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Female Representation in Advertisements
Transcript of Female Representation in Advertisements
Dove's 'Real Beauty' Campaign
Victoria's Secret 'Perfect Body' Ads
Pamela Anderson for PETA
While Dove's 'Real Beauty' campaign did receive positive feedback and was praised by the general public, the campaign still can be seen as unethical. The campaign highlights women of several different ethnicities as well as shapes and sizes, but the images still manage to exclude a wide group of women (most of the women pictured are relatively within the same size, and this excludes more slender women as well as women who are traditionally larger). The campaign also implies that the image of these woman is the epitome of 'Real Beauty,' thoroughly excluding the groups of women that are not represented in the photos.
This ad for PETA is highly unethical not only because it literally compares Pamela Anderson with cows, but because she is also extremely objectified and sexualized in a way that portions off her body as if she's an assemblage of separate lust-worthy pieces of flesh instead of an actual person. The ad has nothing to do with the actual vegetarian focus and needlessly portrays Pamela Anderson as an object.
This Victoria's Secret campaign offended many by portraying their models as the one and only 'perfect body,' completely erasing women who do not fit into this image.
American Apparel Marketing
These various ads depict American Apparel's difference in representation very clearly. While the white male is covered up in normal clothing, the woman is incredibly sexualized by her spread-leg position and 'Now Open' headline.
The black man is also clothed and not sexualized compared to the woman, but his portrayal in this ad is also unethical--the only ads that black men have starred in for American Apparel are working ads (which feeds into classist and racist portrayals of black men).
Believe it or not, this image is actually one of the more tame female advertisements used by American Apparel.
This advertisement literally superimposes the image of a car with a girl's face, implying that her only worth as far as 'ultimate attraction' is her body. She is dehumanized n this aspect, and the car is given more importance in the ad than the woman's own agency.
Tom Ford Fragrance Ad
This is an ad for a men's fragrance, 'Tom Ford For Men.' However, the only thing visible in the photo other than the small fragrance bottle, is the breasts of the model and half of their face. There is no correlation between the model and the fragrance except for the idea that they are both being portrayed as things 'For Men.'
The model, in this image, is reduced to her status as a pair of breasts and lips. Her significance lies in the idea that her body is something that can also be marketed for men, and in doing this she is thoroughly objectified.
Abercrombie & Fitch
Even though this image is not an advertisement, it feeds into the overall unethical cycle that eventually leads to the unfair portrayal of girls in Abercrombie's ads (pictured below). This bathing suit top was sold through the Abercrombie kids department (ages 7+) and marketed as a 'push up triangle' bikini top, and despite immediate backlash the company continued to sell the product. The unethical implications of this point to the early sexualization of very young girls, a phenomenon that simultaneously solidifies the idea that the worth of these girls simply lies in how they look and how they are presented.
These young girls are the same ones who enter the store and are bombarded with images like this one, which may not be unethical in itself but works to terribly shape the minds of the young girls who are exposed to Abercrombie's push up products. By excessively accentuating a model's breasts in their advertisements and simultaneously pushing the sale of push up bikinis in their kids department, Abercrombie emphasizes the importance of appearance in children as young as 7, forcing them to consider themselves as visual objects. The combination of the two images and their effect on young girls earn the top spot on my most unethical advertisement spectrum.
I decided to focus my ethics project on the representation and sexualization of women within the realm of American advertisements. Throughout this sequence I examine several advertisements (some I have encountered personally, and some that I stumbled across while searching) for their ethical issues regarding the portrayal of women in America. Some of these effects have negative impacts based on race, some have negative impacts based on age, and others have negative impact based on the female groups that are excluded and not represented within the photographs. I think this sequence of ethical consideration allowed me to analyze how women are portrayed in society in a more critical manner, and ranking these advertisements from most ethical to least ethical created a framework for me to judge how this portrayal may affect younger female generations.
Demi Moore Perfume Ad
This perfume ad represents the troubling use of photoshop on women within American advertisements. Most notably, Demi Moore's skin is lightened significantly, her breasts are enlarged, and her face is touched up. Photoshopping in this way is unethical not only because it enforces beauty standards that are simply not real, but also because it changes fundamental aspects of a person's natural appearance that are continuously regarded as negative in our culture (i.e. darker skin).
The AerieREAL campaign is the best advertisement I could find that was ethical, authentic, and a good portrayal of women in media. None of the photos are retouched and the women are not excessively sexualized despite their lingerie modeling. The brand is marketed towards teens/tweens as well, allowing for positive examples of women that aren't inauthentic or sexualized.