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Every day we are exposed to advertising, we drive down the highway and see billboards, we scroll down our news feed on Facebook and see side ads, and our favorite shows cut to commercials on television. According to Jean Kilbourne, advertising is an over 100 billion dollar a year industry and we are exposed to over 2000 ads a day. Advertisements don’t just sell us products, they sell images, values, and concepts of success, worth, love, sexuality, and normality. By doing so, they tell us what we should be. They set unrealistic standards, especially for women. The women in advertisements are more often than not young white women portrayed as beautiful housewives and sex objects, or in other words, these women are objectified. Advertisements should be critically analyzed because they are one of the main sources of influence for young people and what they teach may not be what is best for society. Advertisements often sexualize the product they are trying to sell.

Axe commercials are one of the first advertisements that come to mind. One commercial for Axe hair products from 2012 portrays a story of love between a disembodied head of hair (the male) and a dismembered pair of large breasts (the female), that closes with them transforming into the attractive people they represented under the line: “Hair: it’s what women notice first” (Bahadur). This commercial is a prime example of how women are objectified in advertisements as it suggests that the first thing men notice are breasts and gives the impression that all women are just a pair of breasts for men to ogle. This also teaches young women that if they want men to want them, they need to have large breasts and be overall attractive. Another sexualized advertisement was posted by Belvedere vodka on Facebook and Twitter, then removed almost immediately.

The ad pictures a man seemingly taking advantage of a woman and says “Unlike some people… Belvedere always goes down smoothly” (Bahadur). Belvedere apologized on Twitter because the ad was interpreted by some as joking about rape and abuse of women. Objectification also presents itself in the form of control and superiority, so even if it isn’t interpreted as being about rape, the image still shows a woman being objectified. The man in the image is clearly in control of the female, suggesting he is superior to her.

An artificial world is created by advertisements in which men are the most important and it is rare to see a woman portrayed as poor, unattractive, overweight, struggling, or disabled. This is not the same as reality, so women grow up in a world “where many women start to feel old and unattractive even in their 20’s… [and] where even the youngest and most beautiful women often worry constantly, and cannot match in real life their photographed, objectified image” (Frank). Women then buy beauty products (which are also advertised by these ’perfect’ women) in an attempt to make themselves reach the goal of looking just like the women on TV or in magazines (Kilbourne). Many women spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars to alter their faces and bodies into a more appealing shape and size.

There are studies that show a trend that young women start worrying about their weight and appearance at younger and younger ages (Zimmerman and Dahlberg). That’s not very surprising, considering that children too are exposed to massive amounts of advertising. They see the same images and videos we do everyday, and their brains absorb more than ours. It isn’t just advertisements though. Rothenberg points out that, “Even Minnie Mouse and Daisy Duck and a few other beloved Disney characters were slenderized and sexualized”, and asks if we are “OK with filling our children’s minds with these images”. Frank, and the men of NOMAS, believe that “massive objectification of women may contribute to a “climate” in which violence and exploitation of women are both tolerated and tacitly encouraged”. So then, are we as a society desensitized and oblivious towards objectification? “Contemporary women may be unfazed by the sexual objectification found in today’s advertising” (Zimmerman and Dahlberg). With the advertisements I described earlier, there were mixed reactions. The comments on the post were mostly either about how they weren’t offended and found the advertisements humorous, or they were ambivalent.

There weren’t very many commenters who were completely offended by the advertisements. What I noticed was that those who were offended were all females, and there were more females who were not offended. A study that two students at Canisius College examined for their paper showed that, compared to women a decade ago, women today are more forgiving towards companies that show an offensive portrayal of women. What about those who take what they see in advertisements to heart though? Plenty of women and young girls actually believe that the women of the artificial world that advertisements create are what they should strive to become.

“There is the real tragedy, that many women internalize these stereotypes and learn their “limitations,” thus establishing a self-fulfilling prophecy” (Kilbourne). They start surveilling themselves, and become ashamed of their bodies. “[This] then leads [them] to buy things to make [them]selves feel better about [them]selves and then [they] … become the object” (Rothenberg). They go on diets and when diets don’t work, they stop eating and develop eating disorders. This is not solely the work of advertising, but also the culture we live in.

Not all advertisers portray women in such a way. Dove created their Campaign for Real Beauty ®, Real Beauty Sketches, and Ad Makeover spots to increase awareness of the messages other advertisements send to women in today’s culture (Rothenberg). However, even though these women are more ‘realistic’, they are still pretty women who wear makeup and nice clothes like models and actresses do. It’s a great idea, but it’s not enough. Advertisements need to start portraying women more realistically, as people with thoughts and feelings, not as mere objects for entertainment and enjoyment that can be controlled and taken advantage of. There was once a day when no one would ever have thought to objectify females in advertising, and it may have gotten completely out of control in recent years.

Advertisements have more types of media at their disposal, and they have access to more viewers. Until I enrolled in Sex & Gender and learned about objectification, I never really noticed it. Thinking back I realize how much it permeated the media, and I see now how it still does, maybe to an even greater extent than ever before. Perhaps the images and values distinguished through the objectification of females in advertisements don’t affect everyone, but they do affect many young girls and women. It’s important that people recognize and understand what is going on in these advertisements because many of the effects that stem from it are hazardous to young women and young girls alike.

Drafting of the U.S. Constitution

Drafting of the U.S. Constitution.


Introduction and thesis for a hypothetical history research paper based on my rsearch question dervied from the main topic of the drafting of the U.S. Constitution. Guildlines and rubric uploaded. previous work and template needed for this assignment are also uploaded

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