Feminism and Advertising

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In nearly every magazine published today, virtually fifty percent of the content is advertisements. Gone are the days where one would pick up a magazine to read the articles. Magazines have become the fashion and body image bible where young girls and women alike turn to, to be told how to live. The unfortunate reality is that these magazines present an image and a lifestyle that virtually no woman could live up to. Women aspire to look like the next "it girl" or to become the women in these magazines. Women measure themselves against each other, against what men are telling them, what fashion magazines say, what popular culture suggests and every time they come away feeling a failure. (Ramirez, Lesson 5) In truth though, this is nearly impossible as only 5% of American women actually have this body type. (Kilbourne). Furthermore, the advertisements offered in these magazines demonstrate ideals and lifestyles that are not only unattainable, but also demeaning.

This essay will provide an analysis of a magazine advertisement taken from Cosmopolitan Magazine, a popular magazine for both women and girls. It will demonstrate how the advertising industry at large demeans and degrades women by selling them not only a tangible good, but also a way of life that is unachievable and humiliating for women everywhere.

The advertisement chosen for this assignment is a fashion ad for "bebe" clothing. The ad features a young woman (Misha Barton from the television show "The OC") standing behind a large wrought iron fence. She is dressed in all black with a black veil covering her face. There is a man kneeling beside her wearing nothing but leopard print briefs.

In her article Girls, Media, and the Negotiation of Sexuality Gigi Durham Meengleshi notes ". . . the passage out of childhood for many girls means that they experience a loss of self esteem and self-determination as cultural norms of femininity and sexuality are imposed upon them." (Shaw and Lee, 217)...
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