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Fashion Magazines: Impact of Gender, Identity and Society

Media Assignment by Wing Kei (Charlotte) Lam

Wing Kei Lam

on 13 October 2012

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Transcript of Fashion Magazines: Impact of Gender, Identity and Society

Wing Kei Lam
Prof. Michael Petit
12 October 2012 Fashion Magazines:
Impact on Gender, Identity and Society By examining the articles, advertisements, and overall style and layout of the two magazines: Vogue and GQ, we can see that the magazines, or rather the corporation that owns these magazines, are creating false consciousness (i.e. false reality) to alienate the consumer in order to maximize capital. (Ott and Mack 36) The false reality that is created assures that the consumer forgets about the material-value of the products being advertised―the labour, value of materials to create the product, and so forth―and instead they are more concerned with the prestige and luxurious lifestyle that the products may bring (if one was to buy the product). The consumer enters a constant, vicious cycle of buying in order to fit in (i.e. social norms, gender stereotypes and identity) and to attain a certain status for himself. Not only can the corporation maximize profit by creating these false realities and affect the spending habits of consumers, but these magazines also affect the very definition of sexuality, and condition and impose specific “normal” gender roles and identities upon society―the target audience (Ott and Mack 39); the magazines mask its true, dark nature of being a giant advertisement with so-called articles that inform the reader of the latest trends or publishes articles dealing with politics. Examining these topics is important when trying to understand the relationship between media (fashion magazines), society, gender and identity. Although subtle (and sometimes not), it is apparent that GQ and Vogue promote social and behavioural “norms” upon men and women. The endless amount of advertisements featured in Vogue elicit a kind of need for the woman to conform to these norms. The women who are featured in these ads are often demure, weak, and are objectified, such as the ones in the Miu Miu and Coco Chanel advertisements. (Vogue 32-33, 59) In the Miu Miu ad, the model’s gaze is directed up and she appears dazed, her body position is open and suggestive, while the product itself―the bags―are lying upon her, the chains of the purses appear as though they are holding her in position rather than her holding the bags. It implies that women should be docile, and that the consumer should buy more: this is evident with the numerous bags being held by the model. In the Chanel ad, the product is being endorsed by actress Keira Knightley. Not only is this advertisement imposing the a certain gender role upon women, but also because she’s endorsing the perfume the consumer is encouraged to buy the product to “fit in” and it implies that if one we’re to use this product, they’ll become just as cool and beautiful as Knightley. Ads that are unrelated to fashion itself are also present, but also subtly enforces gender norms; the ad for the Samsung washing machine hints at the idea of associating domestic duties with women rather than men (Vogue 230), while men are to be adventurous and associate themselves with duties outside the home demonstrated with the ad for BMW cars. (GQ 97) Similarly to Vogue, GQ also promotes “norms” upon males. An advertisement for IZOD depicts male models dressed in the brand’s clothing and playing “masculine” sports such as rugby and lacrosse. (GQ 51-52) The ad encourages the male consumer to play sports with other males in order to fit into the male gender norms, but also implies that by wearing IZOD’s clothing, the consumer would be part of the stylish and posh lifestyle―common stereotype of the rich: the rich are play in expensive polo shirts, ties and belted slacks. The consumer forgets about the material value and labour required to make these products and chooses to emerge himself in consumption to divert his attention from the alienation caused by work. The articles featured in GQ and Vogue also influence how gender is viewed, albeit in a more subtle way than in the advertisements. The pictures that accompany the articles are advertisements themselves: product images or models [clad in the product] are accompanied by the brand names and even prices. (Vogue 117) The majority of the articles in Vogue are trend reports―articles highlight the latest hit trends women should indulge themselves in―and style guides. These articles promote both gender roles and lifestyles to the consumer; the consumer must stay on trend in order to fit in and attain the lavish lifestyle and also hint at the idea that women should just concern themselves with looking pretty and value themselves based on physical appearance rather than intelligence or skills. Like Vogue, GQ has articles that primarily focus on trends and style, but it also includes articles related to culture, politics and so forth. Comparing articles from both magazines, it is again hinted that men should concern themselves with worldly affairs (GQ 137, 210-211) while the women should just worry about domestic affairs and superficiality―again, encouraging the consumers to buy more and more by creating these false realities. The company that owns GQ and Vogue employs fashion advertisements and articles that mimic the stylish, luxurious lifestyle to create false realities that encourage the audience to continue to consume and strive for these realities that would in turn continue to profit the organization. These advertisements and articles encourage and impose traditional gender roles upon people as well. The very definition of gender and sexuality is constantly changing―or in this case; not―due to the great influence the media has on each and every generation. If we re-examine and put an effort into changing media, it is possible we can change social norms. Works Cited Gentlemen's Quarterly. Oct 2012: n. page. Print.

Vogue. Oct 2011: n. page. Print.

Ott, Brian, and Robert Mack. Critical Media Studies: An
Introduction. Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, 2010. Print.

Sut, Jhally. Killing Us Softly 3. 1999. video. YoutubeWeb.
12 Oct 2012. Killing Us Soft 3:
Documentary on Media and Gender Roles
Full transcript