Tag Archives: advertisement


Virtual strippers sell the clothes they take off…?

The premise behind this “social striptease” is that by linking your facebook or twitter accounts to the website link provided you can command a virtual model to remove his/her clothing. By clicking on a particular clothing piece, the virtual model removes it and an advertisement for it gets posted to your social media account. This advertising strategy absolutely reinforces the ultra thin standards of the slender body as outlined by Bordo. But perhaps more disturbing, is the interactive nature of voyeuristic consumption. As opposed to a still image magazine ad, or a 30 second tv spot, these semi naked bodies are created explicitly for the desiring gaze of the customer. Moreover, the interactive interface actually sutures the customer into a position of power over the sexualized body, and creates a bizarre power structure that encourages the objectification of the virtual body.  At least they are egalitarian in their objectification, providing both male and female virtual models.

Bordo, Susan. Unbearable Weight. Berkley: University of California Press. 1993


Ad Critique: NuvaRing

This video is of the updated NuvaRing advertisement. If you look closely, one of the older ads is playing in the background. This relates closely to the Angela Davis reading “Racism, Birth Control and Reproductive Rights.” The NuvaRing is a form of birth control that is advertised as being more convenient than the pill. However, it is quite expensive. While in the long term, as compared to the pill, it might save money, the thing about being poor is that you may have some money at a given time but maybe not enough to actually afford the one-time NuvaRing. This already puts up a class barrier as to who can actually get this form of birth control. Next, there is the definite race component. These ads, both the current and old ones have all white women except for the “token black woman.” There is little diversity, which also ties back in to the Davis reading. Their target audience is primarily white middle to upper class people. That is where they perceive the money to be. This ad is also noticeably full of cis women. As brought up in both of the Spade readings, bodies are not inherently gendered. There are people who are not cis women who also could benefit from this product (but are most likely going to be denied it or misgendered in order to get it). The gendering of certain bodies definitely influences the availability of medical care available and presented to them.

Ad critique: Woman, the Holiday Swiss Army Knife

As we begin the official holiday shopping season, retailers are inundating the American public with advertisements online, in print, and in mailings with the hopes of luring in shoppers and their wallets.  Bed, Bath & Beyond, well-versed in all the above advertising approaches (I can wallpaper my bedroom with the amount of $5 coupons they’ve sent me), posted this image as part of their online holiday catalog.  The 8-limbed woman in the image perfectly illustrates the domestic expectations placed upon women year-round, especially during the holiday season.  At the holidays, women are expected to cook, clean and entertain at a higher level than the rest of the year, and BB&B is here to make that happen!


Don’t bother enlisting the help of spouses, children, family, or friends–instead pick up 5 or 6 kitchen gadgets (starting at the low price of $9.99!) and get to work slicing, dicing, carving, mixing, sous-vide-ing, mashing, stuffing, peeling, sauteing, warming, brining, frying, baking, and pouring.  When everyone has fallen into a food coma, you can get to work clearing, scrubbing, soaking, soaping, rinsing, spraying, wiping, washing, drying, polishing, and packing away all your fine china til next year.  Make sure to quip about how sinful the pumpkin pie is, and thank God you’re doing all this manual labor to burn off the calories–you put so much butter in the mashed potatoes, after all!

Ad Critique: I’m Beautiful the Way I Am


I was impressed to learn of a new ad campaign that New York City is running directed at young girls. Meant to tackle issues of self-esteem and body image, the posters depict girls of many different races, ages and sizes, engaged in a variety of activities. They’re accompanied by variants on the slogan, “I’m a girl. I’m smart, a leader, adventurous, friendly, funny. I’m beautiful the way I am.”

The diversity of representation in the ads is clearly unusual; the depiction of . The girls are portrayed as dynamic, multivalent individuals. In contrast to many representations of little girls in advertisements, these girls aren’t hyperfeminized; they aren’t wearing tutus and playing house. These girls, in short, can grow up to be anything. The ads’ text refers to the girls’ many attributes. They aren’t exclusively valued for their appearances, an issue John Berger discusses in “Ways of Seeing:” women are typically regarded as exclusively ornamental, not instrumental. In this campaign, their intangible qualities and abilities are emphasized.

Or so it seems. In each ad, the dominant sentence–in a large font, below the rest of the slogan–is “I’m beautiful the way I am.” This is meant, of course, to refer both to “inner beauty” and to the affirmation of beauty across various body types and races. But should this be the takeaway? Is it enough to expand the definition of beauty, if only to continue insisting that women embody it? This campaign does well to broaden how “beauty” is construed, but it still shouldn’t be a determining factor in how we affirm girls’ worth. Girls should be affirmed as smart, as leaders, as adventurous, friendly and funny. They should be reminded that their worth doesn’t depend on how beautiful they are. They should be reminded that they don’t exist to be looked at.

Works Cited: Berger, John. “Ways of Seeing.” From Jones, Amelia, ed. “The Feminist & Visual Culture Reader.” New York, Routledge: 2003.

Ad Critique: Ashley Madison

There is a lovely woman by the name of Jackie who is both an avid feminist, fat activist, and softcore porn model/web model.  Her picture was taken without her permission and used in an Ashley Madison ad displayed below:


Aside from this image being used without Jackie’s permission, and the gross concept that is Ashley Madison, this is a horrific example of fat shaming.  It is directly implying that because “your wife” is fat, that she is automatically scary and undesirable.  The implications of this are that the affair one would be having would be with a thin, desirable, attractive woman.  The fact that this ad was placed in such a prominent place, the Wall Street Journal, shows just how pervasive fat shaming is in society and how fat is a body type that is deemed universally undesirable.  While Jackie’s mere profession shows this to be directly false, it adds to the stigma around being a woman and being fat. This is analyzed very closely in the Marilyn Wann reading, the Fat Studies Reader in which Wann outlines the stigma around being fat.  Fat bodies are both sexualized and desexualized at once.  In this advertisement, she is clearly in a sexual pose, but simply for the purposes of being desexualized. Fat bodies are often sexualized as a joke to contrast with the “very obviously” better and more attractive thin bodies.

Intel Core 2 Duo Commodifies Black Men


This print advertisement is selling a powerful computer processor, and utilizes the objectified black male body to do so. The advertisement depicts a middle-aged white man in office attire with his arms crossed and his gaze focused at the viewer. In contrast, six black men are crouched beside and behind him; they are wearing athletic gear, and hunched over as if they are about to begin a track race. Most importantly, their faces are bent and hidden away from the viewer, as opposed to the straight-forward representation of the white man’s face. Text above the men states, “Multiply computer performance and maximize the power of your employees.”

This advertisement makes use of a common media representation of black males by reducing them to their athletic bodies. “Historically, African American men were depicted primarily as bodies ruled by brute strength,” states Patricia Hill Collins (Hill Collins 152). The depiction of the men in the Intel advertisement dehumanizes and objectifies them; they are faceless and uniform tools for the white man’s character to use in improving his work efficiency. The juxtaposition of the black men and the white man also portrays an unbalanced power dynamic. Reminiscent of slave imagery, the advertisement is “relegating Black men to the work of the body” in a manner “designed to keep them poor and powerless” (Hill Collins 153).

This advertisement is likely targeting upper-middle-class, educated professionals who might make use of processors for company technology. In addition to selling the processor, the advertisement sells power and control by objectifying black male bodies to make them marketable additions to the advertisement.

Patricia Hill Collins. “Booty Call: Sex Violence, and Images of Black Masculinity.” 2004.
Intel Core 2 Duo Processor Advertisement

Selling Jeans?


I remember driving by Joe’s Jeans billboards when I was younger (before I even considered issues such as women’s objectification) and being puzzled. Isn’t this a jeans company? Why is this a picture of bare butts? I think this particular ad captures some of the music video/advertisement conventions touched on in Dreamworlds 3. Of course there is the emphasis on a single part of her body, while the piece of clothing Joe’s is selling is minimized. Also significant is the point of view – the photographer captures the man’s perspective as he stares at the woman, and therefore the audience takes his view. This billboard also captures John Berger’s concept of the woman being both the surveyor and the surveyed. Here the woman is highly conscious of the man watching her, and the viewers of the ad see her being watched; similar to music videos, she is portrayed as wanting to be watched. This ad seems to sell a heterosexual male fantasy more than a pair of women’s jeans.

Berger, John. “From Ways of Seeing.” Trans. Array The Feminism and Visual Culture Reader. New York: Routledge, 2003. 37-39. Print.

Jhally, S., Killoy, A., Bartone, J., & Media Education Foundation. (2007). Dreamworlds 3: Desire, sex & power in music video. Northampton, MA: Media Education Foundation.