Killing Us Softly 4

Killing Us Softly 4 A documentary exploring how advertising instils in women of all ages that they need to be beautiful, sexy, and super thin to achieve the ideal look
Film Trailer
Sut Jhally

The ideal female body. Her skin is unblemished; she has no wrinkles or scars, and indeed she has no pores. It’s what the advertising industry will have you believe. But the truth is that the ideals of the female body have been used as a thing or object to sell us values, love, sexuality and more importantly, normalcy.

Girls learn from a young age that they must spend enormous amounts of time and money to achieve the ideal look. And it inevitable that most women will fail in their quest for perfection due to the perception is based on absolute flawlessness.

Not even supermodels achieve it. “I wish I looked like Cindy Crawford.” – Cindy Crawford.

In Killing Us Softly 4, Jean Kilbourne discusses how advertising is persuading women of all ages that they need to be beautiful, sexy, and skinny.

She warns that dehumanising the female body can result in low self-esteem and the feeling of worthlessness. Jean advises that new generations should take women in advertising seriously, pay attention and think critically about popular culture, and realise that advertising has an effect on us all.

The documentary also explores the increasing objectification of men in the media and the damaging implications of treating a person as a commodity or an object.

Killing Us Softly 4 2010 documentary movie feature image, click play to watch stream online for free

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  • stef0608

    An amazing documentary.

  • Pulenga Nelson

    really changed how i think about media and really opened my mind to how today’s generation thinks and acts. Amazing document, truely moved by Jean’s message.

  • Thank you thank you thank you for the work you have been doing on this topic. I will recommend to all the parents in my Kids in Harmony workshops (middle school kids and their parents) that they watch this together and discuss it.

  • dani

    great documentary! keep it up!

  • Ryan Brown

    Well, now I hate society even more.

  • deadpopstar

    I saw this a while back & then the final cut, which begins to mention how the same thing is starting to happen with men as well. I thought it was an outstanding documentary, full of spot on points. One thing was it only focused on the advertising aspect, which is a Very large part; but the entire picture of how women are NOT treated/viewed as equal in the US & other countries isn’t brought up. Well on a forum promoting this film, another one was promoted, that I watched this morning, called Miss Representation. (here is a great trailer for it: This film brought up the ENTIRE picture & discussed the advertising aspect (Jean Kilbourne has parts in it) as well as politics and other Very Important things that need to be brought up. Anyone who enjoyed & agrees with the crucial points being discussed in Killing Us Softly; I HIGHLY recommend this documentary to as well! 🙂



  • Thank you for this amazing speech. The information is incredibly valuable and every woman should watch it.

  • Nikolay

    Despite the feminism which is irritating, very good public speaker and very good facts and images. I am doing a slideshow presentation on this topic myself, but not as a female activist but as a counter media/advertising activist.

    • Fanny

      can you explain what you find irritating with this feminist stance?

  • Wow!! Amazing documentary, everything she said is true.

  • I’m a tad bit confused. She’s complaining about how skewed advertisements have become, yet she’s been in cigarette ads wearing skimpy soccer jerseys with her legs spread open.

    And the number one epidemic in America is obesity–what’s wrong with scaring kids into being skinny?

    • Some people aren’t built to be skinny, and never will be skinny. Some people can be big and perfectly healthy, because that is what is in their genes. Skinny isn’t a great word. What’s wrong with scaring people into being healthy and not an extreme of 600+ pounds, or only skin and bones? Not much. But each person is healthy at a different BMI. Each person needs a different percentage of calories, and carbs, and all that. Sometimes it’s based on the body you want to have, and sometimes it’s based on life style alone.

      There’s some skinny people out there, and they are that way naturally, and by no means would I tell them to ‘EAT SOMETHING!’ and give them a complex just because they are below the ‘average’ of body weight. And there are some people out there who are larger, and will always be larger, and I wouldn’t tell them to go on a diet. Because they have no control over their own genes.

      We should be educating children, and people in general, to be healthy. To maintain a healthy weight, whatever that may be for them personally, based on height, and genes, and all of that. Not scaring them.

      And don’t use things she may have done in the past, before she became informed or opened her eyes, against her. Sure she did those things. But I’m certain she looked back at those ads she did herself and felt much the same things she felt about all the other ads. The ways they skewed the public opinion, how they skewed the view of women, etc. I’m certain she wasn’t modeling at the time when she realized how skewed the ads were. It likely came some time after.

    • Tina

      What ads has Jean Kilbourne been in?

    • g

      because its fucking unhealthy, idiot. obesity is not ok. the “scaring into skinny” we’re talking about is about eating disorders and mental issues from society’s skinny obsession. obesity is horrible and there are ways to go about dieting and treatment that are much, much healthier

  • nowhere

    no4… says it all really women keep on at the feminist thing relentlessly, its funny really in a similar vein men must have been coerced through masculine ideals to kill each other for thousands of years in brutal and horrendous ways, yet we just see this as part of human nature, women however see it as a conspiracy to take away their power. Modern advertising and PR has indeed sculpted a feminine ideal but it is precisely the reason they have more power. Because through your consumtion you help fuel corporate institutions that create that very ideal. Your purchasing behaviour creates employment and jobs and therefore political power in the industry you support, which then creates advertising to help support its brand image.

    SO in-short stfu and go buy another pair of shoes or skin tight leggings. Because your consumer behaviour is what is fuelling and reinforcing your stereotypes nothing else. They don’t make things unless people WANT TO BUY THEM.

    And you want to buy them to look sexier than the girl next to you, because this make you more powerful than her, i.e. more likely to have kids who are successful and healthy etc. HUMAN NATURE PLAIN AND SIMPLE.

  • oho

    why the f… is this removed “for its content”
    it was up yesterday, I’m really hoping moderate feminism doesn’t mark it as innapropriate

    • Maryam

      Is the full version removed?
      I need it!

  • AleshaW

    I absolutely loved the trailer for this video! Great work!!

  • JF

    What happened to the full version!? I need it for classes I teach and now it is gone.

  • Cynthia

    The full version is gone again! is there any way it could be re posted?!

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  • sn

    Overall great, however, a bit confused. she mentions how only skinny girls are involved in ad campaigns, and implies the fact that every body type should be ok for girls to love themselves more. yet talks about how the girl holding croissants should “eat them” because she can see her ribs. Same thing as the ad in the magazine saying that “fat is bad”

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