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Author Topic: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society  (Read 11818 times)

ruyi

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A while back in meebo the topic of American Apparel came up, and there was a discussion about the way its ads depicted women and sexuality. For those parties interested I suggest this video:

Killing Us Softly 3: Advertising's Image of Women

I don't agree with all of the points she makes but I thought her coverage of the 1990s (I think?) Calvin Klein ad campaign is pertinent to the debate on American Apparel. As shown at ~22:30, mimicking pornography is nothing new.

It's pretty straightforward and covers a lot of the basics, so I figure it can be used as a starting point for a broader discussion on advertising, consumer culture, sex and the body.
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #1 on: 27 Feb 2009, 03:59 »

Are you envisaging the kind of discussion that should perhaps go in DISCUSS! instead?
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ruyi

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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #2 on: 27 Feb 2009, 04:09 »

Oh shoot! Maybe. I guess ultimately you/other mods should decide whether or not to move this there at your discretion, but at the moment I think it should be here because
-the folks involved in the meebo conversation I had in mind don't usually check DISCUSS!
-though I didn't make this clear in the original post I would rather people talked about their personal experiences instead of hashing out theory cos that gets kinda dry

To start: the video really resonates with me when she talks about how frequently she'll hear people say "But advertising doesn't effect me!" I feel like this is definitely what I want to believe most of the time, but the reality is I have moments where I definitely hate my body  :-( I try to channel it into becoming more health conscious but honestly a lot of it is tied up in how attractive I wish I were.

This is also probably the reason why I find watching TV very exhausting at times. There are just so many advertisements and I feel like my mind has to work extra hard to dissemble the images / undo the work performed by the images.
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #3 on: 27 Feb 2009, 04:15 »

Okay, we'll let this thread kick into gear and see which way it rumbles. That's how we did it back in the day, on the street.

In, um, Yarralumla.
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #4 on: 27 Feb 2009, 04:46 »

I think my favorite (worst) ad I've seen was a Wal-Mart commercial about the "real heroes of football."  Women came pouring, in slow motion, out of kitchens bearing bowls of chips and dip, and were greeted with high fives from the men watching the BIG GAME!  I guess they were saying women who make chip dip are the quarterbacks of the party planning world?  Either way, my response was "WHAT."  I've tried to find it on Youtube, but searches turn up nothing.  Anyone else remember this?
« Last Edit: 27 Feb 2009, 04:47 by Darkbluerabbit »
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #5 on: 27 Feb 2009, 04:49 »

I just don't understand why they don't advertise men wearing dresses.. I think it's extremely sexist.
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #6 on: 27 Feb 2009, 05:18 »

I don't understand why you say things.
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #7 on: 27 Feb 2009, 05:22 »

I think my favorite (worst) ad I've seen was a Wal-Mart commercial about the "real heroes of football."  Women came pouring, in slow motion, out of kitchens bearing bowls of chips and dip, and were greeted with high fives from the men watching the BIG GAME!  I guess they were saying women who make chip dip are the quarterbacks of the party planning world?  Either way, my response was "WHAT."  I've tried to find it on Youtube, but searches turn up nothing.  Anyone else remember this?

I remember those ads, and I also remember thinking it was odd that there was not a significant protest about them, like there was for the burger king manly sexist burger ads.  I also thought maybe it was just me, as I am a man/husband, I despise most sports, and I do most of the cooking.  Also one of my favorite foods is the apparently sissiest of all foods: quiche.  I guess I just really don't like the archaic gender rolls that our society stupidly seems to still hold dear.  Another add in this category was the JC Penny Doghouse/Jewelry add.  That one basically said that wives are horrible bitches just waiting to snap as the slightest provocation, so buy them jewelry and go more into debt.  Can't we just have ads with naked people and anthropomorphic bikini clad zoo animals like they do in Europe?
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #8 on: 27 Feb 2009, 07:57 »

lately i have seen a lot of advertisements for cleaning products that really get to me, and it's not just because it's always the woman doing the cleaning, but because in almost all of the cases she has these awful kids that run around her house getting mud everywhere or fucking shit up and her response is always a big smile and a "oh well! time to clean! i love cleaning!" attitude. what, seriously? you're not going to make them clean the mess themselves or even try to discipline them in any way? what kind of message does that send?

there was another ad i tried to find but couldn't that i had seen on television a few weeks ago where there were big mud prints all over the house and the woman saw them and went "oh, who did this?" and then they showed her husband looking guilty and kind of cowering behind a newspaper... but he didn't actually get up out of his chair to clean it at all. it turned into another "oh well! i'll do it! i love cleaning!" scenario and at that point i think i flew into a cussing rage for a while. it's 2009 and we still have ads teaching women to take care of and clean up after everyone and never complain and love it. wicked.
« Last Edit: 27 Feb 2009, 07:59 by tania »
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #9 on: 27 Feb 2009, 08:06 »

Tania, why are you posting on the internet? shouldn't you be cleaning or something?
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #10 on: 27 Feb 2009, 08:08 »

Basically exactly what Tania just said, but adding to it that in all of those commercials the men are just another one of the lovable but messy kids, who have no responsibility and can NEVER clean. Seriously, those commercials are only directed at women, and they never have the father go "Oh well! I love cleaning!", no, its almost more insulting, they have him being some giant retarded man-baby who couldn't wipe himself without the wife, but yet is still the bread winner for the family. And in the commercials where the man does clean up the mess, its because he's outsmarted by the wiles of the wife. "Okay honeybun, I'll use JUST ONE of the downy ultra-soft and strong double-quilted towels with ultra clean technology, and then you have to clean up the rest!"

This may or may not have to do with the fact that I'm the cleaner in the family anyway (its not enjoyment so much as OH SHIT THERE'S A SPECK OF DUST AND GAH THE CARPET HAS CAT HAIR VACUUUUUUUM!!!!)
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #11 on: 27 Feb 2009, 08:09 »

Seeing how I'm a Design and Communications students at least some of my future work will have to deal with this. Now the ethics of this are, to me at least, not all that complicated since we have very detailed laws in place in Sweden pertaining what you can and can't do with an ad in regards to women. For example you can't objectify a girl by having her pose nude next to a set of tires, if you're trying to sell the tires.

Now with clothes it gets a bit trickier since you're almost required to have models and the fact of the matter is that having ugly people in your ad, other than as a gimmick, most likely won't sell you more clothes than with pretty people.

I really don't think advertisement alone is to blame for the negative self-image that some people get, girls for the matter of this discussion I suppose. For the most part advertisements only mirrors other aspects of pop culture since the point is to associate your product with something positive to the consumer. Instead of blaming the ads maybe you should ask why there are no hollywood actresses or pop singers that look more "normal"?
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #12 on: 27 Feb 2009, 08:31 »

Basically exactly what Tania just said, but adding to it that in all of those commercials the men are just another one of the lovable but messy kids, who have no responsibility and can NEVER clean. Seriously, those commercials are only directed at women, and they never have the father go "Oh well! I love cleaning!", no, its almost more insulting, they have him being some giant retarded man-baby who couldn't wipe himself without the wife, but yet is still the bread winner for the family. And in the commercials where the man does clean up the mess, its because he's outsmarted by the wiles of the wife. "Okay honeybun, I'll use JUST ONE of the downy ultra-soft and strong double-quilted towels with ultra clean technology, and then you have to clean up the rest!"

This may or may not have to do with the fact that I'm the cleaner in the family anyway (its not enjoyment so much as OH SHIT THERE'S A SPECK OF DUST AND GAH THE CARPET HAS CAT HAIR VACUUUUUUUM!!!!)

I'm going to wait a while before diving into this thread, because I should be working on college stuff, but I noticed this and thought I'd point out that Flash products in the UK and Ireland are advertised by a man doing the cleaning. Of course, it's still stereotypical man-ness (Let's clean up at half time, oh no don't let the wife know it only took us five minutes, now we can watch the footie again blah blah blah) but there are some cleaning ads that are at least less overtly sexist.
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #13 on: 27 Feb 2009, 09:29 »

What happened to Mr Muscle? It used about this skinny guy who had a tough time cleaning now its this woman who's in trouble till Mr Muscle comes and saves her.
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Alex C

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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #14 on: 27 Feb 2009, 09:35 »

Advertising certainly has a huge part to play in perpetuating gender roles, and it's unlikely to change any time soon because the goal is to make as much money as possible; being socially responsible is a tertiary goal at best. Many stereotypes are being supported by ads not because people are motivated by sexism, but because there's products out there that would quickly be rendered obsolete by a dramatic shift in cultural expectations. For example, I'd imagine Gillette would be rather devestated if women were to suddenly stop shaving their legs (a practice that developed alongside the safety razor, might I add). Clearly, they have an interest making women think they're expected to shave their legs and that they will be found unattractive if they don't. Playing to insecurities is simply a part of the capitalist business model.

Still, I do understand why people are weirded out by some of the products and advertisements that bring a laser focus onto sexuality and gender roles even if it's a relatively unrelated product (beer ads with bikini models anyone). For example, I know people like to feel attractive; being pretty comes with a certain amount of built-in social status. But man, what's the deal with halloween costumes? If you're female, it appears that your options are sexy cat, sexy nurse, sexy cop, sexy devil, sexy prisoner, sexy witch and sexy maid. One time I saw a nun costume, but the joke there was that the woman wearing it was pregnant. I think a detect a pattern here.
« Last Edit: 27 Feb 2009, 09:39 by Alex C »
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #15 on: 27 Feb 2009, 09:41 »

Good point but you're wrong about leg shaving  though, it didn't develop with the safety razor it goes back thousands of years, Greek paintings show the ideal woman as hairless.
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #16 on: 27 Feb 2009, 10:16 »

That's largely incidental, however. Most art and fashion didn't really have much in the way of bared legs for a long time. Leg shaving became common largely due to the development of the safety razor alongside the development of shorter hemlines, pushed along by fashion and advertising. More than anything, it's a sexual dimorphism thing; ie, the traits we notice most in the opposite sex are the traits that we don't have. That's part of how breasts became a fetishized in some cultures; men don't have them and so it's easy to sexualize them.
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tania

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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #17 on: 27 Feb 2009, 10:24 »

for me the issue isn't so much the fact that sex sells as it is that sex in advertising almost always goes hand in hand with perpetuating gender roles which depict women as weak and subservient to men, and while i understand why it sells, explanation isn't the same thing as justification and i think it is a really important thing to recognize and discuss. everyone knows that if you flip through almost any magazine you can find billions of advertisements depicting skinny half-naked women, and it can be argued this really messes with people's body image, but what i think is equally (if not more) important is that these aren't usually just women standing around being happy and doing their thing, they are women who are depicted looking away from the camera or lying helplessly on the ground or pouting or wearing so much makeup it kind of looks like they got punched in the face and often it doesn't really look like they are enjoying themselves at all, it looks more like they are kind of vulnerable and terrified and have sort of resigned to the fact that you are looking at their body. it is the sort of thing where the more you look at it and think about it the freakier it really is. it happens with men too, but i remember reading a media analysis a while back about how women are more likely to be shown in advertisements doing certain things like lying down rather than standing, or looking up at rather than level with the camera, or averting their eyes rather than making eye contact. of course, from here it can be argued whether or not this actually affects how people view gender and sexuality. personally i think it has a really big effect, at least on a subconscious level.

gis results for "women advertising" -







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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #18 on: 27 Feb 2009, 10:29 »



Okay, since this isn't really meant to be a debate, I would like to say that I am so sick and tired of people saying that girls that are very thin, or girls that are built like me are 'unnatural' or 'unreal'. I am very much so real and so are several of my friends who are 5'10, 115lbs, healthy, and beautiful.

Growing up with a mother who has always been extremely petite, modeled for most of her young life, and when she was FULL term pregnant, was all of about 110lbs. I have a very different view of body types, extreme thinness is a very natural look for me, when I see women who are quite overweight, THAT looks unnatural to me, I think it's very unfair of the presenter to represent everyone's concept of normal as based off advertising and media rather than the fact that people like this exist and it's very plausible that they are 'real'.

I really agree with her on many points, but about halfway through I was getting frustrated. Yes seeing gender roles being perpetrated in advertising is detrimental to our society. However, the fact that she seems to like to make it seem that a sexuality that is for example, submissive or dominating, or aggressive, is bad. Is pointing out just as many labels. I really wish that it could be okay to not want to be in an 'exclusive loving relationship', and that it's okay to be beautiful in the general sense and it's okay to be beautiful unconventionally, it's just okay to be people. Personally I dislike the aggressive preying on these things, but that's advertising, our desire to be beautiful our desire to be happy. Hell even advertisements for products that are 'body conscious' or 'self esteem pro motive' are preying on the conscientious consumer.

Personally I think that issues with advertising are not so much that they are getting more extreme, while it is, people are not being taught what is real and what isn't. When I was very young, both me and my sister were taught that we would never look like each other, we were probably going to dislike parts of ourselves, and that in general, the ideal of the media, is impossible.

Now, my sister is quite short, VERY curvy, more stocky, and beautiful, she loves herself. Yet I will openly admit to having body issues that consistently stem from the fact that people have told me my entire like that the body type I have is 'impossible' 'unnatural' or 'won't last most than a year'. When I was younger and quite thin, I would look in the mirror and see myself overweight, I would see myself as being huge because people told me my body was impossible.

When someone is telling a teenage girl that she looks like a barbie, and the negative connotations that come from that perspective in intellectual circles is very painful. I find myself less accepted in certain academic circles because I ENJOY looking good, I ENJOY being thin, I ENJOY myself, suddenly this consideration of my physical appearance, my BODY the thing that HOUSES my mind, makes me worthless or vapid. There seems to be two sides, the desire of a body and not a mind, and the thought that the desire of a body makes one stupid. The people that know me best are people that value me for my mind, and the way I present myself.

God I am high on codeine. I am sorry if I am stepping on any toes, but please, women who are trying to promote self body image, yes it's less common but for christ's sake stop using words like unnatural. People are beautiful, people always want a partner beautiful inside and out, I don't think this is a negative desire.

OH god I hope this makes sense.
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Alex C

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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #19 on: 27 Feb 2009, 10:29 »

Yeah, see, I kinda forget about those really ridiculous ads because the only magazines I get are Popular Science, and National Geographic. Now I have to know that shit exists again.


What the hell people?
« Last Edit: 27 Feb 2009, 10:31 by Alex C »
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #20 on: 27 Feb 2009, 10:31 »

I think I've mentioned these before but the ads that have offended me most have been the Australian government's Australia Says No (to violence against women) campaign. The ads in question are here and here.

They were directed to All Australian Men (this is never explicitly stated but it's implied in the actors they choose and how they dress them; I can see the meeting where they built this campaign in my head, all middle of the range media graduates reciting their textbooks), and they framed it in such a way that violence against women was entirely separate to violence in general and was solely the fault of this nebulous All Australian Men entity. To me it implied that every man is guilty of it or will be guilty of it, and therefore that it's a part of the Australian Male identity. That it's expected or even necessary to truely be a part of All Australian Men. But what if you're not a part of All Australian Men, I'm male and australian but I don't fit into this group, but it's the group al All Australian Men. Am I unAustralian? But that's the heaviest offence there is and I don't think I'm a bad person. Am I unMan? (oh hey look, is unMan worse than Man? Well yes, clearly, you can see it in Man being the rule and unMan being the expection) I've got to be in some set, but I'm not a boy and I'm not a woman; I'm also not The Elderly or Our Kids, who are the two genderless groups. There's no group for me but does that mean I'm less than those in the groups, I must be since they're awarded with labels and recognition and there is none for me. Should I strive to become an Australian Male? But I hate part of what goes with that and a lot of the rest just isn't who I am.

So I guess that they just alienated me from the group that I guess I'm technically in, but while I'm a citizen I don't really count myself as an Australian (I think this is down to all the people who are most loudly Australian were all arseholes in highschool, that I have what I see as a healthy distrust of nationalism (thankyou Mr Dickson), that the people who live here are a pretty diverse lot in my experience and I guess that I emigrated here when I was little though I don't really feel that it's affected me that much but I figure it's important enough to mention) and I have similar issues with counting myself as a Man, but they're a whole lot fuzzier to pin down.
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #21 on: 27 Feb 2009, 10:47 »

i don't like when people who are skinny are told they are unnatural or unhealthy either. i know quite a few people who are skinny and have a hard time gaining weight even if they want to. i think the main issue in advertising is that there is only really one body type depicted, which is the the super skinny one. rather than demonizing skinny people and using larger people in advertising instead as a solution, i think a better answer is to just use models of all different sizes and send the message that people look different and they are all still beautiful and that's okay.

another thing i find interesting is that photoshopping and airbrushing are becoming more and more commonly used in advertisements. like, you'll take a photo of someone, and then there is a really intense computer editing process where they then do all kinds of things like make this person's 25 inch waist even tinier than it already is, and enhance their cleavage, and make their legs longer, and so on. lots of people don't know this though! i mean, they know airbrushing happens but they aren't directly told "hey, in this photo, they made her waist 3 inches smaller than it actually is". there is already more than enough evidence available from millions of media studies proving that after looking at advertisements, many women feel bad about themselves and experience a decrease in self-esteem. i wonder how women would be affected by looking at images of other women who have bodies which are not just very skinny and exaggerated but actually 100% impossible to ever attain due to the fact that they are basically computer generated.
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #22 on: 27 Feb 2009, 11:42 »

Man, why are there so many super smart girls that just make my life so much easier because I never have to post anything because they say it all, and better than I could.
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #23 on: 27 Feb 2009, 11:51 »

Yeah, see, I kinda forget about those really ridiculous ads because the only magazines I get are Popular Science, and National Geographic. Now I have to know that shit exists again.


What the hell people?
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #24 on: 27 Feb 2009, 15:35 »

Thanks to all of you for your contributions so far.

McTaggart, I'm on my phone so I'm not going to look at those ads you linked right now, but going off of what you said in your post, I would say another large problem with those ads is that in alienating males, they fail to engage people who need to be allies and part of the solution.
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #25 on: 27 Feb 2009, 20:02 »

Swiffer's new string of ads is pretty appalling. 

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<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKZg_qLiIj8&feature=related>Broom in the hot tub.[/url]

They suggest that women have an actual relationship with their cleaning instruments.  That not only do they love cleaning, they love it so much that they put deep emotional commitment into it.  It is pretty fucked up, but people just seem to think it's funny.
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #26 on: 27 Feb 2009, 20:43 »

another thing i find interesting is that photoshopping and airbrushing are becoming more and more commonly used in advertisements.

i trust you have all seen this?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYhCn0jf46U
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #27 on: 27 Feb 2009, 20:51 »

I think now would be an appropriate time to post this video. I am sure it has been mentioned before on this forum, but Target: Women is a series of videos that explores the way different things are advertised to women. It does so in a very sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek fashion and is generally pretty funny! I think comedy is pretty unique in its capacity to destabilise social/power structures by revealing how ridiculous those structures often are.  How much power can something like advertising have over you if you refuse to take it seriously?
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #28 on: 27 Feb 2009, 21:40 »

I sometimes have a hard time speaking too critically about the photo retouching industry, because it is what my dad does for a living.  Of course, he makes fun of it more than anyone.  It was kind of nice to know, growing up, that the stupid clothes don't even fit models.  They have to photoshop out weird wrinkles, etc.  He paid me to do some masking work when they were really behind schedule (not sure how legal it was, don't really care) so I got to see the raw images, and while the models are pretty, they aren't usually even head turning pretty before some work is done.  Interestingly, the department store ad department he works for employs a lingerie model whose breast size is reduced in images.  They actually minimize her bust to make her look more "normal," which is kind of the opposite of what you'd expect.   

Another odd trend I've noticed in catalogs, is that the women's section is full of very thin women, but the juniors and girls sections have young women and girls of different body types.  My mom said "Maybe they think women my age are beyond hope, but younger women still have a chance for a decent body image," which is an interesting thought.
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #29 on: 28 Feb 2009, 05:00 »

i don't like when people who are skinny are told they are unnatural or unhealthy either. i know quite a few people who are skinny and have a hard time gaining weight even if they want to. i think the main issue in advertising is that there is only really one body type depicted, which is the the super skinny one. rather than demonizing skinny people and using larger people in advertising instead as a solution, i think a better answer is to just use models of all different sizes and send the message that people look different and they are all still beautiful and that's okay.

I don't really see how diversifying would help though, since in ads aimed at women you're always going to alienate someone no matter what body type the model has and in ads aimed at men, well...  :roll:

What advertisers do is simply take your ideal of beauty, unachievable or not, and put their product in there in the hopes that you'll go "Hey, this person is so pretty and hey look she uses lynx deoderant maybe if I smell like her people will think I'm pretty too!" not "Hey this person is so pretty I want to look just like her so I won't eat for two weeks now". It seems you all went into this discussion with the firm belief that advertisers are doing this to hurt you which seems rather narcissistic to me and if ads hurt your self-confidence then you probably didn't have a lot of it to begin with.

Now, the issue of enforcements of negative gender roles on the other hand is something you have to be careful with. On the one hand I come from a home where my dad did all the cleaning so I haven't really seen that these kinds of commercials have any effect, on the other hand I'm well aware that if had the man in the commercial do the cleaning while the woman sat on the couch watching sports and eating crisps it would look ridiculous, like a joke commercial. Which only goes to show that these roles are already well nestled in our brains, like it or not.

PS. I'm kind of hung-over and fuzzy so excuse me if I didn't make sense somewhere.
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #30 on: 28 Feb 2009, 05:22 »

another thing i find interesting is that photoshopping and airbrushing are becoming more and more commonly used in advertisements.

i trust you have all seen this?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iYhCn0jf46U

I don't know if anyone saw the BBC Three documentary series with Dawn Porter. In one of the episodes, Titled 'Dawn Gets Naked', she investigated what we've been talking about here as well as people's ideas about nudity and the female form. She underwent something similar to what happened in that dove advert, and was amazed and disgusted at the results.
The episode ended in her riding around in an open top bus in london either naked, or in her underwear (I forget which) celebrating the female form with one of the un-photoshopped pictures on the side of the bus, encouraging the public to join in, which they did wholeheartedly.

I personally thought this was a wonderful idea, because no matter how much we tell ourselves we're unaffected by advertising and we realise what happens behind the scenes, I still find myself wishing I looked a little like the people on the posters. She just helped bring it into the public eye a little more.

Scenes from the documentary:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fk1xB-YXrX8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4A3ZhKpjOM&feature=related This might be a little nsfw.
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #31 on: 28 Feb 2009, 05:28 »

another thing i find interesting is that photoshopping and airbrushing are becoming more and more commonly used in advertisements. like, you'll take a photo of someone, and then there is a really intense computer editing process where they then do all kinds of things like make this person's 25 inch waist even tinier than it already is, and enhance their cleavage, and make their legs longer, and so on

I really like this thread so far.  However, I am pretty tired right now so I am just gonna take this one thing to comment on for now.  I have seen before/after shots of a couple of ads involving some pretty well known female stars, I think one was actually a model.  Can't remember who exactly, but point is that they were already ridiculously gorgeous, right.  Then they touched them up as you say, removing the slightest of blemishes (that to me actually makes most people look more natural and more attractive) any stray skin folds from holding limbs in the wrong position, then slimming things up and adding to the bust.  It's really goddamned ridiculous.  These women are the ones that are already idolised for being remarkably beautiful, yet they still felt the need to tweak.

Oh!  I remembered that one was um what's her face.  Keira Knightly.  I remember this because they gave her a massive rack. I was thinking "Man, everyone knows she doesn't have a massive rack, who the hell do you think you are fooling?"  Point being that people were already massively attracted to her without the virtual rack upgrade, so why not show her as she is instead of idealised?
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #32 on: 28 Feb 2009, 08:12 »

I would just like to make a comment, that the people who make all the Dove beauty revolution commercials. The Pro-age the 'real women' the 'self esteem fund' All of them. They're all made by the same company that creates the Axe commercials. Kind of proving that their company likely doesn't care, just wants to make a buck off of sensitive girls.
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #33 on: 28 Feb 2009, 11:00 »

while the models are pretty, they aren't usually even head turning pretty before some work is done

this doesn't really have a lot to do with the discussion but i just thought i'd mention - lots of models are actually chosen not on the basis of being ridiculously attractive people (not to say they aren't good looking) but on the basis of having kind of ordinary features which with makeup and hair stylists and clothes you can then make look any way you want. so when you see a model who isn't completely done up and go "oh, she's not really that breathtaking", that's because they aren't really supposed to be, they are supposed to be sort of a blank canvas to be made up instead. very few people have access to thousands of dollars worth of makeup and hair products so that is another reason why people should try not to let pretty models in ads get to them.
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #34 on: 28 Feb 2009, 11:22 »

also est your post reminded me of the time i saw debra messing on the cover of cosmopolitan while waiting in line for groceries with boobs photoshopped in and i had basically the same angry reaction because what the hell, she is beautiful enough already and also has a very small chest and is (as far as i know) totally cool with it and who decided that tacky photoshopped breasts were necessary, it is not even a very good photoshopping and everyone knows it is a LIE.



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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #35 on: 28 Feb 2009, 14:06 »

I remember that someone once told me that I could get a job as a model. For female pants. Basically, I'm tall and really thin, and they usually combine the upper bodies of pretty women with nice shapes with the lower bodies of thin, tall guys. Since we don't have those fat hips and ass. Which is completely natural, btw.

That scared me a good bit. You'll notice that curvy women isn't the norm in adds. Which is sad, because curvy is just as awesome as thin and perky.
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #36 on: 28 Feb 2009, 18:09 »

Jessica Alba's airbrushing.

Added hair, entirely different facial expression, extra clavicle definition, some added "muscle" thing on her shoulder?, perkified boobs, waist whittled (our left, her right), outfit wrinkles smoothed, muscle definition removed from leg, bony-ified knee.

See, this is what people mean when they say "unrealistic body". Jessica Alba is a gorgeous lady in both shots, but the second body truly doesn't exist anywhere in nature.
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #37 on: 28 Feb 2009, 18:35 »

I remember that someone once told me that I could get a job as a model. For female pants. Basically, I'm tall and really thin, and they usually combine the upper bodies of pretty women with nice shapes with the lower bodies of thin, tall guys. Since we don't have those fat hips and ass. Which is completely natural, btw.

That scared me a good bit. You'll notice that curvy women isn't the norm in adds. Which is sad, because curvy is just as awesome as thin and perky.

Agreed there. I prefer curvy myself. I'm so sick of anorexic stick-figure style being the norm these days. I read about how this actress or that singer lost all this weight and is now rail thin and I think "For God's sake, WHY???? You were SO hot when you had the curves on you!"

That's why I try to keep from drawing Cassie and Bethany as real skinny. In fact, I may do a strip on self-image stuff one of these days.
« Last Edit: 28 Feb 2009, 18:38 by TLT Thomas »
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #38 on: 28 Feb 2009, 18:55 »

What about the girls who are naturally skinny? And why should it matter so much why you, a dude I assume, think a lady is hot? The point is that women who are not "sexy" are not worth our time, and every girl who is not "sexy" is a terrible person for not trying hard enough. Some girls are skinny, and some of them are awesome, and some girls are fat, and some of them are awesome too, and some girls are in the middle, and some of those ladies are awesome as well.
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #39 on: 28 Feb 2009, 19:03 »

Jessica Alba's airbrushing.

Added hair, entirely different facial expression, extra clavicle definition, some added "muscle" thing on her shoulder?, perkified boobs, waist whittled (our left, her right), outfit wrinkles smoothed, muscle definition removed from leg, bony-ified knee.

They've used a different base image from the one supplied, but yeah, that is one of the ones I was talking about.  That whole Campari set is like that.  They take some really nice pictures of her, then change shit aroundto make her look totally plastic and fake.  I mean, I can understand modifying the backgrounds to make them look more striking and impressive, but jesus christ, y'know, leave her body the fuck alone because it already looks great.
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #40 on: 28 Feb 2009, 19:29 »

Here's a question for the best of you, though. Has anybody's self-image really suffered that much from airbrushed women or insanely gorgeous people in the media?

I mean, every now and then I think it would be cool if I actually had cleavage, but for the most part I like my body a whole lot. It is pretty. There are a few things I will probably always be a little self-conscious about no matter how things are portrayed in the media and there are a few things I will probably always love no matter what beautiful starlet is toting better ones than me.

It seems like if these ads are rocking people to the core of their self-esteem, it's kind of shaky to start off with. I hope I'm not sounding like a bitch about this, but celebrities and models are usually pretty as part of their job. I don't get paid for it, so it's okay if there are better looking people in magazines than me.

Now the gender role thing can sometimes be a little off putting for men and women, but a lot of other people have pointed out the reasons for this a lot more eloquently than I have, so I won't go much further into the issue for now.
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #41 on: 28 Feb 2009, 19:57 »

What about the girls who are naturally skinny? And why should it matter so much why you, a dude I assume, think a lady is hot? The point is that women who are not "sexy" are not worth our time, and every girl who is not "sexy" is a terrible person for not trying hard enough. Some girls are skinny, and some of them are awesome, and some girls are fat, and some of them are awesome too, and some girls are in the middle, and some of those ladies are awesome as well.

Sexyness or hotness isn't that important to me when it comes to everyday women in society... I don't really use that as a judgment of character in real life. Sometimes I'm NOT big on the idea of a famous young lady trying to give herself a more sexy persona. (As in, "You were a hot, charming and exciting singer/artist/actress just the way you were, but you REALLY didn't have to pose topless in that magazine, it just didn't seem like something you'd want to do.")

And if a woman's always been a thin build, I don't fault her for that. I'm just talking about those celebrities who've always looked attractive with a fuller figure, but seem to have to slim down to stick-figure shape as if they have to prove something to themselves or their superficial admirers.

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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #42 on: 28 Feb 2009, 20:09 »

As I grew up my parents were very adamant in their "your body is just the right size for you" stance, especially towards me. That's probably because my mother had a pretty awful self-image of herself throughout adolescence so she wanted me to not have to go through that. I am actually really, really glad they ingrained that message into my head because there have been many times that I have had to remind myself of that.

I have always been a small girl. I was always the shortest person in my classes, and fairly skinny. I am 5'4" and 50kg (110lbs?) and have been the same weight for years and am definitely not going to get any taller; this is it until my metabolism slows down or I have kids. People who don't know me seem to automatically assume that I am anorexic; when they see that I actually eat like a normal person they assume I am bulimic. The constant barrage of "oh you're so skinny! I wish I could be as small as you. How do you do it?" or the "Wow, you are so skinny, you need to eat more! Oh man, you better put on some weight or you'll look sick" really kind of irritates me because I don't see why people have to comment bluntly on my weight, but will whisper and mutter about fatties. I don't go up to someone who is overweight and say "Oh wow, you are so fat! are you morbidly obese?" nor do I go up to other skinny people and try and 'bond' with them that way.

I haven't had much of a body-image problem, and what I have hasn't been from advertising; it's been more from the accusing looks I get from people just by going about my daily business. I think the most I have been affected from all that is that I have never had a perfectly flat stomach like all the ladies on TV (probably because I am lazy and don't exercise) so that is one of my constant issues which bubbles up on occasion. In fact what I like about myself is that I am skinny, but I don't look boney. My arm and legs have muscles and are curvy and don't look like skin stretched over muscle. I look healthy to me, so I don't understand why people need to tell me to put on more weight. I do wish I had more curves sometimes, though.

The issue I have with airbrushing was brought up by est when talking about the photos of Jessica Alba. She is an attractive lady and looks fine in the first photo; when the photoshopped her up they made her look like she has no hips and big fake boobs. There is another photo on that page which I saw at photoshopdisasters where her head is too small for her body. Why fuck around with the person's photo if they are obviously attractive in the first place?
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #43 on: 28 Feb 2009, 20:19 »

I mean, look at this photo:



Surely this would have looked much better if the woman hadn't been airbrushed so that she ended up with fucked up proportions? I can understand smoothing out wrinkles and fixing up lighting/uneven skin, but is someone supposed to look at that photo and think it is a real person?
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #44 on: 28 Feb 2009, 20:54 »

That dear is an example of a terrible edit job.
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #45 on: 28 Feb 2009, 20:58 »

Andy, it was an extreme example to make a point. I know it is awful, hence why it is on photoshopdisasters. My point still stands.
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #46 on: 01 Mar 2009, 00:21 »

It seems like if these ads are rocking people to the core of their self-esteem, it's kind of shaky to start off with.

That's not the point, though.  The point is that the universal dissemination of these images creates an apparent norm for for people to grow up with, and this manipulates and distorts their view of themselves and of their position in society.  Some people are lucky enough to get an effective counter to this in their upbringing, but many others are not.
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #47 on: 01 Mar 2009, 06:56 »

"For every beautiful woman out there, there's a man that's tired of fucking her."

This idea may be broad and sweeping, but it does have a good idea behind it I think.  Physical attraction is all well and good and may sell some clothes, but there's gotta be more to it.  Personally I think that everyone should be required to see how much photoshopping/editing goes into these pictures.  Education is the only way to put a dent in this crap.
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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #48 on: 01 Mar 2009, 12:07 »

to be fair though, liefeld is a really ridiculously bad artist in general.





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Re: Women imagined in advertising => Gender, sex and society
« Reply #49 on: 01 Mar 2009, 14:08 »

It seems like if these ads are rocking people to the core of their self-esteem, it's kind of shaky to start off with.

That's not the point, though.  The point is that the universal dissemination of these images creates an apparent norm for for people to grow up with, and this manipulates and distorts their view of themselves and of their position in society.  Some people are lucky enough to get an effective counter to this in their upbringing, but many others are not.

It seems to me you're forgetting the fact there are a lot of sources of information out there and every day people growing up gets exposed to all of them, both the good ones and the bad ones. What I'm saying is I'm sure there are a bunch of chubby kids show hosts out there and that kids will get exposed to all kinds of people in their day to day life. You can't say they shouldn't be shown pretty people just because that would hurt their self-esteem, that is just being overly protective. Granted, you do make a good point that the follies of advertising should be taught in schools, I think this is just a case of the educational system being slightly behind the technical revolutions that have been happening the last 20 or so years and it's just a matter of catching up.

That said complaining about ridiculous body images in comic books that are clearly works of fiction is just plain fucking ridiculous. To be honest that goes for this whole discussion really, I'm a tender 20 years of age and I've been aware for at least the last 6 years that commercials are not an accurate depiction of real life, in fact I consider them as much fiction as a comic book or hollywood movie. It seems to me the reason people are upset with them are because their exposed to them "involuntarily" which I can only imagine being true in perhaps 5% (a number pulled out of my ass) of the cases or so.
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