American society depends heavily on medication to make people feel better or even be a better person. The lectures this week discussed medicalization and biomedicalization in terms of Western Society. Medicalization is when medical professionals attempted to control a patient’s body or behavior through medications or therapies. The control medical professionals sought to obtain were in regards to the belief that a patient did not fit the criteria for what is deemed medically or socially “normal”. This can even be seen in mentally ill patients of the 1950s. Biomedicalization, however, is currently taking place today. Instead of focusing on the control of the body, biomedicalization focuses on the enhancement of the human body and behaviors through “medical interventions.” These interventions could include therapy, surgery, or in most cases, medication. American society heavily relies on medication to enhance our bodies. For instance, some students use Adderall to enhance academic performance and diet pills are used to help lose weight. While these are only some examples, these uses of medication accurately depict the values and ideologies of Western culture. In these particular examples, it is evident that our culture values highly productive and attractive individuals. Most people would agree that living a healthy lifestyle with plenty of rest and exercise will allow one to be productive and attractive, but there are also some people who seek perfection and success through any means necessary. There are some people who would risk their health and well-being in order to be successful and/or beautiful by taking medications that prove to have adverse effects.

The advertisement I chose to critique is a commercial for Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream. This is an anti-aging cream that promises to help firm skin and make you look younger. It promises to reduce the appearance of wrinkles as soon as the first days of use and also promises younger looking skin before finishing one jar of product. This particular commercial for this product does not claim to have specific medical information and does not specify the two new anti-aging ingredients they have included into this micro-sculpting cream. There is no doctor/patient interaction to validate the medical benefits of this product but the packaging is sleek and sophisticated. They have a young, beautiful woman modeling the product and she seems happy and radiant. This is telling consumers that if they purchase this cream, they will have flawless and radiant skin. It is clear that Olay is targeting older women who feel the need to conform to society’s idea of what beauty is and how a woman should age. In a culture that values youth and does not like imperfections, an older person with wrinkles may want to conform by purchasing this product in the hopes that they will be accepted. Another marketing strategy they use is to promise fast results which will draw more people to the product that is supposedly guaranteed to work quickly. It is in this way that aging is biomedicalized as products like Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream attempt to enhance and stop a natural biological occurrence.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Ethan Gotz says:

    I think this commercial does a very poor job describing the product that it is trying to sell. Our culture believes that young people are more successful, look better, and are overall better people in society. This commercial introduces a girl that is already ‘young looking’ claiming that the product works on her. The before and after effects of the eyes in this commercial show really no difference between old and young. Many people believe in our culture that you have to look young to be young. In reality, there are plenty of older women and men who appear to be old, but are very healthy and active. Therefore, our culture equates old age to more disease and sickness in life; but this is hardly true. Conrad states that “medicalized categories, once established, can expand to become broader and more inclusive” (1). Medicalization has created a wider acceptance to coin old age as an illness, and although it is not true, it is now accepted as harmful to our bodies, thus people believe that if they look younger, they will feel younger.

    (1) Conrad, Peter; Potter, Deborah. “From hyperactive children to ADHD adults: Observations on the expansion of medical categories.” Social Problems. 4:4 Nov. 2000 pp. 559-582

  2. Devin Jay-Garfein says:

    Paige, I like your choice of commercial and views on it. I have seen it before and there are many others like it. Women’s targeted health and beauty products normally are not very well presented. Typically there are before and after pictures that cannot be trusted and the information given is not educational. But the products still sell and the companies still make money! This is due to the pressures in society. When people age, they get wrinkles, in western society that is not good. Youthful and a healthy fresh face is valued. For example, if a women of a certain age is going in for a job interview, or a promotion opportunity, they will most likely color their hair and try to make themselves look younger and more energetic. They do this to increase their chances of being more successful. Companies have even admitted they prefer younger and healthier looking employees. It is like they are treating aging as an illness itself. In the Conrad article it was mentioned that overtime the definitions of illness changes. With the pressure in society now for younger looking people I wonder if aging at one point be considered an illness itself. People joke that once you peak (about 30s) it is all downhill and your just slowly dying.

    Conrad, Peter, and Deborah Potter. “From Hyperactive Children to ADHD Adults: Observations on the Expansion of Medical Categories.” Social Problems 47, no. 4 (November 2000): 559-582

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