medical condition with set symptoms, diagnosis and tangible treatment options.