Posts Tagged With: advertising

The “Sex Sells” Myth

“I will lose my mind if I hear the “sex sells” fallacy one more time. Sex does not sell. If sex sold, we would see penises where we see boobs. Naked men would be on everything that naked women are on.” – Source

But that’s not the case, is it?

If sex really sold, we would see the same amount of objectification of men and women in every aspect of our lives but that’s not really the case. I’m not denying that the portrayal of men in media isn’t problematic because it certainly is. Body dissatisfaction, depression and eating disorders are on the rise for men, as much as it is for women.  But if you take a close look at how men are being portrayed, they’re mostly in positions that exude power, authority and confidence. In the case of women however, we’re either turned into objects themselves, along with whatever object the ad is selling or we’re depicted in vulnerable, submissive positions. Female objectification and male objectification are very different things, solely because men, in the larger scheme of things, are not so systemically and narrowly reduced to their physical/sexual attributes.

A women’s studies class at the University of Saskatchewan decided to flip the switch and produced a video of images that reverse and play against traditional advertising tropes. But here’s the thing – when you attempt to replace female bodies with male bodies you don’t really objectify men in the same way. This is because our culture’s gaze is so inherently male and so the male body isn’t able to be manipulated, sexualized and victimized in the same way female bodies are. Indeed, the tropes of female body-as-prop are so well-worn, such a part of our cultural landscape, that simply changing up the bodies in the images isn’t enough to actually threaten the male form. In fact,  they’re funny. Because that’s how we culturally interpret a man in a “woman’s role.” It’s comedy.

In reality, the male gaze isn’t purely “male” – it’s something that women have interpolated and now own, too. We are just as critical and questioning of female bodies – if not more! – than men are. And upsetting the female-as-object paradigm in media images is only part of the answer. It’s equally critical that we show female bodies in stronger, more powerful archetypes, too.

And to end this post with a little chuckle, I give you this:


“I have a daughter who’s 10 and we walked past a billboard the other day advertising a TV programme. There was a row of men in suits and a woman in a thong. My daughter said, “Why is it like that? It’s to sell it, isn’t it?” She knows that already. I said, “Yes, it’s a shame a young woman would want to be portrayed in that way,” and she said, “But it’s her choice, isn’t it? Nobody made her do that.” So how do you explain the Gramscian concept of hegemony to a 10 year old? If the culture is so all pervasive that you can’t think outside of it, how are you making genuine choices?”

– Monica Ali

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Fail.. On So Many Levels

Oh advertisements. You conflicted thing you.

I don’t get ad’s for beauty products. You don’t really see the products on the model. You’re  instead given a highly photoshopped image of a woman with the proposed product supposedly on her.  Are we seriously supposed to look at an ad and say, “Wow, that foundation looks great, I want to try it,” when the model has not only been subjected to hours of professional hair and makeup but has also been Photoshopped to the point of no recognizable human features?

The use of Photoshop is an annoying (and undeniably rampant) practice for sure, but at this point I’m just like, “duh, nobody looks like that.” This kind of advertising is just plain boring now. Just open any fashion magazine to any page shilling a cosmetic brand or product. Does she look like a woman wearing makeup or does she look like a woman who is wearing makeup and also eight hours worth of post-production photo enhancement? What is the purpose of a photographic ad if it has virtually nothing to do with the product being advertised?

Take a look at this one:

I’m capitalizing this following sentence for emphasis – she has on FALSE EYELASHES to advertise MASCARA. It is an unacheivable look. Taken at face value, it’s a beautiful image that I don’t mind looking at, but really, don’t you think it’s an insult to our collective intelligence that brands actually pull this kind of bullshit?

Ever more disturbing: we fall for it.

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Apparently It Is

Sexism in advertising is dead? Think again!

This is another case of: 

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Who Knew? Ashton is Dumber Than He Looks

Want to sell potato chips? Use a brown faced Ashton Kutcher to talk about his dating virtues in a sing-song accent. Why? Because Asians are the new clownable minority – yay!


Note: the ad was removed from Popchips Facebook page and Youtube channel after a racism outcry but unofficial versions of it can still be found.

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These Sneakers Miiiiight Not Be Appropriate For Little Girls

We’ve all seen Kim Kardashian’s softcore porn for Skechers’ Shape Ups, the sneakers which claim to tone your ass (despite the health and fitness community calling BS on that one). Whatever, that’s what Kim Kardashian does in every commercial. But Skechers is also selling Shape Ups butt-toning sneakers for your little girl! Yay!

In this cartoon commercial, a rock band of funky girls sings about how Shape Ups have “everything a girl wants / she’s got the height / got the bounce / yeah, she’s looking good / and having fun.” And then the lead singer walks away trailed by three panting boys (who, for some reason, are dressed like hot dogs and cupcakes)! Lovely message to send to elementary schoolers, Skechers: look good and boys will like you. Also, Skechers expressly touts the sneakers’ alleged butt-toning properties in the Kim Kardashian commercial for adults, but the tag line suddenly becomes “get fit” in the cartoon commercial for kids. Fishy!

I’d bet my last dollar that Skechers’ corporate spokesperson would insist they only mean “she’s looking good” because she’s got pink, glittery sneakers any little girl would love. The rest of us realize it’s f**ked up and gross to be selling butt-toning sneakers at 1st graders. Feel icky inside yet?

Sigh. You should value your own worth (and others should as well) by your accomplishments and your dedication to your passions, not by how you look in a bathing suit.

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