**Clicking on images will open a larger version of the image, links to known sources are at the bottom of the post**
For the past several hundred years we have been subjected to advertisements that are aimed towards a specific gender, advertisements that target an audience in a specific way, and advertisements that are downright sexist.
I don’t generally consider myself “feminist”, which is probably going to get me a little heat. I do support equal rights for all, but I honestly don’t care about some of the problems. However, I will stand up with all the other feminists when it comes to blatant “in your face” sexism.
Over the last few weeks I have watched ads pop up on Facebook, on my apps, on the sides of web pages, in emails, walking around in malls, and driving down the freeway.
“No thigh gap? The problem is real!”
“SkinnyMint, say ‘NO’ to bloating!”
“Cleaning tips for Lazy girls.”
Are we trying to take equal rights backwards? Now, the ads are not just that simple and I want to break down some simple ones here for you today.
After all the frustration of seeing these advertisements, I feel like I have taken a step backwards into a different century, I decided to do a little research.
I took five minutes—just a small segment of time that most people generally spend scrolling through their feed—and I looked for ads. In just those five minutes I found over ten things that were sexist or demeaning that were posted. Not everything I saw was ads. There were quizzes and photos and fake articles, it goes on.
At this point, I really wanted to rip my hair out. So I took a break, watched something stupid, did my laundry, took a shower, and went to bed. Today I took the next step.
I went to my local library and took several popular magazines to flip through. I also started looking up popular brands: food, clothing, hygiene, etc. I came back with a lot more than I originally imagined that I would.
First, I want to start by asking: what are advertisements teaching children?
I kept having an ad for a toy pop up on a solitaire app that I use on my tablet, “Have boys? buy hot wheels.” I have included three videos for older versions of these ads because I could not find the exact one that I saw. Still, who is to say that my niece doesn’t want to build a tower race track for her cars? She loves cars. She loves building things. So it makes sense that she would really enjoy these toys, and yet they are advertised specifically for boys. These ads make some girls feel inadequate and unable to achieve what they would like in the future.
I refuse to tell my niece that she cannot be a race car driver, mechanic, or toy car collector; however, I am now reluctant to purchase Hot Wheels products.
What advertisements teach children gets more extreme around puberty. Children, especially young girls (all girls, including trans-girls), develop an ideal body image. Seeing all the sexualization of women around them only goes to enhance these views.
The image above advertises a wax service for girls 15 years old and younger. FIFTEEN and YOUNGER! Is it right to start sexualizing our children so young? I have heard people ask again and again why children are having sex or acting so “mature” so young. I hate to say it, but it is the fault of everything around them.
Being a lesbian, I am not a stranger to the “Nature vs Nurture” debate. Many hours spent researching different sides to different things leads to similar findings. Behaviors that have to do with racism, sexual activity, bullying… Those are all products of the environment that they are exposed to. Ads play a big part in that.
The above ad from Proactive insults young girls (or boys) that have acne by claiming that acne is the reason that they might not have a boyfriend. This sort of statement brings down their body image. This makes them feel terrible about themselves and they turn to other things to feel better.
I will come back to body image in a minute, but I just need to touch on something very important first: advertisements on apps. Children are a big part of the community that plays apps on phones or tablets. Many app-games are made with “sexy” characters or are advertised with “sexy” women to grab attention. Children see these ads. Don’t believe me?
One of the most common ads that I have seen for a singular app recently was for Game of War.
The commercial starts out with a woman in a large tub with women pouring water over her. She then rides out to war in armor that wouldn’t protect anything. This is a fairly adult oriented ad that is plays on youth games and that some children play.
So, body image plays a large part in the lives of both women and men. The majority of the ads I come across however, are aimed at women.
( I would like to take a moment to clarify. A healthy BMI for an adult woman is between 18.5 and 24.9. This does not take into account your bone structure. I would like for everyone to understand that every single person is built differently. I have a friend who is has a very small build; her bone structure is very small, close together, pixie like. I have another friend who has a thicker build. Her bones are set farther apart and her body is larger because of it. Smaller structures take on less weight generally than larger structures, so you should not compare yourself to other people. )
This first image is a spread from US Weekly. Two separate weight loss systems (Hydroxycut left, SkinnyStix right). There seems to be an obsession with weight loss, even among those that are fully in a healthy BMI range. A small amount of “pudge” and suddenly many women see themselves as fat.
I had surgery about two months ago and I gained ten pounds within four days of surgery. Now, I am not someone who would generally ever look at myself like this, but my initial reaction was “Oh shit, how am I getting fat?” I was on narcotics at the time and not thinking straight, but just having those thoughts at all scared me.
I spent a good portion of my life with body image issues, just not the ones that most young girls live with. I could not gain weight. I felt that I was too skinny, that being skinny made me ugly. I tried my hardest to gain weight. Most of my life I was under an 18 BMI and no matter what I did, I couldn’t gain weight.
I have women in my life that have lived the other side of this line. Anorexia and bulimia running their lives, making 100lb girls believe that they were fat. All because our society is struggling to “lose weight” and “burn fat” even when there isn’t really anything to lose.
We have pre-teen girls counting calories instead of having fun with their friends, and trying to find any way to be beautiful. They fall into advertising traps like the ad below.
The ad above says to women that, basically, to really be beautiful, you need to use our products. If not, you aren’t trying hard enough. Push young girls to think about beauty, push young women to think about sexy, push women to think about sex, sex, sex.
I am familiar with the expression “sex sells” but sometimes this goes too far. Carl’s Jr. has a huge selection of “sexy” ads for their food, unrealistically over-sexualizing a commercial to make it seem erotic.
“Watch as this seemingly naked woman walks through a market, that seems to only be men, and turns out to just be wearing skimpy clothing and eating a juicy burger.” Really? Carl’s Jr. doesn’t just do video commercials, they also do print ads with as much decency and respect for women.
“Could we be wearing less and be weighing any less while eating these burgers?”
Right, classy penis jokes are fantastic when it has to do with food I want in my mouth. Delicious.
Now, I don’t know who did this photo, but I added it for realism and humility. This is a more realistic view of someone who eats Carl’s Jr. like they do in the ads. In an attempt to bring things down a notch and show people part of the reason why we are really fighting obesity. I am not saying that a little weight is bad, but I am saying that sexualizing junk food is a reason that people eat so much crap.
Carl’s Jr. isn’t the only food company trying to use sex to sell their food; Mars Inc. has also joined in this debacle.
I might be wrong, but I believe this is the first sexualized candy coated chocolate in history. Thanks Mars Inc. It was always important for women to be further degraded by a piece of animated candy. It gets worse.
The captions around the above image read: “Best Attribute: Honey, I can’t even choose. That’s your job. Appearance: Beauty of this magnitude can’t be described in words.” This makes it seem like a female has no thought of her own and cannot make up her mind. Also note the empty thought bubble. Because this isn’t demeaning at all.*rolls eyes*
Sexualization in the sexist society of ads does not stop at food, oh no. If having a sexy piece of candy wasn’t enough, how about turning a woman into a car magazine for BMW?
Because men only care about cars and boobs. Either that or cars are the only thing that they can think of to get them off. Either way, this is not an accurate depiction of attraction between human beings. These advertisements do not give a healthy view on what it should be like to be a woman or a man in currant day society. Women are not objects or possessions. Men are not mindless hungry beasts.
And then we have a phone telling us that “Same is not sexy.” This is both a good and a bad message. The bad message is basically telling us that “If you are truly sexy then you will have this product.” While the underlying message is saying to make up your own mind and stop trying to be just like everyone else. Though their intention is to gain sales, just like every other product ad ever made, this can also be one of the few positive points. Same ISN’T sexy.
I don’t want to date someone that looks just like everybody else. I don’t want to read the same damn story again and again. And I most certainly don’t want to act like everyone else. I am an individual and I deserve to be myself and treat myself with that respect. So do you.
I wish more young girls could open their minds to the idea that “Same is not sexy.” So that we would not have so many little girls trying to look like Victoria secret models.
Victoria’s Secret had an ad campaign going around that was called “love my body.” They had the above ad and the “Perfect body” ad circulating. Every single one of their models were skinny and fairly large breasted. Victoria’s Secret was promoting body issues in women. Girls look at these models and tell themselves: “This is beauty, I can’t be beautiful unless I look like that.” But it’s a sick lie. I am willing to bet that each of those four women are below a healthy BMI.
The woman on the far left is absolutely too skinny. I am not saying this to skinny shame. I was a small girl, but I had muscles. If you look at that woman, you can see her ribs poking out. There are no upper arm muscles and her upper legs look gaunt.
These are not healthy women. They are airbrushed, photoshopped, anorexics.
I was told in the past: “Only women’s underwear is so sexualized, men’s underwear is much simpler.” Huh.
Calvin Klein: Naked woman on the back of a man with an airbrushed torso. “Sex”.
Michael Kors: Possibly naked women behind a man who has an airbrushed torso with her hand going down his boxers. “Sex”.
jbs: topless woman wearing men’s underwear while lifting weights; also obviously shopped. “Sex.”
Each of these advertisements featured an under clothed woman, and sometimes an under clothed man. All for men’s underwear. Googling “men’s underwear ads” you get mostly naked men that are over sexed. These advertisements are still very sexualized.
Using sex to sell products isn’t a good thing and can lead to things that are even worse. Not only are we giving girls and women a poor self-worth because of how we portray women in advertisements. We can end up with the following:
*Note: the above post was removed by Belvedere Vodka and a formal apology was issued, but the fact remains that it was posted at all.
This ad presents an interesting and terrible face for the company at the time that it was posted. It insinuated that the company was promoting rape. The woman in the ad above obviously is not happy with what is going on with the man. She looks like she is trying to fight him off and the ad says: “Unlike some people Belvedere always goes down smoothly.”
Well, I’ll never go down without a fight, that is for sure.
Some people argue that advertisements like the one above only serve to “put women in their place”. Well, that wasn’t the only ad that put women “in their place”.
The above ad puts women in a vulnerable position. Is she too weak to walk, can she not afford a cab? She doesn’t have to wear heals, but they didn’t have to pose their ad like they did. “Because sometimes, a girl’s gotta walk.” I’m not amused.
I’ll say right now, I don’t generally buy shoes for looks. If I buy heals, I can usually run in them. If I want to wear sneakers with a dress, I will damn well wear sneakers with a dress. Why would I need to buy specific shoes (and take them with me) in case of a situation like above. Also, just, what? No.
The following post isn’t actually an ad, but it follows in the footsteps of a lot of what I was talking about earlier.
Women, men, everyone else: first, gender is not binary. Second, what one does has nothing to do with any other. Try to be the best person you can be. Eventually, maybe, people around you will learn to be their best as well and not treat others as lesser.
Weight: everyone has it, it’s not a skinny issue, just look after actual health.
Cleaning: everyone’s issue. It’s not for women, it’s not for men. It is for everybody.
There is NO such thing as “boy’s toys” and “girl’s toys”.
No one should be sexualizing children.
Acne is NOT the reason that you do or do not have a significant other.
A certain brand of soap will not make you more or less beautiful.
Carl’s Jr. is advertised by sexist pigs.
Mars inc. What is wrong with you? Stop turning your only female M&M into a sex object!
Cars aren’t really that sexy.
Neither are phones.
You don’t have to be skinny and photoshopped to love your body.
Men are not attractive to me, so I have nothing to say about their underwear honestly.
Rape is NOT okay. Don’t do it! Don’t joke about it! Don’t ignore it! Rape is bad!
Shoes don’t make a girl.
Women: you are beautiful. Know that someone loves you. And smile for yourself today.
Game of War