The Trail of Stereotypes
by ODST862 on September 27, 2016 - 2:27pm
Released in Australia almost a decade ago, the advertisement “Trail of Destruction” featuring ZU Shoes sets as another example depicting the “ideal fashion” for women. It brings out the stereotypical and problematic message that women are meant to be seductive through the exaggerated reaction of the males in the advertisement.
To begin with, this fashion advertisement was meant to promote the heels sandals, but instead it promotes the body image of a White woman. The advertisement features a well-dressed woman with a slim body and a long trail of topless and muscular men who fall behind her. Interestingly enough, the woman seems to play dominant role here as demonstrated by her confident look. Behind this advertisement which seems creative, it is also a stereotypical message that has been instilled in the gender roles: women have to be sexually attractive in order to win over men. The idea of superiority is expressed through how the woman’s beauty “destroys” the heart of all the men she encountered as the title of the ad suggests. In the advertisement, the men lying on the ground suggest that they are conquered by the beauty of the woman. She thus become a powerful figure who doesn’t adhere to male authority. However, this idea is attached to the patriarchy that still affects our culture today. Women are regarded as less competent than men and their abilities cannot compensate their physical appearance (Cortese, 68). The ad provides an ideal body image combining with the fashion product to deliver a message to women that this is what they are supposed to become.
The major issue in this advertisement is the definition of beauty. Similar to many other fashion ads, this one uses the stereotypical body image to represent the garments as gorgeous as possible (Cortese, 59). It is, however, problematic that women have to rely on their physical appearances as it is irrelevant to their abilities and other attributes. The media culture seems unable to break the traditional thinking and ends up misleading many young women into the pursuit of the finest appearance instead of other virtues (Cortese 60). It ignores the internal characteristics of women such as intelligence and compassion. It simply labels them as consumers who have great demand of esthetic products and fashion. It is worth mentioning that the people that appear in this advertisement are all White people. This brings out another concern that the media culture still prefers the use of models from White ethnic group in the advertisement than those from other ethnic background. It is far from racism, but it nonetheless suggests that White people possess higher esthetic values over other races. It is a pity that women are still depicted as seductive in order to conform to the narrow sense of beauty although there are other alternatives that can embody a woman’s beauty.
Although the media tends to instill an ideal body image in our culture, it is by no means necessary to subvert our standards for beauty. It is likely for us to ignore the internal beauty of women, so it will be important to demonstrate that women can be attractive without being seductive as well. In this case, for example, we can rename the advertisement as “Trail of Happiness” by displaying multiple ordinary couples from different ethnic background walking together while holding hands. Not only it is beautiful to see cute couples going together, but it can also deliver the idea of harmony between races and genders as the couple supports each other by holding their hands and walks together through the rest of their life. It brings a positive message to the public while remaining in touch with the products. After all, who doesn’t need shoes to walk?
Cortese, Anthony. “Constructed Bodies, Deconstructing Ads: Sexism in Advertising.” Provocateur: Images of Women and Minorities in Advertising, Third Edition. New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2008. 57-89.