A few weeks ago, there was uproar on social media regarding the Lakpahana advertisement of a scarf where a nude male model posed and used the scarf to cover his crotch. People called the advertisement, which was posted online and then deleted, as outrageous and much too revealing.

However, it is rarely, if ever, that such a negative response is received for a similar advertisement featuring a female.

If you look at underwear advertisements, there are females in their underwear, often smiling suggestively. Clothes stores display pictures of models, often foreign, who are semi-nude. Magazine covers feature semi-nude women or scantily clad women in seductive poses. However, we are used to seeing pictures of half-dressed females and it doesn’t seem to affect us anymore. We simply accept it.

Do we ever question advertisements and how they affect us and our beliefs? People speak about how commercials and cosmetic products make society define beauty and label one as beautiful or not based on their complexion. The same could be said about size and shape. Stores display their latest outfits on mannequins that are thinner than most of us. Wouldn’t stores attract more customers if they displayed outfits on mannequins that are similar in shape and size to us?

If you go through the classified of a newspaper you will see how many negative advertisements are published each day. While there are people who would still not want a child to have their own mobile phone or tab, there are large companies that encourage purchasing a tab for your child because supposedly smart kids start sooner.

A mobile connection advertisement encourages people to text all day long, making all those posts about how important it is to put down your phone and just enjoy life quite useless. Sure, the advertisement shows a picture of young people sitting in sunlight, but they aren’t noticing this because they are all glued to the phones. Theadvertisement is basically saying, ‘don’t look around.

Forget the people sitting near you. Limit your interactions to your mobile. Text all day long!’

We are constantly bombarded with advertisements. We look at these, some we notice or pay attention to but others we just glance at. However, most of them manage to creep into our lives and shape the way we think and influence us. We don’t realize this but we are constantly affected by what we see and what we are shown. After all, people don’t spend millions on advertisements for no reason.

While browsing a site, an ad that popped up read, ‘the smallest moments can have the biggest impact on a child’s life. Send your child an email. Take time to be a dad today.’ The words are accompanied by a picture of a child smiling at a phone. Having seen this ad, what hit me was how the ad seemed to excused a father from being absent from a child’s life as long as he took the time to send an email. Is that all it takes to be a good father, an email that doesn’t take even five minutes to type and send?

When you see advertisements, question them. Look at how they impact your life, thoughts and beliefs. Can clothes stores attract customers with mannequins that have fat thighs, a not-very-flat tummy and a face without sharp features? Can spas and salons advertise without using conventionally beautiful models? Can a beach be advertised as the perfect holiday destination without having a bikini-clad female sunbathing or walking along the shore?

The parent who wants to see his child become smarter might buy him a brand new tab. This child will spend less time with his parents and more time emailing them because the advertisements tell people that an email is enough. We grow up surrounded by such toxic content that we don’t even realize how affected we are.

We can blame the advertising agencies and the companies, but we need to also admit that advertisements are created to attract us. Isn’t it a shame that, even today, sex sells? Isn’t it a shame that we are surrounded by advertisements that have a negative effect on people and relationships and we don’t even realize this?