Stereotyping in Advertising

Topics: Mass media, Gender, Stereotype Pages: 7 (1429 words) Published: May 25, 2010


This paper aims to focus in the presence and evolution of gender stereotypes in advertising. So, we could start defining stereotypes and more specifically, media gender stereotypes.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a stereotype could be defined as :”A preconceived and oversimplified idea of the characteristics which typify a person, situation, etc.; an attitude based on such a preconception. Also, a person who appears to conform closely to the idea of a type.”

Stereotypes are conventional and oversimplified conceptions, based on assumptions. Though generally viewed as negative perceptions, stereotypes may be either positive or negative in tone. Stereotypes can be basic or complex generalizations which people apply to individuals or groups based on their appearance, behaviour and beliefs. Stereotypes are found everywhere.

The world as it is presented on TV has a big effect on the viewers. The underlying attitudes and messages are very strong; they communicate cultural values, which shape the way we think and the way we interact.

Media stereotypes are inevitable, especially in the advertising, entertainment and news industries, which need as wide an audience as possible to quickly understand information. Stereotypes act like codes that give audiences a quick, common understanding of a person or group of people—usually relating to their class, ethnicity or race, gender, sexual orientation, social role or occupation. The media often uses and misrepresents stereotypes; however, they are significantly accepted by people among society.

We’ve divided this paper into two parts: first of all, we will analyze female stereotypes and then we will develop male and masculinity stereotypes.

From infancy, our culture teaches what it means to be a boy or a girl. From the colour of clothes to the toys we play with, the messages begin at a very early age. Young people are influenced to conform a variety of expectations, to buy this or the other and to preserve a set of values that stress the differences between genders.


Nowadays, advertising is omnipresent in our lives, and has a really strong influence in our decisions as consumers. The aim is no longer to inform us of a new product and its use, it is more to create a wish to possess a product. Moreover, advertising has become a centre of attraction.

Therefore we are led to think that advertising reflects our way of life and of thinking. The way to represent women is a good example of it. The advertising of the twentieth century shows indeed the evolution of the women’s status.

Advertising lives in the short-form world. Because mass media is so expensive the 30 second commercial is conventional and because there is so much clutter simplified signals are essential to 'cut through'. One form of communication short-hand used as a default is the stereotype. Also the printed advertisement uses stereotypes because they have to impact in the mind of the viewers in just one glance.

But stereotypes can be problematic.They can:

reduce a wide range of differences in people to simplistic categorizations

transform assumptions about particular groups of people into "realities"

be used to justify the position of those in power

perpetuate social prejudice and inequality


This part explores female stereotypes in entertainment and news media and their effect on cultural ideas of beauty, and how these stereotypes influence the social development of young women.

Typical female stereotypes:

Lovers, wives, mistresses:

woman as nurturing partner / sex object woman as sex fantasy object woman as sex fantasy made real
bitter and/or suffocatingly small-minded, petty wife


This picture is a clear example of women submissiveness as male’s sexual fantasy.


woman as nurturing mother, clueless about the world

Windows on the World: Media Discourse in English
(Antonia Sánchez Macarro, ed.)
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