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Running Head: How Advertising Portrays Women
How Advertising Portrays Women
Ami C. MacDowell
Bay Path University
How Advertising Portrays Women
How Advertising Portrays Women
Modern day society revolves round capitalism and a never-ending stream of
advertisements throughout the media such as magazines, television and social
media websites. These advertisements most often depict the product that
companies are trying to sell and many also include people. However, some
advertisements depict women in a derogatory and unrealistic way (Tortajada,
Araüna, & Martínez, 2013). Advertising takes gender ideals that are widely known
and simply over exaggerates them to attract people’s attention. Unfortunately,
advertising also sets a social standard for how girls should look and act, which is
dangerous because it has perpetuated sexist and stereotypical behaviors (Tortajada,
Araüna, & Martínez, 2013). Advertisements have the ability to change the
perspective that individuals have about the events and opinions that affect societies
norms (Güdekli, & Çelik, 2014). Therefore, they can be used as a strong tool to fight
against the equality of the genders.
Magazines and newspapers are perhaps some of the most influential forms of
advertisement because they have been around the longest and have set the norms
for printed advertising. Since advertisement was first created, it has depicted over
sexualized and exposed women. A majority of advertisements that include women
portray them as either a mother figure or a sex object (Güdekli, & Çelik, 2014). The
only times a woman is depicted as being “manly” or “strong” is when she is doing
something that is portrayed as masculine. This type of advertising has set new
societal values for women, such as being thin, curvy, petite, sexy and submissive
(Güdekli, & Çelik, 2014). All of these values are set in place so women look attractive
How Advertising Portrays Women
in order to find future partners. However, actual women will never be able to
achieve beauty found in magazines because actual women cannot be edited.
Magazines edit photos by completely disregarding the human anatomy and
distorting proportion, skin tone, blemishes, body hair, facial structure, and body
structure. Over time, women in advertising have become more proactive and often
times women’s sexuality outshines the actual product within the advertisement.
Even though advertisements have been criticized for showing sexualized images, it
has been proven that it is an effect form of advertisement. That is because sexual
images, when shown repeatedly are placed into our subconscious and effect how we
behave. Even though this reaction is good for companies, it is awful or women. Many
advertisements emphasize that women who want to attract attention, have to focus
on their beauty and sexual attractiveness. An increasing number of teenage girls are
becoming more feminine and provocative because of the influence of advertising.
The use of sexuality in advertisement is leading towards a society of women whose
personalities are completely disregarded and beauty defines their worth (Güdekli, &
Çelik, 2014).
Advertisements on television contain the most sexualized images of women
because they contain both audio and visual components. Televised advertisements
are extremely influential because television stations match up shows and
advertisements by focus group. So that each advertisement has a greater chance of
being seen by those that would take interest in its product. Even the timing of
specific advertisements is carefully calculated so that each advertisement is aimed
directly at its focus group. Commercials advertising household and clothing
How Advertising Portrays Women
products are shown during the weekday, whereas commercials advertising sports,
outdoor, and general men’s products are aired at night after typical office hours.
Television is also the most popular form of advertisement in the world, with 12.5
minutes of advertising commercials in every hour of programs. The repetitive
nature of commercials further drills its messages into the subconscious of the
viewer. This is particularly concerning because long-term exposure to particular
stereotypical portrayals and biased reporting results in distorted perceptions about
particular groups, specifically women (Rubie-Davies, Liu, & Lee, 2013).
Advertising undermines the equality of the sexes and demonstrates that
women are restricted to certain social roles such as being a sex object, or a homemaker. This is a crucial issue because advertisements have been proven to affect
some viewer’s future behaviors and beliefs. Females who feel as though they can
connect to a stereotype found in television have been shown to avoid tasks and
occupations that are negatively associated with the female characters in
advertisements. An increasing number of young girls are mirroring the behaviors of
women they see on televisions and are led to believe that they have limited options
on what they can do. Advertisement on television is very influential because the
roles created by the media become the reality of its viewers (Rubie-Davies, Liu, &
Lee, 2013).
Advertising on social media has recently reached its peak of popularity as an
increasing number of adolescents are dedicating their time to a number of popular
sites. Similar to the marketing strategies of television, social media websites keep
track of what other web sites you visit and then present advertisements related to
How Advertising Portrays Women
those websites in order to get a better hold on focus. However, the advertisements
on social media seem to be having the most affect on adolescents. Social media
provides a significant environment for identity exploration, and advertisements are
swaying the self-image of many young women across the globe due to the sexualized
images they see on the Internet Girls create personal profiles in which they
strategically make decisions concerning what they want to expose about themselves
in order to impress others. By posting exposing images, girls are more likely to
receive positive feedback from their peers whether it is in the manner of likes, up
votes, thumbs up or even comments from others. These users choose particular
photographs because of their desire to look good, and project desired images. Teens
represent themselves in a way that others will like them more or that they become
more desirable to potential partners. The advertisements found on social media
sites have started to reap a large impact on how teens view themselves and portray
themselves to other on the internet which is creating a culture of promiscuity
(Tortajada, Araüna, & Martínez, 2013).
Advertisements have created a culture in which women are valued by their
beauty and their sexuality than their personalities (Tortajada, Araüna, & Martínez,
2013). The way advertisements portray women lead young girls to believe that they
have limited options, and must fill stereotypes of women (Rubie-Davies, Liu, & Lee,
2013). Many of the images in advertisements portray unrealistic versions of women
that have been edited to create unrealistic beauty ideals (Güdekli, & Çelik, 2014).
Advertisement easily reflects over exaggerated stereotypical images, and these
How Advertising Portrays Women
images become embedded into our culture and societal values and norms (Güdekli,
& Çelik, 2014). Therefore adverting reaps a strong impact on the women of today.
How Advertising Portrays Women
Güdekli, İ. A., & Çelik, İ. (2014). Using Woman In Advertisement As A Symbol Of Sex:
Cosmopolitan Magazine Example. Journal Of Yasar University, 35(9), 61296137.
Rubie-Davies, C. M., Liu, S., & Lee, K. K. (2013). Watching Each Other: Portrayals of
Gender and Ethnicity in Television Advertisements. Journal Of Social
Psychology, 153(2), 175-195. doi:10.1080/00224545.2012.717974
Tortajada, I., Araüna, N., & Martínez, I. J. (2013). Advertising Stereotypes and Gender
Representation in Social Networking Sites. Comunicar, 21(41), 177-186.