Back in April, which feels like a million years ago, I had the opportunity to meet one my personal sheroes - Jean Kilbourne, when she came to speak at a YWCA fundraiser luncheon. She presented one of her signature talks on women's portrayal in advertising. I had seen this on video before, but it was wonderful to be able to stalk-ishly introduce myself and I even got to chat with her a bit about body image in the fitness space.
I urge you to check out this brief trailer of her work:
It is incredibly challenging but necessary to remind ourselves to question, and even laugh at, the advertising images that bombard us. They are designed to make us feel like we're not enough so that we will BUY STUFF!
Every time I look at an ad, I think, What is this ad trying to say?
The answer is usually insulting/preposterous, depending on your point of view. Take this one for example, which I pass by many mornings on my way to class in Boston's Financial District. It's for an upscale nightclub and pictures a grown woman dressed as Red Riding Hood as a man looks on in the background. I've seen this thing in magazines, plastered on buses, etc...
What is the message here? "Come to this bar, where men are wolves, and women are prey?" Other than the attractiveness of the models, what exactly is "Red Hot" about this? Maybe I'm missing something? WTF?? Honestly people...
I wish we could just block it all out, the onslaught of images selling intentionally unattainable perfection, the demoralizing messages -- but that's not happening any time soon! For now we'll just have to keep on reminding ourselves not to get sucked in.
Jean Kilbourne has written several books, I plan to start reading her latest soon.