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					Sarah Brown
405, W. 5:30-7:20 p.m., Jimmy

Title: The Portrayal of Women in Advertising

Section I, a.
Women have often been used in advertising as sexual objects to attract consumer
attention. People view this imagery both positively and negatively. Those who see the
images as positive may believe these images are empowering for women, putting them in
a position of manipulation or seduction to serve their personal interests. Those against
the imagery may argue that it is degrading to women because it portrays them as weak or
subordinate; it uses body parts to sell products. Additionally they argue that in these
advertisements, there is a narrow concept of beauty. Models are commonly young,
white, thin and airbrushed to perfection giving American girls low self-esteem and
unrealistic standards.

Through research on women in advertising, I would like to find out the thinking behind
some of these controversial ads. What did the advertiser intend to say with the image?
Did they see the ad as degrading or did they have another interpretation of the ad?

My intended audience is women between the ages of 18 to 30. My reasoning is that this
group of women is most commonly used in advertisements. Thus, they would be
interested in an issue that directly relates to them.

Section I, b.
The UNC library catalog
women and advertising
imagery and advertising not men

Lexis-Nexis Academic
women w/s advertising w/p images
sexism w/5 advertising and women

Web search engine: Google
women and advertising
sexism in advertising

Section II.
Two Print Sources:

Hill, Daniel D. Advertising to the American Woman. Columbus: Ohio State University
       Press, 2002.
       Davis, HF5813.U6 H55 2002

Kitch, Carolyn L. The Girl on the Magazine Cover: the origins of visual stereotypes in
       American mass media. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2001.
       Davis, P94.5.W652 U655 2001

One non-paper source:

Kilbourne, Jean. Killing Us Softly III. Dir. by Sut Jhally. 34 min. Media Education
       Foundation, 2000. Videocassette.
       UL Media Resources Center, 65-V7957

Section III.
Six Electronic Indexes and Database sources:

Anderson, Mae. “Creative; Keeping It Real; Apparel ads are slowly starting to show
      women of all shapes and sizes.” Adweek (2003): 19 [online], available from
      Lexis-Nexis. www.lexisnexis.com (September 18, 2003).

Bellafante, Ginia. “Sexy Grows Up, With an Edge.” The New York Times (2003): B8
       [online], available from available from Infotrac Custom Newspapers.
       http://www.galegroup.com/CustomNews/ (September 18, 2003).

“EU Calls for Ban on Sexist Ads; Briefly.” International Herald Tribune (1997): 11
      [online], available from Infotrac Custom Newspapers.
      http://www.galegroup.com/CustomNews/ (September 18, 2003).

“Italian Funeral Home Uses Sex to Sell Coffins.” Euromarketing via
        E-mail V, no. 30 (2002): 1 [online], available from Lexis-Nexis.
        www.lexisnexis.com (September 18, 2003).

Lippert, Barbara. “Creative; Sex and Sensibility.” Adweek (2003): 36 [online], available
       from Lexis-Nexis. www.lexisnexis.com (September 18, 2003).

Menkes, Suzy. “Images That Disturb Yet Seduce.” International Herald Tribune (2003):
      17 [online], available from Infotrac Custom Newspapers.
      http://www.galegroup.com/CustomNews/ (September 18, 2003).

Section IV.
Title of Web page: About-Face
Web address: http://www.about-face.org/
Brief Description: About-Face is a San Francisco-based, non-profit group that promotes
positive self-esteem in girls and women of all ages, sizes, races and backgrounds through
a spirited approach to media education, outreach and activism.
Source of Web site: The Tides Center

Title of Web page: Ms. Magazine
Web address: http://www.msmagazine.com/index.asp
Brief Description: The non-profit feminist magazine often runs articles dealing with
sexism in media, and also features a "No Comment" page, highlighting recent offensive
ads.
Source of Web site: Ms. Magazine

Title of Web page: Media Watch
Web address: http://www.mediawatch.com/
Brief Description: Media Watch challenges abusive stereotypes and other biased images
commonly found in the media. It began in 1984 and distributes educational videos, media
literacy information and newsletters to help create more informed consumers of the mass
media. They challenge racism, sexism and violence, but do not believe in any form of
censorship, especially the silencing of marginalized groups.
Source of Web site: Media Watch

Title of Web page: Children’s Media Project
Web address: http://www.childrensmediaproject.org/index.asp
Brief Description: Children’s Media Project is an arts and education organization
focusing on media and technology. Their mission is to create a teaching/learning
environment where people can learn to interact with the media arts.
Source of Web site: Dutchess County Children’s Health Initiative, The Dyson
Foundation, The Open Society Institute of the Soros Foundation, Markertek, The
Dutchess County Arts Council, The New York State Council on the Arts, The New York
Foundation of the Arts, Freygang Foundation, the McCann Foundation, Zickler Family
Foundation, The Experimental Television Center, Listen Up!, The Community
Foundation, and The Global Goals Institute.

Title of Web page: Adbusters
Web address: http://www.adbusters.org/home/
Brief Description: Adbusters is a network of people who want to, “advance the new
social activist movement of the information age.” Their goal is to, “topple existing power
structures and forge a major shift in the way we will live in the 21st century.” To this
end, Adbusters Media Foundation publishes Adbusters magazine, operates this website
and offers its creative services through PowerShift, their advocacy advertising agency.
Source of Web site: Adbusters Media Foundation


Section V.

The Impact of the Net on the Portrayal of Women in Advertising

       Americans are bombarded with images from advertisements. The average person

sees between 400 and 600 ads per day, and one of every 11 commercials has a direct

message about beauty mainly targeted toward a female audience.1 Because so many

people get online today, many of these ads are viewed on the Internet. Images of women
seen in all forms of advertisements are commonly tall, thin and white. But, even the

“perfect” women in ads are airbrushed or altered to meet the ideals of beauty.

Interestingly, these females often meet the criteria for anorexia by being 15 percent below

normal body weight.2


       For some women, ads can be devastating because they establish standards of

beauty that are unattainable for 99 percent of the populace.3 Repeated exposure to the

thin ideal can lead to the internalization of this ideal. It also portrays these images as

achievable and real. When women are confronted with their own mirror images, they

continue to measure themselves against an inhuman ideal.4


       Most women compare themselves to images of other women even when they are

not asked to do so. Women who are already dissatisfied with their bodies feel worse

about their bodies and exhibit increased weight concern after viewing images of models.

Considering that the majority of women are dissatisfied with their bodies, most women

will probably be more concerned with their weight after viewing these images. It seems

that women experience the greatest pressure to be thin from the media, followed by peers

and then family.5 So what is to be done about the images of women in advertising?


       As a very influential part of media today, the Net is a great tool for both helping

and hurting a woman’s self-image. While offering support groups for women with eating

disorders, the Net also contributes to reinforcing unreal standards of beauty. Some

organizations on the Net are, however, making some noise by taking a stand against the

portrayal of women in advertising. About-Face, for example, is a non-profit group that

promotes self-esteem in females of all ages, sizes, races and backgrounds through
education and activism. On their website users can view the “gallery of winners,” and

the, “gallery of offenders.” The former houses a collection of ads sent in by viewers that

“create a new model” of beauty, while the latter is home to ads they find offensive. The

site also features a link to comments by viewers, a list of resources, and suggestions for

self-empowerment and the empowerment of others.6


       Another website, called Adbusters, is a network of people who want to advance

the new social activist movement of the information age. The website provides

information about their magazine, shows different campaigns, and gives examples of

creative resistance. Adbusters offers international activist commentary addressing issues

ranging from genetically modified foods to the portrayal of women in the media.

“Ultimately, Adbusters is an ecological magazine, dedicated to examining the

relationship between human beings and their physical and mental environment.” 6 The

list of websites and advocacy groups goes on, but it will take time to tell if Net is an

effective tool for creating a new model for women in advertisements.7

_______________________
1
  Daniel Hill, Advertising to the American Woman. Columbus: Ohio State University
Press, 2002.
2
  Suzy Menkes, “Images That Disturb Yet Seduce,” International Herald Tribune (2003):
17 [online]; available from Infotrac Custom Newspapers.
http://www.galegroup.com/CustomNews/ (September 18, 2003).
3
  Menkes,17.
4
  Menkes,17.
5
  Menkes,17.
6
  Adbusters (2003): [online]. http://www.adbusters.org/home/ (September 22, 2003).
7
  Adbusters (2003): [online]. http://www.adbusters.org/home/ (September 22, 2003).
List of Web Sites:

Title of Web page: About-Face
Web address: http://www.about-face.org/
Brief Description: About-Face is a San Francisco-based, non-profit group that promotes
positive self-esteem in girls and women of all ages, sizes, races and backgrounds through
a spirited approach to media education, outreach and activism.
Source of Web site: The Tides Center

Title of Web page: Adbusters
Web address: http://www.adbusters.org/home/
Brief Description: Adbusters is a network of people who want to, “advance the new
social activist movement of the information age.” Their goal is to, “topple existing power
structures and forge a major shift in the way we will live in the 21st century.” To this
end, Adbusters Media Foundation publishes Adbusters magazine, operates this website
and offers its creative services through PowerShift, their advocacy advertising agency.
Source of Web site: Adbusters Media Foundation

Title of Web page: Children’s Media Project
Web address: http://www.childrensmediaproject.org/index.asp
Brief Description: Children’s Media Project is an arts and education organization
focusing on media and technology. Their mission is to create a teaching/learning
environment where people can learn to interact with the media arts.
Source of Web site: Dutchess County Children’s Health Initiative, The Dyson
Foundation, The Open Society Institute of the Soros Foundation, Markertek, The
Dutchess County Arts Council, The New York State Council on the Arts, The New York
Foundation of the Arts, Freygang Foundation, the McCann Foundation, Zickler Family
Foundation, The Experimental Television Center, Listen Up!, The Community
Foundation, and The Global Goals Institute.

Section VI.
I think that there is a good idea behind this assignment but, feel that it would be better for
students earlier in their college careers. It seems like a waste to learn this information my
senior year when I have already had to write papers and do research for them.

				
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