Portrayal Of Women In Media And Marketing Advertisements
Women are often misrepresented in the media, especially when it comes to companies seeking appealing advertisements. Clothing company, American Apparel is infamous for their hypersexualized images when it comes to advertising their brand. In one of their advertisements, the company sought to announce the opening of one of their new locations in Amsterdam. However, American Apparel used the image of a woman in a sexualized manner in order to draw attention. The company portrays a young woman of color lying down on a bed with her legs spread wide open while wearing a bodysuit that allows viewers to see her groin area. By the photo quality, viewers are able to notice how the model’s skin does not seem to be digitally touched to emphasize the rawness of the image. She is also making direct eye contact into the camera with her arms spread upward towards her head. Next to her the words “Now Open” are written in bold huge letters, and under that phrase, they include their new retail location using a font that is so complicated to read due to its small size. It is clear that American Apparel is using this young woman’s sex appeal as a way to attract customers.
In American Apparel’s ad, the woman covers almost the entire page, this makes it clear that she is the center of attention, and her image makes the new location seem of lesser importance. Her direct eye contact creates a sense of consent to potential customers and her open legs further emphasizes her sexual invitation to her body. By using sex appeal, it is obvious that ad creators are aware that it will make potential customers look twice at the woman and that will most likely lead them to read its actual purpose. The film Miss Representation, emphasize how the media (such as this advertisement) creates a misleading view of women. The film includes a scene where Lindy Dekoven mentions, “The exploitation of women’s bodies sells products, magazines, etc.,” her statement is then supported by a soda company’s advertisement that depicts a little boy asking a woman with visible cleavage to open a soda bottle, as she opens it, the boy gazes upon her chest. Once the bottle is open, the soda fizzes up and wets her neck and breasts as she seems to enjoy it by her sexual facial expression (Miss Representation). Just like the soda commercial is available for all audiences, so is the American Apparel ad. Viewers of all ages are exposed to such content, including young boys and girls. When children see these advertisements or commercials, they are being taught that this is the way they should behave, and that is for girls to be sexually objectified and boys to feel like they are superior to them. If this is the way the public continues to raise young boys, the cycle of women’s body exploitation will never end. Creators of advertisements manipulate women for the selling of their products, and it seems that the only way to do this is to sexualize their bodies. In American Apparels ad, it is evident that by placing the woman on a bed with legs widely spread will allow viewers to assume that she is easy to access.
When women are constantly set to pose in seductive fashions, society embeds the idea that there is a clear association with women and sex. The amount of men posing seductively for advertising is only a small quantity as compared to women. It is also astonishing how often times feminine bodies are portrayed to advertise products that are not even meant for female use. This relation does not take further into account the many achievements that women can accomplish, such as excelling in academics, their workplace, or even living “non-traditional” lifestyles. In The Rise of ‘Good Reading’ over ‘Good Writing’, the author includes a statement by feminist Betty Friedan, “It is my thesis that the core of the problem for women today is not sexual but a problem of identity—a stunting or evasion of growth that is perpetuated by the feminine mystique …” (Rice, 140). Women are frequently viewed with a set image of being able to cater to men, and for many years they have been through a constant battle to break free of this image. Though creators may benefit from potential sales influenced by their ads, they do not realize the harm they continue to create for women. In the American Apparel ad, the woman seems to pose as natural looking as possible without photoshop or makeup, creators may have done so in order to reflect the authenticity of their brand by once again using women to imply certain messages. When companies like American Apparel release ads where women are seductively staring into the camera, the message the public receives is that women are submissive to men. This inferiority created only limits the opportunity of females and knocks them off the ladder of success. Though modern-day culture has become all about creating change and awareness to negativity, the media continues to reinforce the message that it is a woman’s responsibility to please men, and although it is not always explicitly stated, the message remains concealed.
When the public looks at advertisements such as American Apparel’s the message they receive is almost like looking through a sheer curtain. The advertisement focuses mainly on her body, and this is quite noticeable even when wearing the brand, which in this case is an exposing bodysuit. The public is set to see the model’s promiscuity due to the way she is depicted. Her body is objectified by being compared to a retail store where customers have easy access in and out. The image overall facilitates the public to make assumptions not only about the model, but it alters the way women view themselves. Women objectification in the media has become so prevalent throughout the years, and it has formed a cycle where creators (whether female or male) will continue to do so as long as it benefits their companies. We live in a society where consumerism is extremely significant, and companies can pick and choose between certain models. This creates a problem because we not only have creators depicting women in such fashion but some younger women look at these images and feel influenced to look like what is in front of their eyes. In A Theory of the Sociology of Women, Helen Moore discusses about the economic value placed on body types, “ Using our example of body image, there are economic rewards associated with the valued body type. There are certain prices paid at market values for certain body types of models in advertising. Women may seek and maintain a valued body type; however, only certain ones receive exchange value. Here use value and exchange value are integrated and the powerful are those who determine when exchange value will be allocated.” (Moore, 127). Advertisements like these can pressure women to want to achieve similar looks. In today’s society, social media has become a great way to include many different body types and ethnicities, yet the bigger picture is that companies have only found a new way to manipulate women. Though women may receive the feeling of being noticed from the attention they receive from big companies, those who remain powerful are the ones who seek for particulate women to promote their brand. And yet because women are usually blinded by compensations in exchange for their advertising, they are not able to realize that their image has a certain value that objectifies them.
Women have gone through many struggles for the rights to their own bodies, and it is images like these that hinder their progress. As mentioned before, the message the public receives from the American Apparel ad is a false view of women overall. Such messages silence women and continue to value their counterparts. The rise of female activism in our culture has become largely noticed, but why is it that the media continues to falsely portray women the way they do? Though creators of advertisements may only do what is best for their brand, they do not realize that they contribute to the difficulties in making equal recognition possible. By looking at this advertisement, radical feminists would agree that this is part of what creates women’s oppression. That is because the goal of radical feminists is to dismantle patriarchy but it becomes rather difficult when it is clear that the sole purpose of the model is to display her sexuality. Anyone who takes a look at the American Apparel advertisement can note that it is seemingly clear that the model is not white but it is difficult to pinpoint her exact race. Many women in our society are already dealing with the overlapping struggles of being a woman and being a woman of color. When early feminism began, it consisted of white women activism resulting in exclusivity, however, times have changed and women of different races have become a large number in our society. The third wave of feminism includes intersectional feminists, such advertisements create harm to women, but also those who are of color. The media being portrayed is a reflection of society, that comes to show how powerful it can be since the outcome of reinforcing stereotypes results in the shaping of society. Women of color are already trying with great effort to obtain validity from society and if they want to move forward, it is important to consider all struggles. Now, this advertisement does not only reflect the sex appeal of the woman, but it attaches to her racial appearance, further harming the women who are trying to break the chains of oppression.
American Apparel’s advertisement is an example of how just one image can greatly contribute to the negative view placed upon women. Therefore, if companies continue to sexually objectify women, the progress to equality and value becomes difficult to achieve.
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