Tag Archives: degrading

Cultural Pressures of Thinness and Disorderly Eating


The above video shows a mildly clothed thin woman on the beach eating a large sandwich. This video is from a Hardees television commercial that depicts Nina Agdalin in provocative poses in comparison to the sandwich. When I first viewed the commercial I noticed the way she devoured the food in a sexual manner. After viewing a second time I noticed how this commercial has the potential to promote disorderly eating. As Biber mentions “The media bombards us with images of every imaginable food…at the same time women are subjected to an onslaught of sources devoted to dieting and maintenance of a sleek and supple figures” (67).   Physical perfection is displayed in advertisements of thin women eating immense portions of food. Physical perfection is often associated with thinness but yet foods that are harmful to the heath and have the possibility to make people fat are promoted along side skinny women. The representation of a skinny woman eating unhealthy food is damaging to a society that polices body conformity. Many people try to control their body weight by not eating fast food in order to obtain a similar body to ones viewed in commercials such as Hardees. These kinds of advertisements promote disorderly eating in an environment that juxtaposes unhealthy eating habits with unattainable figures.

Source: The Cult of Thinness by Sharlene Nagy Hesse- Biber


Ad Critique: Beer Goggles on Body Parts


These ads for Coopers Light Beer can be seen as misogynistic and sexist in two huge ways, but both pertain to the objectification of these women’s bodies and the sad reality of the impossible standards that women must strive to achieve in society, mainly from the beer-goggled eyes of heterosexual white men. The first pertains to the consumer only drinking the Light beer with only 2.9% alcohol in it, and therefore the man isn’t drunk enough to hook up with the unattractive woman, regardless of her “good qualities” in the photo. The other view is that the beer has 2.9% alcohol in it, which therefore makes that unattractive woman 2.9% more attractive through one part of her, be it her breasts, legs, or face. This goes on to relate women as objects that can be manipulated. As Hesse-Biber states, society objectifies people by seeing them as solely their body parts. “As we divide up our bodies, they conquer,” (66). The parts that are not attractive in the ads imply that these women are not trying, with their flabby arms and glasses that could possibly be eradicated with effort. Thus, these ads like many others “scold women for not caring,” (Hesse-Biber 64), but only for not caring about their appearances. The “constructed people” are implied as constructible as well, be it through the alcohol or the women’s own attempts, which simply enforces impossible expectations  of the body from society. 

Hesse-Biber, Sharlene Nagy. “The Cult of Thinness.” Oxford University Press. Oxford University, 2007. Print.

Anna Rexia Costume- In Stores Near You!

Today I happened to come across this CNN article about Halloween costumes, but it was a little different than what I had expected; the costume being discussed here was a sexy scary women’s anorexia costume.  This consists of a short black dress with a skeleton design and a tape measure “belt” and choker. 

I was absolutely shocked that costume companies have combined the generic theme of objectification and adorning women’s bodies now with increasingly prominent and serious female MEDICAL HEALTH ISSUES.  This encourages young women to participate in praising an eating disorder, openly welcoming it onto their bodies in the most degrading, sexualized way possible.  As noted in “The Cult of Thinness,” designers and companies are taking advantage of the ideal “ever thinner woman” and have now stooped so low as to try to sell a terrible disorder as a beauty ideal for women. 

This costume feels like a personal attack to me as a woman and makes me sick to think that somewhere, a girl is asking her mom to buy this costume because she wants to appear “perfect,” “skinny,” and sexy.”  This makes me think: Will the next costume be a “cancer costume,” or is that too gender neutral of a problem to put on the market?  Will women ever be exempt from such disgustingly inhumane advertising and targeted body shaming?

Hesse-Biber, Sharlene Nagy. “Selling the Body Beautiful: Food, Dieting, and Recovery.” The Cult of Thinness. New York: Oxford UP, 2007. 61-82. Print.


Ad Critique Post – DiGiorno Pizza Commercial

The DiGiorno commercial ties very well with the main ideas discussed in Beauvior’s text titled The Second Sex: Introduction and Lorber’s text titled The Social Construction of Gender. In this commercial both genders are stereotyped into traditional gender roles as the men are seen relaxing outside while viewing sports and the woman is seen heading into her home with two large grocery bags. The men decide to order a pizza – but the main male character decides to call his spouse instead to demand her to make him a pizza the way he likes it. She replies, “you know I hate when you do this” as if this is an everyday occurrence between the two of them. He then demands her to make the pizza quickly.  This commercial resembles how Beauvior discusses gender: “man defines woman not in herself but as relative to him” (Beauvior 33). Her existence is dependent on serving men instead of being independent to do the task she enjoys. Lober’s belief that gender “creates the social difference that define woman and man” because people “learn what is expected…thus simultaneously construct and maintain the gender order” (Lorber 115). This construction is seen as the woman is expected to make the pizza for the men as she always does. After making the pizza the woman retaliates by turning the sprinkler on the three men. The men have no reaction and continue to watch sports, as if they are oblivious to her existence. Their actions demonstrate that men are seen as the supreme and the woman is only significant in service to men. Therefore, the woman is only defined according to the men’s terms.

Judith Lorber, “The Social Construction of Gender”, 1990.

De Beauvoir, Simone. “The Second Sex: Introduction.”, 2003.

What is fairness?

Fairness involves an equal, unprejudiced representation for all genders. The term “Gender Identity Disorder” does not allow a fair representation for individuals that identify themselves as transgender. “Gender Identity Disorder” is an unfair portrayal because of the negative connotations surrounding the word “disorder”. GID is used to describe a person who experiences discomfort with their biological gender and identifies with the opposite gender as a more appropriate presentation.

I first heard the term while viewing “I Am Jazz – A Family Transition” on Oprah’s channel OWN. The show is a documentary following the life of a transgender preteen that identifies as a female.  While viewing the show I analyzed that the people associated with her are open and fair about her decisions but the term used to describe her condition throughout the documentary is unfair. The term depicts transgendered individuals with a disadvantage because it is not favorable. It identifies their sexual behavior as a mental disorder that should be fixed. It positions them in a category that conflicts with the natural social conditions in society. “Disorder” implies that transgenders are not performing gender correctly and as a result the phrase can create social inequality. Transgenders are subjected to a diagnosis that defines them as a disturbance.

This dynamics can affect the representation of self with dominant gender standards because transgenders may feel like they don’t belong in a society that categorizes them negatively. It also doesn’t allow them the freedom to be themselves without scrutiny. Overall, I think it is unfair to define transgenders as a disorder in our society. There should be an unprejudiced representation for all genders.

What do you think about the term? Am I being overly sensitive about the issue considering this isn’t a widely used term to describe transgendered individuals?

Ad Critique: Lindt Lindor Truffle Commercial

This is one of the more popular commercials for Lindt Lindor Chocolate Truffles.  In the commercial, one can see the person making the chocolate, a fully clothed male chef, and the person eating it, an over-sexualized woman.  The chocolate is being compared to something very sensual and passionate, which is what the woman is being reduced to.  The narrator is also a woman’s voice, which implies that this ad is directly targeting women.  Personally, I see nothing particularly gendered about chocolate, but many chocolate ads, such as this one, specifically exploit the implied sensualness of chocolate (due to it being a common aphrodisiac) in order to market it towards women.

Same Shirt, Different Strategies

Same Shirt, Different Strategies

In the above photo advertisement posted by American Apparel, the drastic difference between marketing strategies for men versus women is evident. The models are trying to sell the same shirt, yet the the way they’re being photographed is entirely different. The male model gets to stand casually dressed in everyday clothes while the female model is posing provocatively while bare chested and dressed only in lingerie.
So if it’s virtually the same shirt, why would the woman be portrayed so differently? And why isn’t the man posing in a provocative manner as well? Clearly, the ad reinforces current societal expectations for women. Firstly, it reinforces the idea that women are sex objects: “she appears essentially to the males as a sexual being. For him she is sex- absolute sex, no less” (de Beauvoir, 33). Furthermore, the effectiveness of the ad relies on the notion that women base their own self worth on how sexually appealing her partner finds her. Women are consistently depicted like this because society teaches women to be competitive in their desire to be sex objects for men (Hooks, 127). The ad shows that men are clearly not expected to think the same way.

De Beauvoir, Simone. “The Second Sex: Introduction.” Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives. Ed. Carole R. McCann and Seung-Kyung Kim. New York: Routledge, 2003. 32-40. Print.

Hooks, Bell. “Sisterhood Political Solidarity Between Women.” Palgrave Macmillion Journals. Jun 2010. Web.