Saturday, October 23, 2010

MID TERM MEETING *important!!

MidTerm Meetings Women and the Media

Monday 11/1 1pm - 4pm

1:00 Asna
1:15 bobby
1:30 quincy
1:45 Jenn
2:30 sanya
3:00 lenis
3:15 nicholas
3:30 hubert

8:00pm LISA

Wednesday 11/3 1pm - 4pm

1:00 lorraine
1:15 Jonathan
1:30 Tanya
1:45 Sun Cheon
2:30 jing
3:15 belal

3:45 sherma

saturday 11/6

1:00 alexa
1:15 wuta
1:30 desmond
1:45 lori
5:00 ihsan
5:15 Vanessa
5:30 Desi

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Gender as a tangible good?

I always understood 'masculinity' and 'femininity' to pertain more to character traits more than anything, but growing up with many forms of media surrounding me, it seemed more like something you strive to achieve and that 'masculine' and 'feminine' were consumer products. Scents to enhance, clothes to make presentable, lifestyles to mold, and it didn't seem like these products could be shared between sexes. It became apparent that gender is marketable.

Not only that, but these ad's seemed to dictate social cues and an power hierarchy through these gender roles they presented. Men appear confident, with rock-hard bodies that you can't get to the surface of, as if the products they're shown with wards off intruders and women appear submissive, as 'blank slates, with the commercialized products shown as essential accessories. The message I received was men are meant to be intimidating, while women should be pursued. Men are strong, women are weak. Unsettling.

Advertisements have already implemented ideals for each gender in our society, so to put a man who appears meek and gentle and a woman who appears strong and confident, could easily (and likely) make the audience question its contents and intents. Consumers want to buy 'masculinity' and 'femininity' and there's already a pre-conceived picture of what that is, to change the image will change the product's appeal. So, what is there to do? How about stripping away the promoted 'promise' of masculinity and femininity as a product's effect? It's tricky, because 'masc' and 'fem' have become so closely linked to one's gender, that if a gender-specific product were to be advertised without, people could be reluctant to purchase the item.

Make all products gender-neutral? Well, that's just silly. Men do not need tampons and I don't know a woman who needs a beard trimmer. Removing the 'spokesperson'? Possible, but I doubt would ever be favourable. Consumers want to see the results of the product before they purchase it, and the absence of a result would likely make the on-looker suspicious.

This problem is so lodged in us internally, that I feel a change in advertising would not alleviate it completely. These ad's are certainly adding fuel to the fire, but the fire was previously lit from a different source. Our society created these norms and companies are marketing off of them. If all the companies that have publicly distorted and commercialized gender 'ideals' through advertisements were to be boycotted, there would be no purchasable products left. If an alternative company that didn't resort to these stereotypes and ways of advertising were to be introduced, it could possibly flounder, because of the competition it has.

To remove all these social cues that advertising presents for us to obtain tangibly, I believe it has to start at stopping the marketing of 'femininity' and 'masculinity' as a product you can purchase. How do we get there though?

I say we're hopeless.

Both Faces

Dove is internationally well known, a Unilever brand of soap and other personal care products. Before, 2003, they were devising each individual marketing strategy for each country. However, They could not conquer the cultural difference and it was a turning point to change their marketing strategy standardized. Dove was launching advertisement campaign called ‘Campaign for Real Beauty’ and it attracted public attention. The strategy is like this.

1. Tick Box Advertisement.

The models in the campaign are not the professional models and consumers were shocked that the company chose a 97 year old women. The advertisement includes the check box to decide the questions, such as “wrinkled?” or “wonderful?”, and consumers could see the result at the same time.

2. Self-Esteem Fund.

They also made a project “Body Talk’, which is a lecture about what the real beauty is, to make young girls have self-confidence about their looks.

1. Online Video.

Dove filmed Evolution, and Onslaught and they uploaded in on Youtube. They were able to obtain advertising effect by this and Evolution received the grand prize at the advertising festival.

This can be good example to alternative for other companies. That is a new way of making advertisement without any sexism, or racism in the advertisement. As the writer of Beauty and the Beast of Advertising states "Growing older is the great taboo", Dove tells us how to think outside of the box and shows the natural beauty. They are using different ways to communicate with consumers.

The old style of advertisement is using a woman who is a white, blond, skinny, poreless, or wrinkleless, and people cannot obtain it. Because consumers have seen the old style of advertisement for a long time, some people may not want to see the new style of advertisement. People who used to the old style scribbled on the Dove poster. It says, “I hate my agent”, and “Fat girls can be corporate shills, too”

I remember that Dove conducted the same campaign and used the same advertisement in Korea in 2005. However, In the present day, their advertisement seems to go back to the old-fashioned style. As writer says in the article of Culture,"The definition of perfection, however, changes with the needs of employers, politicians, and, in the postwar economy that depended on spiraling consumption, advertisers.”, the company change their strategy to satisfy people's view in Korea; they engage the popular beautiful actress to promote the new products. People in US think they are doing positive things for people but it is only for specific targets which is irony.

X3 why

Ads that contain sexism and racism actually do so much damage to culture than they would like to admit. They force opinions onto spectators that eat up these images. Using trends and current opinions they figure out what is most convenient for the customer and go what is working in the market.
It is sad because there are women who are fighting against sexism, while there are those who do not care where they stand, and indirectly or directly support sexism. Models who agree to be looked at and be the unhealthy standard of beauty.
When women first fully entered the workforce, and men started coming back from the war, women faced a media force dominated by men. There was an assumption that women would gladly go back to being housewives when men came back from the war. The advertisers were wrong, a survey taken during 1944 found that women did not want to go back to doing housework.Advertisers faced a crises. They had normally focused on selling women household items which planted the idea that if they bought these products they created the perfect house, they would be the perfect women.
Advertisers thought of a strategy to continuing having a market in women. Instead of selling the perfect house, they now sold products that helped women get the "perfect body". They targeted the insecurities of women. If they aren't pretty or have the "perfect body" they would no be attractive. If they can't be attractive they will not be able to get married and find someone they love. This strategy included the idea if they used these products, they will be "liberated" women, which targeted women supporting the women's movement. That using a product will empower themselves against men by looking pretty. Magazines that glorified the "perfect body" helped mold young adult minds to have something to identify with which helped create a future market for more money. The ultimate goal for advertisements that essentially trapped and put women down is for money and profits.
A way to have an alternative to these media images is to have more informed women and informing them at a young age. Using parodies of companies or even just telling the truth behind their products can be a step to open the eyes of many women.

It's not OK to be stupid

When I saw this Ad on New York Street, and people literally stop and watch it. I was so angry.  The original Ad says: “Smart may have the brain, but stupid has the balls.” And it’s also told to “be stupid”. I change it to “Smart may have the bra, but stupid has to do it.”

Do those “Mad men” think we are all stupid? “The global jeans manufacturer is assuring that there is nothing dumb about being stupid.It is sure that the brightest ideas appear in the heads of those who are not afraid to express themselves. They create this desirable image to link Diesel’s Jeans with the message of “It’s COOL to be STUPID”. Stupid is their well thought strategy.  When I saw a lot of people stop on the street and look at this ad.  Am sure the company is not stupid to do it. So, Who is stupid here?

First of all, the message in this Ad – “Smart may have the brain, but stupid has the balls.” It separates women in two categories “women are allowed Mind, or body. But not both.” This ad is clear to speak to “body” girls. The ad tells them relation ship is built on balls. Stupid is new, cool way to catch boys. I change it to “Stupid Has to do it “ is because this is all they have, little boobs and ugly jeans, Nothing else. The most importantly “It’s not OK to be Stupid”. The male society wants us to be stupid, because it’s easer for them to control, to take advantage. Women need wear our brain with us all the time, we can’t allow this happen.
This AD is very appeal to Male audience. The idea may seem stupid, However, It fallow the strategy of The "Male Gaze" which rules the advertising world over decades. However, This ad clearly speaks to “Stupid male” category. The ad doesn’t want male audiences to think, it wants them react with basic instinct. In a word – “they want you be stupid, and happy to be stupid.” Not only men have peeking desire.
It’s especially terrible for their target customers.  Diesel targets on young adults and teenager market, It’s educate future generation to accept stupid actions. They want you to stay in their stupid ads. By telling you it’s cool to be stupid. “Sex sells, stupid sells,” the major goal of this ad is catch people’s attention, so they win.
After our readings, I learn that ads are reflections of our society, and our desire. The reason this kind if ads become main street ads, actually shows we have large number of audience buy stupid ideas.

Artificial Images

Almost every commercial that we see on TV or in a magazine portrays a beautiful young woman selling a certain product. Regardless of her ethnicity the woman pictured in the commercial is always thin, has a flawless skin, beautiful hair and gorgeous face. Most of these women that we see in the commercials are just perfect and it is hard to find any flaws. The way they smile, the way they talk...And of course the way they look.
But what exactly do we understand by perfect. Are the women really that beautiful, is that their true personality that we see on the screen. Are Victoria’s Secret Angels really angels? I think that it will take you no more than five minutes to answer that question. Because we all know that most of the images that we see are fake, artificially created and are not close to reality at all.
I was lucky enough to see how most of these “perfect “women were created. I did an internship in a company that was specializing in retouching. This experience changed my life in many ways. Growing up as a teenager I was exposed to all different commercials portraying beautiful women. As any other teenager, I developed certain insecurities about the way I look. I would spend hours to look for the “right “makeup that will help me to achieve that flawless look. However, there was always something that I wanted to fix, there was always something missing.
I am realizing now that I was missing my real self. I was trying to look like one of these women on the commercials without realizing that this is impossible. These women do not really exist. 99% of the images that we see are artificially created. I have seen more than hundreds of pictures before and after they have been retouched. I often could not believe that it is the same person that I see.
The advertising industry is not playing a fair game. How is it even possible to look like someone that does not even exist? The flawless skins, the long eyelashes, the pink plump lips that we see on the billboards surrounding us are not real. I am convinced that we all know that. However, growing up as a teenager you want to believe that everything you see is real, you are hardly trying to look like one of these perfect women that you see on TV. Teenage girls are extremely sensitive; they are in a process of shaping their personality. They become victims right away, struggling to achieve that magical, flawless look...
The advertising industry should take responsibility for its actions. We have seen enough retouched images of “super-women”. I think that it is about time to see the real image of woman. I think that advertising industry should start showing images that are not retouched. Also there should be a note below any retouched image. The note should say: “Attention this image has been retouched. It is not a realistic image. “I believe that once the message is out there, right next to the picture that we see we will look at it different. Time for change has come.

Reading, Writing, 'rithmetic and Media studies

In my very first post, I wrote that I hate the Media. Not the technology itself, but the mechanisms, namely the men and the structures created to mold the minds of those who partake from their muddied waters. Ultimately, the advertising industry's goal is to engender malcontent where there was contentment; a want, when there was no need or initial desire. A consistent materialism. Yet, we see that the images that are used to condition us and nurture us have in an overall sense been such that confine and degrade us. And like a Stockholm syndrome, we perpetuate this negativity amongst ourselves. We circulate the drug pushed into our veins, and yearn for the temporary high that "things" bring, but will crash again eventually.

In Susan Bordo's Hunger as Ideology, we see how the images in the media silo men and women. As clear as it is that many men are good cooks and enjoy doing it, it is seen as the realm of the woman unless it is for money-making purposes. This makes men apprehensive to learn to do this essential part of life. Jon Berger points out how woman are groomed by western society to be ubiquitously concerned with how she is perceived and to fit into the whimsy of men of power's view of beauty at that time. Bordo mentions how culturally, there have been admiration for more voluptuous women in many different places, but the pervasive views coming from western society has affected even those places.

How can this be changed? How can we reach the point where we as content to show positive imagery? Where we do not seek to mislead? Where we do not become automatons?

Start by word of mouth. High Fructose corn syrup and trans fats began to take a hit because people began to shout out about how detrimental they are (though the actuality is slightly debatable, with regard to HFCS, at least). They cost less to produce, but because large numbers of people were refusing to spend their money on these products, companies were forced to change. It won't be any different with the current state of advertising. They will continue to produce whatever we are willing to accept. And as we give them the leeway by feigning that advertising doesn't affect us, they will continue to fool us.

Using word of mouth, we need to make people aware of the influence that the media really has. From there, we need to push for the addition of Media awareness to the elementary school curriculum. From childhood, people need to be able to discern and analyze what is being given to them as social reality just as much as they need to know that 4 + 4 is 8. School is supposed to teach us how to learn, not what to learn. It is supposed to build within us the ability to analyze and put critical thinking to use.

In the United States justice system, there is one, simple, clear counter-argument to libel. The TRUTH is the absolute defense to defamation. It is also the case with negativity in advertising. To quote Bordo's poignant words: "Today, all we view as meaningful is appearances." Now that we have the power to push the truth of reality, we must!

Truths like: It's ok and even HEALTHY to be a little chubby.

You don't NEED makeup, or a perm or external factors to be beautiful. They are simply like garnish on a meal, but not a prerequisite for beauty. A strong woman, as pictured above, is also still beautiful. To be happy with what we have and enjoy our differences. And to make sure that such viewpoints are passed on to our children, and at the same time is not viewed as just childish thinking.

We have to stop being solely consumers. But we need to be selective, and positive contributors.

Beautiful Betty

Ugly Betty is a TV show about a girl named Betty, who is a very good-hearted young girl who unfortunately lacks a fashion sense. She scores a job at Mode, a fashion magazine as a secretary. She works for the Chief editor Daniel who is a very attractive guy. Premise of the show is pretty simple; Betty is working with Fashion editors and designers and surrounded by models, and they show is trying to show the contrast between her looks and others, as well as their judgements on her.

Betty acts as an everyday person in this show and portrays a character of insecurities. She definitely feels different than other women because of her looks, because she is surrounded by models. Looking at these models, she questions her beauty and compares herself to them, questioning what she is doing in that kind of environment.

Her awareness of the surrounding also makes her more self conscious. She deliberately tries to get close to her boss, Daniel, finding him really attractive. However, seeing all the rivalry that surrounds her, she finds it hard to get closer to him. Many times, she does manage to get his attention by not trying to look attractive, but for her good behavior.

Betty's other main portrayal besides the "ugliness" is her good-heartness. She is very naive and she always expects goodness from people. Even though many people take advantage of her behavior, others really appreciate that and leave her looks behind and she her as a person, not an object.

She makes up a perfect anti-hero kind of a character. She is definitely not flawless, however her behavior and goodness makes up for it. This gives the audience the message- looks don't always mattes, it's the behavior that matters. This also conflicts with the title of the show "Ugly Betty". The title itself gives the audience the impression what Betty "looks" like. However, her true face really shows if the show is watched. She is actually quite beautiful inside. It's quite a stunt to be able to call her ugly, because it gets people's attention. However, the show proves its title wrong.

Circles of Learning

As I began to think about how we as a society can remold the ideologies that currently surround advertisement, I realized that as a little fish in a media pond, I can never compete with these billion dollars advertisement companies. I could stop wearing Dolce& Gabbana and probably get 100 people to boycott companies that use advertising to trick young men and women in accepting false gender roles, but to truly make a change it starts with what we teach our kids. How can we teach little boys who by a young age already have a warped idea of what masculinity looks like and little girls who are forced to accept predestined ideas of beauty and womanhood? The solution, start from the ground up. If children are seeing these images from the moment they wake up, we as a society must be prepared to constantly talk about them. Decompress these complex advertisements, and show children how it is used to form their beliefs.
Although this isn’t a panacea of the self-image problem, it is a way to get children into the conversation that is usually being had without them. If they can ask the questions, “Why don’t they use women who look like my mom?” or “what makes a complete person, and what do these products really offer us?” we could better inform our children on what is being subliminally drilled into their impressionable minds.
Although ads should be changed to feature all types of people and send a better message to our youth, this will only fix the issue on the surface. As an educator, I truly feel the change needs to happen in the classroom. Trying to go challenge companies with counter- ads will ultimately lead to failure, however if we can challenge these warped ideals by giving our children more knowledge and awareness, we can essentially change these long standing advertisements.
So how does this look? How can we incorporate these issues into the school system? The answer to that is “circles”. Circles are a curriculum that we started doing at my school last year; it was a round table discussion setting where children could learn one of the unwritten staples of education, communication. Students and teachers were put into a circle, where the original focus was building community. We spoke with kids about how fights destroyed the learning process and children were able to express how issues like that and teasing affected a class. Students not only began to have their own voice in a school setting but we were even able to talk about a plethora of issues, like how breakfast effected your day to why is sex more socially accepted for men. Although the adults in the room didn’t always have all the answers, the conversation was going on. If we as educators could push this curriculum into all schools at various age levels, we could use these forums to talk about female and male images. Not only as a way to speak on gender roles but to decode these ads that our children are subjected to.

Fighting the "Male Gaze"

The "Male Gaze" has had hundreds of years to perfect itself so fighting back may take just as much time and effort. As adult women living in today's society we are bombarded with images and messages telling us how we should act, what we should look like and most importantly how we should feel about ourselves if we can't meet these requirements. The messages are embedded in commercials, magazine covers, billboards and even in our own mirrors. When we look at ourselves - most of us don't see who we are - we see all the things we aren't. That's how successful the "Male Gaze" is - now we do the work for them. We don't need a man to tell us that we should wear the "short and low cut red dress" to get attention because we already know.

It's going to be extremely difficult to convince a woman in her 40s, 30s or even 20s that she's a lot more than prize or just something cute to look at. To do so we would have to show her the flaws in everything she's seen and heard up until this point. It is possible to get through but we would have a much better chance if we started at the beginning - with young girls. If from an early age little girls were being told that who they really are and what they have to offer to the world lies on the inside they would be better prepared to fight off the effects of the "Male Gaze".

The Girl Scout ad pictured above does just that. It shows you the image of a young girl and surprise, surprise - the ad doesn't focus at all on her appearance. In fact all we can see is her head peeking over a sign that says "I am your future president". When you see that sign your first reaction is to think "she's smart" and not "she's pretty". The message here is about who this girl is and who she will become. That's the kind of image that young girls should be bombarded with everyday. Instead of...

In this image little girls are being told that they have to compete with each other instead of work together. To make matter worst the tools they need to win this competition are beauty, makeup, hair and big smile. When you look at this image and it's message and compare it to the Girl Scout ad and the message it was trying to convey all you can say is "wow". Both images are current but they come from two completely different worlds.

It is safe to assume that the "Little Miss Perfect Pageant" and the "Male Gaze" aren't going anywhere. But we can support organizations like the Girl Scouts or companies like Nike because they push a strong and positive message to young girls and women alike. We as consumers can make a difference by being more conscious of where we put our money because "Little Miss Perfect" wouldn't be on the air if no one was watching. Instead mothers who have suffered from the effect of the "Male Gaze" try to win through their daughters. They start teaching them early how to dress, smile and pose to get that attention. Fortunately, there are also mothers who encourage their daughters to use their brains and dream big - hopefully one day they will out number the pageant moms.

The Ideal Woman

The advertising industry is one that clearly misrepresents the image of women worldwide.There are many different stereotypes of women in advertising.Throughout history is has been proved that women were mainly portrayed on TV as housewives, or occupation that are submissive to men.Shows like Desperate housevives and many other prime time dramas do just that.

I remember seeing an ad where a half naked woman sitting on a sink straddled a half naked male, and I thought to myself this must be an ad for a condom company or something sexually related..Boy was I wrong, this was an ad for Candies perfume.I am still trying to understand the whole concept of two naked people and a sink and the fact that this ad was for a perfume..

Advertising has many effects on society, both negative and positive combined...The negative effects of advertising on women fall into a huge range of problems. The most common would be dieting and eating disorders and the obsession with the ideal image.

While conducting my research I couldn't help but notice that most of the well known brands like Gucci, Dior, and Dolce and Gabbana all portray women offensively in their ads.

We can try to end the negative effects of Advertising on women by placing ads that have positive effects, one that gets the message to women that they should accept themselves the way they are..

Beauty is in the Eye of the Beholder

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We've heard this statement many times, like when our mothers are trying to instill values or when we dare to exclaim, "How is so and so dating so and so? So and so is hideous" then someone blurts out, self-righteously, "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." Isn't this a true statement, though? How many times have we met someone and helplessly measured them on the old beauty scale, and after getting to know them, they go from a 2 to a 10? Or, what about when your friend looks at someone and says "Yuck, look at that hair?" And you say, "Really? I kind of like it." You feel differently about the physical quality. No matter how hard we try not to invest in those low-brow, superficial thoughts, they still pop-up and try to sneak their way in. So often, though, someone you get to know gets better looking and better looking or more hideous with every realization of who they are on the inside.

So, realistically speaking, beauty is relative. How do we remember this when we are bombarded by a media system that tells us beauty is instant? It's on the surface and exists or not? A woman is immediately judged for her face and body and a man must appear muscular or rich. Who they are inside is irrelevant. Like Jean Kilbourne states in her essay, Beauty and the Beast of Advertising, "We are each exposed to over 1500 ads a day, constituting perhaps the most powerful educational force in society." "[Ads]sell values, images and concepts of success and worth, love and sexuality, popularity and normalcy."

Okay, back to solutions. How do we train our eye to see past the image, the ad, the implication and the influence? Especially when it feels so good to think we can somehow just be perfect? Easy, buy that perfume. Buy that lipstick or that vodka and everything will be good. There's the route of public policy and taxation on advertising proposed by Douglas Kellner in, Reading Images Critically. Kellner states, "Considering effects of advertising also raises the issue of whether or not advertising should be subject to taxation; currently it is written off by corporations as a business expense..." Basically, Kellner is saying these corporations spend most of their money on advertising and then get it back at the expense of the taxpayer and the consumer. Kellner also suggests congress could tax advertising that sells socially undesirable products, like cigarettes and alcohol, that are pushed onto consumers as happy-people products (we've already seen action on cigarette taxation in some states). So, we do have the option to protest and appeal to our government to hit false advertisers where it hurts - in the wallet.

We can also support the big guys who, hearing the call of the wide-awake, are taking action. Like the following adds from UA, Verizon, and others, who promote women of strength and intelligence and speak directly to the issue of gender equality:

The photos above are examples of ad campaigns that send positive messages about women. The Claiborne ad shows a young, confident woman who is looking straight at us, without shame, and all of her clothes are on. Queens Latifah is a beautiful example of a confident African-American woman that doesn't need to seem lost or appear oversexed to get attention. And the Fisher ad exemplifies beauty at any age, instead of promoting a youth obsessed culture in which age is a curse.
I also love these ads from Reebok, Mudd, and Pheonix. They demonstrate that women are relevant and powerful because of what they are capable of doing, building, winning. Their body shape is not the selling point in these ads. They're not using the stereotype of women being small or lost or confused, either. When we write these companies, telling them we're using these goods and services based on their positive ad campaigns, we influence their next campaign.

Lastly, for those of us who are creative and creators, we can take responsibility and put forth images and ideas that are positive for both men and women.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Quit the repetition! Think of something better.

There is always this ideal image that women try to live up to due to constant exposure of advertisements. People of all ages are being exposed to these feminine images everyday of their life. Seeing these types of advertisements have become the norm of society and thus, created a sense of acceptance for these ads among the public. Advertisers use sexual images and words to sell to the public. And the public accepts it.

Sexuality became such a big part of advertising that nearly all the ads we see today involves sexual content. Women’s bodies are regularly used as an object to sell an object. Many ads use women’s body to project the importance of the product while ignoring the presence of the female. When a man and woman is put in an ad together, the woman is always displayed as helpless, where she allows the man to do whatever he wants with her. Why does sexuality have to be used in an advertisement in order to get consumers attention? Better yet, why does the society allow these ideas to be spread? The public is exposed of advertisements involving sexuality so often that they have come to accept it. They see these images so frequently that they allow it.

Through advertising, the face becomes a mask and the body becomes an object (55, Cortese). Women are constantly exposed to ads that depict the ideal women. It makes the consumers believe that if they buy this product, they will look like the model; slender, beautiful, and flawless. They have an urgency to want to become them without realizing that these images are made to be flawless. These images are all technologically enhanced so that no one on this Earth can look like the models do in the ads. Without realizing, the female consumers will continue to chase after an impossible image of the ideal woman.

The advertisement above is selling a fragrance named “Womanity”. The name itself is already unique. It combines the words, woman and humanity together, linking the concept of women being a part of humanity. Women are people, not objects. Compared to other ads in the present day, there are positive and negative aspects of it. Although it does show women’s faces as a mask and bodies as objects, it successfully shows the power of women. There are four different images that show confidence and beauty. The four different images each portray a special sense of individuality of women (which is hard to find in the present day). Two of their faces are covered by an object but one can really feel their confidence even when their faces are not fully shown.

One way to improve advertising is by lessening these ideal female images. However, it is nearly impossible since all advertisers seem to use this idea to sell products. They would never break their own rice bowl, as us Chinese would say. A more effective way to sell a product is being unique. Being unique can be difficult especially with numerous competitors but it can really attract consumer’s attention in the long run. Advertisers should project more reality in their ads rather than promote what cannot be reality. They have to learn to put women under a positive light rather than constantly using their bodies to sell products. Not only do advertisers need a new approach, the public need to be more aware of what advertisements should be accepted rather than taking it as is. Ideal images are socially constructed and when people accept these images, advertisers only do what is beneficial to them which is to use these constructed images to sell the products.

Image Credit:

Its Ok To Age And Be a Brunette

The above is a Dove commercial ad that was released a few years ago. I remember when the ad first came out I actually stopped what I was doing to watch it. I was intrigued by this revolutionary idea that women can actually be themselves. That women somehow found the strength to still be able to live a life that has been riddled with stretch-marks, crooked teeth, spider-veins, freckles and every little battle scar that has been dealt to them during the skirmish of life. Of course, this was not news to me or any other woman who still considered themselves a functional contributor to the human race and a beautiful one at that. Yet, the fact that Dove was willing to tap into this un-used market was by all accounts a yummy and scandalously innovative act; an act that was appreciated by many a woman. The ads have since been under some scrutiny as there are those who argue that they are retouched. While the latter may very well be true, the bigger point is being missed; compared to other ads involving women this is by far one of the mot positive, nationally commercial ads that portray women in a positive light.

Dove’s motto is “imagine a world where beauty is a source of confidence, not anxiety”. This motto should be beaten into girls time and time again and it starts in the schools. I truly believe that starting as early as Elementary School and through out a school career, there should be classes geared towards girls strictly addressing self confidence and self worth (and it should be called self recognition 101).The classes, coupled with more commercials like Dove, will make it clear to girls that flaws are what make an individual unique. It will allow them to know that this world is truly male dominated and once that is understood, girls can then see the true deceitfulness of what is being fed to them through all media facets.

Must there be a columbine like incident before people start to notice that young girls have some serious issues to contend with? The advertising agencies should be held accountable and I'm not talking about a lackluster approach to this crisis. I’m talking about an all out war with these companies; take it right back to the days of the women’s suffrage movements. The media itself can be used as a tool to advocate for the right to a healthy self image. Like ads nowadays addressing bullying that play on nickelodeon and “kiddie” channels, ads should be made addressing self image issues and played on those same channels targeting girls and lately, even boys. This new world that young girls are growing up in is a downright scary one. The challenge though, would be undoing years of self hatred. Yet, women are a resilient folk and like the baby steps that were being made in the earlier part of the century, mammoth changes regarding women's body images will be undertaken.

Strength and Confidence can lead to new Gaze

In my line of work as a trainer on a daily basis the thought of a strong woman is often tagged as being a "lesbian." I feel as though this translates a lot to women being plagued as objects and that all they have to offer is them as a sexual figure. The thought of actually having a stand and voicing opinion automatically garners the tag as a feminist, as opposed to the male figure, who when he voices an opinion it is more of standard and expected to be in charge.

As mention in many of our readings so far the difference in the "active man" and the "passive woman," is simple because that is what has been expected of women for so long. Bell Hook's makes a strong point for black females and the oppositional gaze, but it goes further then that. Its pathetic to be at a bar, watching a sporting event, and as soon as a female broadcaster comes on the comments that are shared instaniously. The second this occurs men are automatically discussing the females lips, curves, or her sexual prowess instead of actually listening to her broadcast and insight she has to offer. The male chouvinist side of it assumes she got the job solely on her look and not of her knowledge of sports. First hand, I know my sister knows more about sports then half of my guy friends, and it just so happens that she is beautiful but that is just an added bonus.

Can this automatic male gaze in a bar or anywhere ever change? It is possible. The question that then arises is who is brave enough or what network is ready to make a stand for women in the media. What makes it OK for a overweight male with three chins who can hardly fit into his suite broadcast a game, but not a female whose not a size 0 with a perfect figure but knows more about the topic then all three other broadcasters put together? I think what women need is one network, market, magazine or paper who is brave enough to be the first and help push forth the "oppositional gaze" and help show that women are more then just objects but are intellectuals and have way more to offer the public and the media then how good they look in short shorts and a tank top.

Empower Women

Mainstream images of women are those that depict women as objects. The advertisements featuring women make women feel bad about themselves and lower their self-esteem.

An alternative to these mainstream images of objectification could be showing images of women being empowered. A campaign that focuses on women in power and/or authority might be a solution. Rather than show images of women as passive objects of the male gaze, women should be depicted as active, independent and strong.

Women rule the world could be such an ad campaign. It would appeal to young girls who are insecure and unsure of themselves. It would focus on Education for women and promote the idea of going to college.

Additional advertising strategies when it comes to selling and marketing products might include getting a focus group of women to examine these ads before they are broadcast. This would ensure that the ads are depicting women in a favorable light.

When Sick, it's Okay to Look Sick...Really.

We are all used to seeing the same images used by advertisers. Images that maintain a common trend of portraying women as housewives or sex objects - and it is evident that sex sells. Since this approach has worked for decades, why fix what's not broken, right? Wrong as it ultimately contributes to ill-formed perceptions of what a woman is or should be and, in turn, negatively affects society at its core. From a very young age, we are inundated with images that showcase the unrealistic image of a woman. This construct of a woman is typically blond with perfect skin complexion, long-legged, and exaggeratedly fit body, to mention a few components. This sends the wrong message to young girls. As Jean Kilbourne writes, “a woman is conditioned to view her face as a mask and her body as an object, as things separate from and more important than her real self, constantly in need of alteration, improvement, and disguise” (Kilbourne 122). A recent advertising campaign critiques and pokes fun at mainstream advertising and its use of the ideal female figure.

A Halls print ad campaign for cough medicine is a good indicator of what a successful advertisement can be without conforming to the use of an idealized woman. It simply contradicts the idealized image of a woman by showcasing average looking, everyday women. A typical advertisement would, for instance, place a highly-stylized and sexy housewife with a strategically placed handkerchief in her gently-manicured hands to illustrate the point of how taking a certain brand’s medicine could make you feel when sick. That’s hardly the reality and we all know it. No one looks good when sick, unless they cover it with tons of make-up and put on designer clothes – right? Furthermore, the image of a woman portrayed in this ad is one of an assertive nature with a confident personality. By not showcasing the woman in the ad in a skin-tight dress or a beach bikini, it allows the “reality” of a woman to be showcased to the mass public. This against the grain, sort of speak, approach is a brilliant one. It does not add the extra pressure to look good on the outside when feeling bad or sick on the inside. It depicts the simple point that it is okay to look the way you look, not some idealized image composed of thousands of dollars.

In a perfect world, the advertising industry would learn a lesson from this Halls advertising campaign and adapt a system of sending out more positive images to reflect on its audience accordingly. However, this approach does not necessarily guarantee profit. Therefore, it is up to the mass public to take initiative and critique and reject these barbaric techniques. This can be done through emphasizing the importance of education. The targeted, naïve youth needs to be aware of the potential dangers that advertising images can lead to. Education leads to critical analysis which opens the door for positive alternatives, just like the Halls print advertising campaign.

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I'm the One

The task of modifying modern day media is exhausting and requires seeking alternative methods of selling products while obtaining the same results that current advertising (involving objectified women) brings in. Unfortunately, the journey has ONLY begun and the process is lengthy and expensive. In the above ad, we have the media sensation, Gisele Bundchen, who is well known for exposing her best 'attributes' on the covers of men's magazines, Victoria Secret catalogs, and high fashion designer commercials. Of course, she also contributes to the continuous objectification and demoralization of women in the media- by providing men with saucy, beautiful and sexy images of herself and playing into the stereotypical role of women in ads- passive, sexual, and pleasing.

In the ad, she is not only an object of pleasure for the white male, but, she is also an unattainable object for the black male. The body language suggests that-although she is powerful- she is still an object of desire and she is adored by the black male model. She is also clothed and the male models are naked. This ad questions the social enigmas of racism and sexism. How would we interpret this ad if the men were white and the woman a black female? These are the kind of ads that influence young women and the interpretation is vague- leaving the viewer with several suggestions.

The goal of advertising is to play on the insecurities and vulnerability of the consumer. Advertising offers the consumer, a solution to the overbearing problem- which in this case and many- the need for women to stay young, beautiful and sexy. This is where the 'beauty myth' is born (Naomi Wolf, pg. 62). Media transcends with society. Meaning advertising utilizes social changes to create new trends and exhibit their product as a necessary asset in improving the transition to the 'new' society. So, media caters to whatever audience or group they deem powerful at the moment. For example, during WWII, when women entered the workforce, advertising could not target these women as housewives; instead they found a different way to capitalize on the 'new working women'. Instead of targeting women with household ads, they decided to promote aesthetic enhancers (beauty products) so that women maintained their 'Feminine Quotient' (Naomi Wolf, pg. 63), while participating in male activities. This is just one example of how advertising is manipulated to persuade the masses. The reason we heavily rely on media is because we are accustomed to follow and accept things that we see in the public. So if we accept what media puts out, advertising executives will continue to please the consumer by generating the same type of ads and messages; since their obviously effective in selling the product.

How can we change media to reflect women in a more positive way? We need to stray away from the ‘gaze’ and as John Berger suggests “transform the women to a man” (Ways of Seeing, pg. 64).

We need to educate the younger consumers and teach them to question and object images they find insulting. This begins with parents educating their children and schools offering resources for children to learn about media and provide their views on what media means to them. As a young woman, I need to become more involved in protesting ads that are degrading, either by creating a portal for women to discuss these issues or by entering the advertising field and becoming a creator of alternative media.

Another alternative option would be ‘counteradvertising’, which can include humor and catch the attention of mainstream media creators. The above ad is not your usually “beauty” ad because the woman is older and not your usual sex object or housewife. In usual beauty ads, women are young, age is a discriminating factor, and race is displayed differently in ads for cosmetics, fragrances and hair products. However, in this ad, Dove does present this normal woman as someone who is beautiful and is desirable enough to bear all clothing and showcase herself. I don’t believe the underlying intention is to objectify the woman, instead it’s to understand her beauty and embrace it. With counteradvertisements, we can protest ads, one by one, that harm women and create stereotypes in society.