Fabulously Feminist Search Engine

Custom Search

Friday, November 7, 2008

Worth a Thousand Words

By Fabulously Feminist

"Advertisers in general bear a large part of the responsibility for the deep feelings of inadequacy that drive women to psychiatrists, pills, or the bottle".
-Marya Mannen

“By selectively regulating what we see, media influences how we perceive gender issues, ourselves, and men and women in general”.
-Julia T. Wood

For women, ads usually invoke the “the rhetoric of brokenness” (Valenti 205). They do so by creating unrealistic ideals of beauty in which normal women are grossly inadequate and deficient by comparison. This unrealistic and unattainable standard of beauty can be witnessed by simply thumbing through the pages of Glamour, Allure, and so forth, or by turning on the television. The models and celebrities used to hock goods are always perfect with sleek hair; acne and wrinkle-free skin; straight white teeth; perky breasts that defy gravity; bodies that are without an ounce of fat; and they are always young (and predominately white). It seems that the main reason creators of ads employ this tactic of brokenness/unattainable beauty is rooted in perpetuating consumerism.

As Jessica Valenti points out “consumerism is at the heart of beauty standards” (208). Ads send the message to women that without the product that they are schlepping women will remain deficient in beauty. Advertisers consciously want women to feel deficient about how they look so they will consume more products; ultimately, contributing more coins to the companies (both the ad agencies and their clients’) coffers. Therefore, continuing the stereotype that a majority of a woman’s worth is tied to her appearance is of the utmost importance for bringing in and maintaining profits.

Rather than focusing on deficiency when trying to sell men products, advertisers focus on the idea of authority and success (Renzetti and Curran 156). With the ultimate goal of getting men to consume, advertisements often use imagery which portrays success in the forms of occupational professionalism, wealth, having a hot car, and having “a sweet young thing” (Renzetti and Curran 155). This can be seen in the example Renzetti and Curran lay out in which a man in a suit lures over a young with a hamburger. He is portrayed as successful because through his purchase power he not only got lunch, he also got “a sweet young thing”. In this ad, the man is not valued because of his youth, face, or body, but rather he is valued because of his actions—he is judged by what he did.

Overall, advertisers are in the business of manipulating the idea of what it means to be masculine and what it means to be feminine in order to sell products. In this way advertisements “serve as gender socializers” (Renzetti and Curran 138). The stress on beauty and physical appearance of women is the primary way ads molds and defines the idea of what is femininity. They do so by reinforcing society’s stress on youth, beauty, physical size, breasts, etc. which conveys to women that their real value and role in society is to be attractive. Masculinity, on the other hand, is not about physical appearance, it is about action. Men and masculinity are defined in advertisements as being successful professionally, being wealthy, and acquiring the hot woman. Most advertisements also define masculinity in the stereotypical terms of aggression, competitiveness, and have a strong emphasis on sexual activity and conquest. To be masculine is to not care about how you look, it’s about being able to compete with the other guy and come out on top with the most toys and the hottest women.

No comments:

Post a Comment