What is Perfection?: The Halo Effect

Sean Johnson


English 3

Ms. Pahomov

What is Perfection: the Halo Effect

The beauty advertisment industry is conscienceless. It is a complex system which dependant and cares about profit more than anything.  In order to make this profit, the people who create successful advertisements must be very intelligent, especially when it comes to manipulation of the average person’s desires. Through advertisements and subtle input, beauty adverts has successfully created a “Halo effect” around their products. A Halo effect that shines only on the pretty or attractive, while casting a shadow upon the average or ugly. The Halo effect has a negative impact on one considered conventionally average or  ugly, because through the relentless advertisements, we taught that pretty is perfect.

When most people describe beauty, it usually revolves around five human features, things such as symmetry of the face and body, a thin or athletic build, a big posterior or genitalia, large chests, and long customizable hair. These traits are deemed to be perfect which is what causes the Halo effect. This effect is most easily described as when something or someone is perceived as superior to another person or thing based on a certain trait or a certain few traits. This is a problem due to how tiny the percentage of people is who actually fit the ideal standard for their gender, in fact, only 1 in 5,000 people are generally considered “hot” (Business Insider). This problem leads to depression at a premature age and feelings of self doubt and inadequateness. The likelihood of feeling this way has and will only increase due to the accessibility of the internet and exposure to more and more potentially harmful types of advertisements. Children will have to learn to ignore the abundance of ads or suffer from the feelings of inadequacy.

The Fashion Advertising industry is very conscious when it comes to the subtlety of their adverts. Contrary to what many may think, building the image of the perfect person takes time and repetition, most commercials tend to add hints of the models body, before doing a full body shot to push the idea of an ideal body type. A side effect from this comes at the cost of the models mental health . According to a study lead by the huffington post, 64% of models have been asked by their modelling agencies to lose weight , 31% also admitting to having eating disorders because of it.. Creating the high standard for health manifests as a double edged blade that hurts the model, and the consumer.

Social media is a place where people of any skin tone or age can interact and share memories, experiences and ideas. But social media like Instagram and Facebook also serve as a medium for subtle advertisements especially when it comes to beauty. It is estimated that the average person visually consumes around 2,000 beauty advertisements per day. This usually has a massive affect on the mind of young teens, the majority being female. Studies have found that at least 27% of young females when asked if they felt pressured to be pretty by advertisements replied yes, due to the constant bombardment coming from beauty pages on Instagram and even the spam magazines that are delivered to homes, contribute to this lowered self esteem in young adults.

This effect reaches more than just self-esteem. According to a study conducted by Daniel Hamermesh, author of the Title “Beauty Pays,” above average looking people tend to receive 3-4% more on their annual salary than what an “uglier” person would usually make. This inequitable percentage can start to add up over time, and in their lifetime a normally perceived “good” looking person will receive up to 230,000 dollars more than their “ugly” counterpart. Even an average looking person will receive at least 140,000 dollars more in their lifetime (WSJ). Daniel Hamermesh often expresses that uglier people shouldn’t go into occupations where a professional look matters, like sales and modelling because of this injustice when it comes to getting paid. This harsh reality is all the fabrication of the Halo effect that humans created.

The Halo effect is responsible for the wide gap in pay as well as depression in some young adults, but the Halo effect is man made and was perfected over the many years that it has existed.  If the masses stopped to think about it, they would realize that beauty is not just about looks and features, but marketing as well. People should not see beauty or perfection as something that people are born with, but instead they should see it as something that is exclusively within the eye of the beholder. So if the population wants this system to change, then they have to change it themselves.

Works Cited


Ries., Al, and Al Ries Al Ries is chairman of Ries & Ries, an Atlanta-based marketing strategy firm he runs with his daughter and partner Laura.. “Understanding Marketing Psychology and the Halo Effect.” Ad Age, 17 Apr. 2006, adage.com/article/al-ries/understanding-marketing-psychology-halo-effect/108676/. Accessed 21 Sept. 2017.


Shellenbarger, Sue. “On the Job, Beauty Is More Than Skin-Deep.” The Wall Street Journal, Dow Jones & Company, 27 Oct. 2011, www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052970203687504576655331418204842. Accessed 21 Sept. 2017.


“Beauty...and the Beast of Advertising.” Beauty...and the Beast of Advertising | Center for Media Literacy, www.medialit.org/reading-room/beautyand-beast-advertising. Accessed 21 Sept. 2017.


Rudder, Christian. “Surprising Statistics About Hot People Versus Ugly People.” Business Insider, Business Insider, 13 Jan. 2011, www.businessinsider.com/surprising-statistics-about-hot-people-versus-ugly-people-2011-1. Accessed 21 Sept. 2017.

Comments (7)

Alan Li (Student 2019)
Alan Li

This 2fer helped convince me that there are negative effects of the Halo Effect that I have not noticed before. Before reading this 2fer, I thought of the Halo Effect as a positive aspect of psychology.

Wedage DeSilva (Student 2019)
Wedage DeSilva

SEAN, THAT LAST SENTENCE WAS SO GOOD. Seriously, this was a very inspiration essay in a way because you were able to put a lot of thought into it. I can see this being a debatable issue as well.

Alexandrea Rivera (Student 2019)
Alexandrea Rivera

I really enjoyed reading this 2fer not only because I love reading about these kinds of topics or discussions but because there was a lot of information that I did not know about. I didn't know anything about people getting paid less than others because they were seen as "ugly". Very good job!!!!!

Raymond Rochester-Pitts (Student 2019)
Raymond Rochester-Pitts

First off I have known you for about 13 years and didnt know that this was something that you have put thought in to. Great work! I am for sure convinced by the statements made in your essay.

What made this a topic that you wanted to look into?

Aysha Siddiquee (Student 2019)
Aysha Siddiquee

This 2fer gave me a better insight and understanding when it comes to beauty and stastics and the way that it is has an affect on humans and as well as statistically all that goes into the idea of beauty. This makes me question the change of beauty and in beauty throughout centuries, decades and years.

Olivia Musselman (Student 2019)
Olivia Musselman

This taught me a lot about this subject and how I personally perceive beauty. It makes me wonder how this specific ideal came to be and how the ideals of beauty have changed over time.