Stereotype in Ads

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Stereotype is generally a generalization about a group of people that other people

make based on their personal experiences or limited knowledge. In advertising

industry, stereotypes conform to a visual pattern of appearance and behavior that is

easily recognized and understood to communicate to the audiences. Sometimes

stereotype is deliberately set up to stimulate demand particularly in women and

beauty business. Producers create needs by using images of ideal women which are

unattainable for all but a very small number of women then the stereotype is

reinforced to customers by the presence of advertisement. On the one hand, this

strategy seems to have a powerful effect as beauty industries are continually growing.

On the other hand, research indicates that exposure to images of unrealistic ideal

female bodies is linked to depression, loss of self-esteem and the development of

unhealthy eating habits in women and girls.

Dittrich (1998) reports that the average person sees between 400-600 advertisements

per day, and one out of eleven of these advertisements contain a direct message of

beauty. Guillen and Barr (1994) track a magazine for adolescent girls over 20 years

and found an increasing majority of advertisements and articles promoting weight

loss, while Hertzler and Grun (1990) examined 117 magazines and found and

implication that women need to be slim, as well as fit and young, and to use cosmetic

products in order to be beautiful (Smith, 1997, p. 16). In cosmetic and diet product

industries, stereotypes are used in advertising to reinforce the importance of a thin

body as a measure of a woman’s worth. “Advertising delivers a commentary to

women that, to secure their fascination and preference of men, they will relinquish the

approval and sisterhood of women and that the sacrifice is worthwhile” (Cortese,

2004, p. 25). By presenting an ideal image of ‘perfect women’ which is difficult to

achieve and maintain or even unattainable, they are assured of growth and profits. The

past five years have witnessed the increasing sales of cosmeceutical products,

products that are claimed to have drug-like benefits including acne treatment, anti-

aging, skin care, hair care, and other professional skin protection, among women.

Industry data indicates that these products “have more than doubled in sales over five

years” (Chao, 2005, p. D6).

"Gender images hit at the heart of individual identity" (Cortese, 2004, p. 52). Many

women are used in advertisements to sell items for body. Many of these products are

specifically to enhance one's beauty and by doing this, she is more in control of

herself. In one an advertising campaign about woman body lotion, a woman is shown

at different points in her life. First as a young girl happily roller skating with friends,

then on her wedding day in her gorgeous white wedding dress with her husband, and

then at swimming pool in a two-piece swimsuit with their daughter. The secret to her

‘happiness’ is revealed as the Nivea My Silhouette lotion she applies to help her skin

look ‘fit and firm’. It suggests that using the product regularly will lead to a reduction

of fat on targeted body parts such as thighs, hips, waist and stomach. Then end with

the slogan “Beauty is feeling good, Beauty is Nivea.” At first glance it seemed cliché

and similar to other ads that reinforce the stereotype of women as a beauty object and

consider image to be of major importance. However, upon closer look it also implied

that if women can maintain their beauty, they will have it all—a happy life, the

perfect marriage, loving children, and a rewarding career. Kilbourne (1990) concludes

that it is the real tragedy that many women internalize these stereotypes, and judge

themselves by the beauty industry's standards.

While women who are...
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