Ad Critique: Gender, Race and Mass Media Audiences

Advertising monetizes ideals. In buying shampoo, you are not buying shampoo but a revolutionary product that promises to transform your life because of its’ magical straightening properties. Whether it’s straighter hair or lighter skin, advertising frequently sells idealized beauty. That is to say, a white, upper- middle class idealized beauty.

This construction makes even the most popular and praised women change. For instance, Beyonce has famously had her nose done and allegedly has undergone skin lightening treatments. If this was her independent choice, then I think most would not flinch. However, it is a larger societal pressure that makes even the most celebrated women morph into whiter versions of themselves to gain wider appeal and desirability.

In this L’Oreal advertisement, Beyonce underwent significant phenotypic changes. These changes may make her power and existence more digestible to a wider audience (chambers). In doing so, this ad bolsters the dominant white beauty ideal.


Samuel A. Chambers, “Heteronormativity and the L-Word” (2006)

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