Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Importance of Image

It is inevitable to walk down to your local supermarket without seeing an advertisement.  Ads are embedded into our lives and media.  It is media's way to reach out and tell us what and who we should be.  It is also almost always targeted for women.  They mix our desires with our needs to make us feel like those desires are our needs.  This is why we would hear our mothers or friends say "I need a new dress to match the new shoes I bought."  We do not need a new dress to go with the shoes, the fashion industry tells us we do.  

Nowadays, media has been sexualizing everything; from selling perfume, clothes, household goods, to even food.  

"In these commercials food is constructed as a sexual object of desire, and eating is legitimated as much more than a purely nutritive activity.  Rather, food is suppose to supply sensual delight and succor- not as metaphorically standing for something else, but as an exotic experience itself" (Border, 112). The Burger King ad, shown above, best represents Border's statement.

In Berger's Way of Seeing, he mentions how the objectification of women was present even dating back to the medieval times.  He also mentions the male gaze and how women are always looked at and observed.  This is definitely apparent in many of the ads that include a male and a female.  Below is an example of this.  

As you can see from the ad, it is very sexualized.  From the way the models are dressed to the way they pose, it gives a sexual demeanor.  The female is always observed as if she was an object of desire in the male's gaze.   

Another common trait with these women is that they are all tall and thin.  We almost always see tall and skinny white models in ads.  Media's obsession with youth, beauty, thinness and whiteness make those who do not fit this category feel like an outcast.   Abercrombie and Fitch, a very well known company which has been criticized many times for its sexual and racist ads and clothing, is the best example for this.

The first photo shows two models holding each other and are only wearing jeans.  Once again, it shows the sexualization of ads.  The second photo is a group photo of Abercrombie and Fitch sales associates. Notice how they are all skinny, white, and beautiful?  I actually used to work for Abercrombie and Fitch.  During my time with the company, I have noticed that image is very important to them.  I remember this one time the CEO visited our store.  Every inch of the furniture and placement of the clothes on racks was positioned perfectly.  Each model, what they call their sales associates, was specifically picked and stationed in parts of the store.  We were given out specific clothes to wear and must look absolutely perfect for the one hour he was there.  This company has a huge following and influence on young teens and with Abercrombie's obsession with youth, beauty, and thinness, it makes young teens think that this is what it takes to perfectionism.

"Women feature in culture more often than not because of how they look and the preferred look is young, slender, sexual, and white" (Gunther, 206).

Media can also be very sneaky with the way they tell us what we should look like.  Ads of weight loss programs, buying groceries and even cleaning ads always depict women looking amazing 24/7.  This women is cleaning the bathroom, yet she is very well dressed as if she was going to a dinner party.  

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