The Advertising World And Pedophilia


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Cultural Brands, American Apparel. Photograph. American Apparel, Los Angeles.

For the sake of argument, let’s explore how the advertising world works and compare it to the process of child exploitation. To be really provocative, let’s compare fashion print advertising to that of pedophilia. Not that print advertising designers, photographers, or the fashion designers themselves are pedophiles per se, but the process of luring underage individuals into a particular behavior might be.

So, there is a correlation between the two. Both have a purpose of exercising the influence over a minor to achieve “favors”. The pedophile’s desire is for the minor to hand over physical sexual favors. The advertiser’s desire is to hand over a monetary one. Thus, their target is vital to their profit. They may choose a subject who fits their particular desires. The pedophile will target one who fits his or her particular sexual needs most, and the advertiser will choose the one who fits the profile of the one who will buy the most products. The similarity is that they both need to target the ones who are the most vulnerable and most easily swayed. There are different ways they can do this.

The Vegas Legging. Photograph. American Apparel, Los Angeles.// Back to School. Photograph. Abercrombie & Fitch, New Albany.

The processes have similarities. The process of exploitation can be involved, requiring systematic ‘grooming’ of the subject. The pedophile may employ methods that befriend the child and make the child take interest in the perpetrator (Fisher 24). An effective print ad may do the same by eliciting a reaction of interest and attraction to the message of the ad or article. Usually by making the ad attractive and pleasing to look at. It may be a model that is attractive to another and elicit a fantasy. A fantasy that involves the subject to have a relationship with the actual model, or a fantasy of being the model and having the experience that the model is engaged in or representing. Now, because of the nature of the vulnerability of the adolescent going through puberty, involving hormones, with the self-identity issue, the most effective ads are those that target these vulnerabilities. This brings us to the next step of the pedophile’s luring plan: that of bribery, and false promises. A pedophile will promise all sorts of pleasing rewards to engage the subject. These promises or bribes of ‘affection’ may be reinforced with threats (Fisher 24). Although these promises and threats are likely more severe and traumatizing to an actual victim of pedophilia, consider the process. The sexually provocative ad, if done effectively, is full of promise that the product will surely result in a transformation of the subject to make an adolescent appear more appealing to the opposite sex. The more of the product purchased, the stronger the promise. And on the flip side, the threat of not following through, is the threat of being beaten to the punch by someone else who will follow through. This is, after all an age group that thrives on constant comparison of body image during the maturing phase of the adolescent. Again, the most insecure, are the most vulnerable. And it’s the most vulnerable that will be drawn in by the messages that these advertisements present.