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Bradley Hilltopics

Spring 2008 • Volume 14, Issue 2
Web Exclusives
Ice floor at Robertson | 1981 Bradley vs. Tulsa video | They played in Peoria | Read and share your Field House memories | The last Field House graduation | Slovenian students; Fulbright Scholars | The $100 laptop project | Overcoming an eating disorder | Students hear the naked truth | The NIU shooting tragedy hits home


Students hear about the naked truth

By Gayle Erwin McDowell ’77

Jean Kilbourne

Dr. Jean Kilbourne presented a campus slide show depicting the media’s role in creating an obsession with thinness.

“The Naked Truth: Advertising’s Image of Women” drew a crowd of more than 300 students on March 5. Dr. Jean Kilbourne, named one of the top three campus speakers in the nation by New York Times Magazine, presented a slide show depicting the media’s role in creating an obsession with thinness. “There is an emphasis on ideal female beauty that no one can achieve,” she told the group that overflowed Neumiller Lecture Hall in Bradley Hall. Kilbourne noted that 20 years ago fashion models weighed eight percent less than the average American woman, while currently they weigh 23 percent less.

Kilbourne returned the following evening to present “Deadly Persuasion: Advertising & Addiction” to an audience of about 250. The alcohol industry’s aim is to sell fantasy with the $3 billion it spends on advertising, Kilbourne says. Besides the fun and glamorous way that drinking alcohol is portrayed, her slides show how tobacco advertising implies that smoking helps young women to be thin. As older users die, according to Kilbourne, teens and young adults are the target audience for beer and cigarette ads. “The alcohol industry wants young people. The alcohol industry wants to hook them early.”

Her dual presentations were sponsored by a number of Bradley programs and organizations, including the Wellness Program, Women’s Studies, the Department of Athletics, and ICAC.

Kilbourne is the author of Can’t Buy My Love: How Advertising Changes the Way We Think and Feel, published by Simon & Schuster in 2000. The book was originally published in hardcover in 1999 as Deadly Persuasion: Why Women and Girls Must Fight the Addictive Power of Advertising. For more about the topics and extensive resource lists, visit