WE ACTUALLY HAVEN’T
“COME A LONG WAY, BABY”
“You are not good enough.”
That’s the message advertisers have bombarded women with since the early 1900s. Early ads s tigmatized women as being controlled by their husbands and interested only in creating the perfect household. If a woman didn’t have the perfect home and happy husband, she was clearly at fault.The birth of the Women’s Movement in the 1960s brought about a modest change in advertising’s view of women. But, as the focus on domesticity eased in advertising, the objectification of women as sex objects grew. Today’s ads, both print and broadcast, often feature seminude women erotically posed to suggest that a particular product will make them sexier and more appealing to men. Worse, ads are photoshopped and staged so that female models exhibit proportions and features that are completely unnatural.The underlying message (beyond that of the product being advertised), is that if a female isn’t extremely young, waifishly thin, and incredibly beautiful, she is not worthy.
“Ads sell a great deal more than products,” says Dr. Jean Kilbourne, well known author and lecturer on advertising’s portrayal of women. “They sell values, images, and concepts of success and worth, love and sexuality, popularity and normalcy. They tell us who we are and who we should be.”
Unfortunately, few ads actually present reality.
Of course, savvy advertisers are keenly aware of the enormous buying power of women, estimated to reach $18 trillion by 2018. All the more reason to convince women that they can never be quite good enough.