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