How Advertising Fails Us

I did a project back in college for my Psychology of Women class that I called, “Hidden Advertising.” I never really intended to take Psychology of Women. Like Existential Psychology, after my first day I really wanted to withdraw but I needed the Psych credits and could not fit any of the other classes in my schedule.

My professor was an ultra- feminist. Most of her lectures were rants. There was not much discussion because if you disagreed with her opinion, she ripped you to shreds in the large, echoing lecture hall.

It was not pleasant.

But it forced us all to think about gender stereotypes, blaming victims, and women’s role in society.

For the project, I pulled out ads from magazines and addressed how each ad was using sex, stereotypes, and low self-esteem to sell their products to the masses. Some of the products may surprise you.

They tell us that we need to use things to feel and look sensual and beautiful as if we cannot be either naturally. They show us we need to be thin and flawless to be beautiful and noticed.

They blindside us with our gullibility and take our money in the process. Our return on investment? Body dysmorphia and eating disorders.

This will make you think like my post, The Scale, if you are not already thinking.

Showering isn't just for cleansing anymore. Thanks to Neutrogena, it's sensual, too.

Showering isn’t just for cleansing anymore. Thanks to Neutrogena, it’s sensual, too.

You can be unforgettable if you wear Revlon products. At least that's what THEY say. I know some pretty unforgettable women who wear no makeup at all.

You can be unforgettable if you wear Revlon products. At least that’s what THEY say. I know some pretty unforgettable women who wear no makeup at all.

Cover Girl redefined beautiful for us. Our beauty has to look natural and our complexion has to be clear. I think society defined it that way long before Cover Girl. So did they really redefine it for us?

Cover Girl redefined beautiful for us. Our beauty has to look natural and our complexion has to be clear. I think society defined it that way long before Cover Girl. So did they really redefine it for us?

Society does not want old, wrinkled women. Thanks to L'Oreal and other companies we freak out at the first sign of wrinkles and look for anything that will take them away. I have wrinkles for a reason. They tell my story.

Society does not want old, wrinkled women. Thanks to L’Oreal and other companies we freak out at the first sign of wrinkles and look for anything that will take them away. I have wrinkles for a reason. They tell my story.

We can never have too much according to Max Factor. Note the use of "2000 Calorie" in the product name. Surely that many calories in a mascara means it is indulgent, too.

We can never have too much according to Max Factor. Note the use of “2000 Calorie” in the product name. Surely that many calories in a mascara means it is indulgent, too.

Maybelline says it's not realistically possible to have good genes. Nope, we're not born with good skin or great eyes. It MUST be the makeup.

Maybelline says it’s not realistically possible to have good genes. Nope, we’re not born with good skin or great eyes. It MUST be the makeup.

We're worth what we pay to put on a facade rather than be real.

We’re worth what we pay to put on a facade rather than be real.

รง

Women cannot have dry or rough skin. That's for men. And every inch of our skin must be soft.

Women cannot have dry or rough skin. That’s for men. And every inch of our skin must be soft.

We can change our shape just by wearing Hanes Silk Reflections. They figured out the secret to magically changing our shapes once we don their product.

We can change our shape just by wearing Hanes Silk Reflections. They figured out the secret to magically changing our shapes once we don their product.

Do jeans really attract the men? If you Request them, I guess they do.

Do jeans really attract the men? If you Request them, I guess they do.

Why don't women have a perfume called Iron? Because women should be soft and sweet. Never mind the fact that I can pump iron, too.

Why don’t women have a perfume called Iron? Because women should be soft and sweet. Never mind the fact that I can pump iron, too.

If I was re-doing this today I simply would have captioned this, *face palm*. Or maybe, *head desk*

If I was re-doing this today I simply would have captioned this, *face palm*. Or maybe, *head desk*

"Shhhh. Don't let anyone know you're hurt." Women aren't supposed to show pain. We're supposed to take it and keep going. Yes, let's reinforce denying feelings and passivity.

“Shhhh. Don’t let anyone know you’re hurt.” Women aren’t supposed to show pain. We’re supposed to take it and keep going. Yes, let’s reinforce denying feelings and passivity.

Again, we cannot take pain. We cannot enjoy anything if we have cramps. I'm pretty sure I can enjoy a lot of chocolate when I have cramps. And a good action flick.

Again, we cannot take pain. We cannot enjoy anything if we have cramps. I’m pretty sure I can enjoy a lot of chocolate when I have cramps. And a good action flick.

Perpetuating the stereotype that men like us more for our bodies and not our minds. We must show cleavage, shoulders, and most of our legs. It's more of a hindrance than an asset.

Perpetuating the stereotype that men like us more for our bodies and not our minds. We must show cleavage, shoulders, and most of our legs. It’s more of a hindrance than an asset.

Women need to be stylish, soft, and slim. If we smoke, our cigarettes should be, too.

Women need to be stylish, soft, and slim. If we smoke, our cigarettes should be, too.

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8 comments

  1. I’m amazed you still have this project, Debi, but glad you do. It’s an eye opener for sure. On some level we know all this, of course, but the messages can be “subtle” in that we, too, are pulled in by the pretty girl, the smiles, etc., so the messages almost become subliminal. If you ask us to analyze such advertising for its messages, we “get” it and can point them out. But we are bombarded by so many on a daily basis and are human so they can continue to work whether we realize it (or want to acknowledge it?). Thanks for the very important reminder, Debi.

    Shirley

  2. Pingback: Chatterbox | Chocolate Wasteland


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