DAVAO CITY — The television advertisements of different brands of shampoos appeal well to women of different ages. A girl oftentimes associates with hair talk the act of twirling her hair while rolling her eyes. A middle-aged woman would choose a shampoo that is age defying as it makes the hair buhay na buhay, never mind that, logically speaking, the hair is the deadest part of the human body since it is composed of dead cells. Also, women can opt not to be called Babaeng Uy Ay — this happens, according to another shampoo advertisement, if you have dandruff.

To ordinary viewers, the different advertisements convey ordinary messages. But looking closely, these advertisements tend to be cruel toward not-so-good-looking women. Take, for instance, Sunsilks Hair Talk: Three good-looking women who pose as brides maids are with other women to catch the bouquet. However, they do not want to deal with the rude guys, one of whom would get the brides garter. So they communicate with the bride through hair talk, that they do not want the bouquet. The bouquet then lands on a middle-aged woman who wears thick glasses and has curly hair. The woman is happy while the men make faces upon seeing her catching the bouquet.

Transcending from that supposedly funny scenario, it would be right to question why the young men would make faces upon seeing that a middle-aged woman gets the bouquet. And why such a woman seems like a punishment for the rudeness of men? Is it because she is old?

Such advertisements only manifest the usual stereotype to women. It implies that there is a mute rule so that you could be branded beautiful; otherwise, you are ugly. This mute rule becomes the pseudo-parameter on how a woman can be and should be beautiful. And sadly, it answers the question why a woman should be beautiful, according to the standard of the mute rule.

This mute rule includes the idea that makes a woman want to follow what a certain advertisement is fretting about. Of course, who would like to be that middle-aged woman who catches the bouquet and whom the young men mock? Who would like to be that Babaeng Uy Ay, so called by the band who sang that song for the Head & Shoulders advertisement? No woman wants to be ridiculed in the world with such lookist perspective.

So it leaves everyone with a call to be critical as a viewer not just of sitcoms and movies but of TV advertisements as well.

(Ms. Soco is a student of Mass Communications and International Studies at the Ateneo de Davao, where she also served as president of Samahan, the student government. She was the 2003 Mutya ng Dabaw. She wrote about her father in her previous column.)

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