Women In Advertising

This essay has a total of 2438 words and 9 pages.

Women In Advertising



The Oppression of Females in Advertising in our society is a complex collection of institutions, status, roles, values, and norms, and the best way to understand and learn about them is through the use of cultural artifacts. These can be anything from music to art to literature, or as in the example of this discussion, the modern day creation of advertisement in mass media. As Homo Sapiens moved from the hunter - gatherer way of life to industrial society, it was necessary to construct a framework for living so that such a concentrated number of people could exist together. This framework as come to consist of a myriad of expectations based on values and norms in the form of roles status and institutions. Desirable behavior is sought by people throughout the country based on how one is brought up and the expectations one is bombarded with on a daily basis. These expectations are reflected in every part of our culture and are used by people so as to know how to act in any given situation. The main examples are the family, education, health and medicine, religion, and the law. I have found that certain mediums reflect the expected roles in these institutions better than others. I originally focused on gender roles as a depiction of stereotypical behavior as reflected by advertising especially the portrayal of women, but I discovered that there were other stereotypes being perpetuated as well that were just as institutionalized if not just simply less noticed or studied. Therefore, although this argument will focus on the depiction of females and the female role in advertising. It will also mention the general use of American values, norms, and institutions to influence consumer.
An institution is defined as "a stable cluster of values, norms, status, roles, and groups that develop around a basic social need" with a status being a person's position in society and a role being the behavior expected from that, and a value being a socially shared idea of what is good, right, and desirable and a norm being the behavior expected from those ideas. When people begin to form certain expectations in life there begin to be formed stereotypes. People recognize them universally and use them to form opinions and act or not act in a certain way when they are confronted with a situation or person. It is "human nature" to fear the unknown and cling to the familiar, and desire to fit in but want to stand out at the same time. It is from here that advertising finds its most potent weapons. By focusing on these culturally formed stereotypes they can explicitly affect people, and by feeding on these implicitly realized characteristics of people they can also affect behavior . This seems relatively harmless to the advertiser who simply wants to sell his product, but it becomes harmful when it begins to perpetuate certain undesirable stereotypes to the point of cementing them in impressionable minds. Thus I will further differentiate the discussion presented here into the use of institutions that I do not find as harmful as others.
Understanding that the perpetuation of any stereotype is bad in that it robs people of the chance to form original opinions without the hindrance of preconceived notions, but I strongly feel that specific depiction's like that of "the myth of women" need to be eradicated first and foremost because of its direct halt of progress. That's not to say that advertising has not changed somewhat with the changing of women's roles and opportunities in the 1990's. Society ,and specifically men, can accept the need and desire for women to work outside the home, but they still expect them to be mothers who keep everything together in the home. The portrayal of women can be broken down into several categories. First is the idea of beauty. Generally about 85% of all advertisements are devoted to the beautification of women's hair, face, and body. Women are bombarded with airbrushed, perfectly lit, constantly happy shots of gorgeous models that portray every ideal of our society. The content of ads that I have obsereved over and over again were makeup, perfume, breast centered, and skin.
Women are not expected to be presentable without the help of the latest chemical technique to remove blemishes, darken eyes, lengthen lashes, coat the lips, clean their hair, and remove shine. Regardless of one's natural features, they will never be good enough without these alterations. The company that promotes this attitude the best was Maybelline: "maybe she's born with it. Maybe it's Maybelline" is their prime slogan. Some women have LIPS as SMOOTH as they talk. So SUPPLE so luscious they make anything sound fascinating. Gift of nature? Get real" The quotes could go on, but I think the message is clear; one could never be naturally attractive to society without the help of makeup and their advertisements lead to this sub conscious understanding.
Next is the depiction of perfumes. The basic concepts behind perfume ads are of sex, intimacy, exotic drugs, and escape from reality. Without the use of perfume one could never attract a man. By portraying the scents as some sort of exotic reward they seem to insinuate that one will be completely irresistible. Names such as: Candy, Obsession, Poison, etc. . . are typical examples. Then there are those examples utilizing a different but no less potent theme as with the perfume Escape. These ads target the less wild side of women and depict the beautiful serene young bride in an affluent house, often with a small child gazing admiringly at her. No base human desire is left unexplored in this industry.
Then there are the actual models. These women break the school girl norm that the average women was brought up holding true. The models reveal a plethora of flesh not accepted as norm within this society, and still t
This leads into the last thing that needs to be discussed. The portrayal of beauty and supposed desirable behavior depicted in everyday advertisements is not only unrealistic but almost virtually unattainable. The models are women of exceptional good looks that are obviously not the average American female; they have been painted, sprayed , teased , lighted, angled, and touched up to give the perfect image, and it is ridiculous for females to feel like failures if they do not look similar. But many do. I feel that this is where the societal tragedies associated with eating disorders, silicone breast implants, cosmetic surgery, etc. . . stem from. Eating disorders are exceptionally high in young females. Constantly showering women with a desirable image that they cannot hope to attain is unfair, wrong and irresponsible of corporations.
Next is the concept of women as objects. Within the courses that I have taken, there has been the theme of women as mysterious, unknown creatures associated more with nature than man, who is considered associated with culture. This can be put in the category of the implicit almost subconscious themes in advertising. The depiction of women on pedestals, frozen in time and space, untouchable, is very common. Women are also often associated with wild animals, exotic scenes and far away places, putting them in the same out - of - reach, mysterious category. This once again is forming

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