This research study is designed to compare the images of men and those of women in advertisements. Since advertisements are ubiquitous, they become an important part of society and exert subtle influence on socialization.
Socialization is defined as a “process through which people learn the expectations of society” (Scott Outline 7a). People learn the norms, the values, and the culture of society, and train themselves to conform to adapt to it. To illustrate the process, sociologists develop the symbolic interaction theory. According to the theory, people should understand the social expectations and symbols associated with a particular status in order to interpret people’s behaviors. This understanding is achieved through social interaction, and every object that people interact with can be an agent of socialization. For example, we learn how to be a “proper” male or female while interacting with parents, teachers, and friends, and especially while browsing ads, which depict the preferred gender roles of society.
Although people claim that advertisements have no effect on them, their views towards both genders are still largely shaped by the media images, because advertisements create an environment in which people subconsciously form the mainstream expectations of males and females (Jean Kilbourne, Killing Us Softly 4, 2010). Therefore, it is very necessary to examine the information that ads convey to us.
I selected eight advertisements from two magazines. Four of them are from Cosmopolitan, a magazine aimed at female consumers, and the rest of them are from Gentlemen’s Quarterly, a magazine with young males as a target audience.
The four ads from Cosmopolitan advertise body washes, a lip stick, a BB cream and potato chips. Three of the four ads’ actresses are female celebrities and the other contains a couple. The four ads from Gentlemen’s Quarterly advertise a men’s fragrance, men’s underwear, a men’s watch and jeans. Two of the ads involve both males and females, and the other two solely contain males.
Generally, the female characters in ads are good-looking young women. Their statuses cannot be determined from the ads, because there are no specific social contexts in them. Two of them only have facial close-ups, one of them is just posing with two bags of chips, and one of them is bathing with her boyfriend. None of the ads indicate their occupations. The backgrounds of the ads consist of no social settings but just visual designs that attract people’s attention to the characters’ physical appearance. The backgrounds of the lipstick and BB cream ads are just black, the chips ad is blue, and the body wash ad is in a room where sunlight comes through the window and shines on the woman’s skin. Females are presented as creatures whose only trait is good-looks.
The characteristics of females in the ads can be summarized as innocent, vulnerable, sexy, good-build and perfect. Two females of the cosmetic ads are presented with their mouth slightly open and eyes out of focus, which remind me of a blank look of kids. One of the innocent looking females is pale and seems vulnerable. Another female has an exaggerated facial expression with her mouth roundly open, and her body is in a twisted position to show her curvy body shape. The other female character is nude, so it is easy to see that she is slim and curvy. All of the women are perfect. There are no pores or wrinkles on their faces. Even though one of them is only 18 years old and demonstrates a child-like look, she does not have freckles, which is a lovely but flawed feature of children. The two women who present their body in ads have even skin tone. Their body skin has no pores and looks perfectly smooth.
In summary, the products advertised are not related to the females’ occupations or personalities. Basically, females are using their body or look to promote the product. This point of view is best...