Women in Advertisements: Nothing Hunky-Dory Here
by elleellenews on February 27, 2017 - 5:10pm
Welcome to world of advertising! Where companies use sexual innuendoes, half-naked women and a few cleverly written slogans to capture the attention of consumers for a product that is camouflaged amongst all these tactics.
This ad is in no way different. In fact, Hunky Dorys, the Irish potato chips company shown above, is no stranger to these types of advertisements. Its Largo Food campaign has been scrutinized several times,“attract[ing] a large number of complaints to the advertising watchdog”, with some saying its ads are “depressing” and “tasteless”, while others saying they are a “blatant exploitation of women” (Pope ).
In this particular scene, a woman appears to be very under-dressed for the sport she is playing. She is running towards a goal line with a ball in her possession and sporting the national team’s colours with only a push-up bra jersey and some panties. Her naïve-looking eyes are directed away from the camera and her hair is pulled back so that audiences can focus their gaze on her oversized breasts and revealed body. At the bottom of the ad, it is mentioned that this snack is “a proud supporter of Gaelic Football”, a male-dominated Irish sport which seems to be proudly showcasing this support with the help of its ‘female teammates’, so to speak. Just to the left of the woman lies the word “TAAAASTY”, with one too many A’s left in as an emphasis. This word is an innuendo, expressing the scrumptious taste of not only the snack, but of the scantily-clad woman and all her features that a man would find, well, tasty.
This advertising style is all too familiar when it comes to embodying “the perfect provocateur: young [and] beautiful” as it promotes ideal beauty standards and unattainable body types that are constantly pressured onto women (Cortese 59). This ad is swift to showcase a model with large breasts and minimal clothing to satisfy her hairless, tanned, slim, fit figure and engage viewers in the process. This “cultural ideology [stresses to] women that they will not be desirable to […] men unless they resemble such a perfect body type” (Cortese 59). The more that women are exposed to such unrealistic and catastrophic messages, the more women feel insecure and thus continue to implement irrational behaviour and extremely unfit lifestyles in order to be suitable for taking on this so-called ‘ideal model of beauty’.
Included in such constructed standards is the notion of the sexual objectification of women, where women’s’ bodies are presented as objects to be used, abused and played with. Relaying back to the ad above, this model is being compared to and described as an object by the use of the word “tasty”; an adjective only associated with things like food. The precise choice of such wording from advertisers like Hunky Dorys puts women in a position where they are relentlessly degraded and demoralized. Since they are constantly being perceived as appealing, ‘tasty’ objects, their self-confidence, self-worth and views of their own physique will continue to be damaged and decline the more this association is voiced through ads.
These concepts of ideal beauty and objectification can have grave effects on a woman. With rising numbers of girls who have low body acceptance and self-esteem, it is not surprising that women will feel anxious and criticize their appearances (Cortese 61). From there, they develop this belief that they can profit from dieting, eating disorders and cosmetic surgeries in the hopes to improve their beauty attain those “cultural body standards” (Cortese 61). Such views of one’s self “is [also] hypothesized to be related to increased risk of psychological problems, including […] bipolar depression, and sexual dysfunction” (Cortese 61). It is therefore unquestionably apparent that because women are being diminished to only pretty figures, they have to deal with psychological, mental and physical issues that impede their ability to thrive in our society.
It is no wonder that the advertising industry has subjected us to incredibly preposterous content that has influenced our views on women and beauty. From body image to highly- sexualized personas, girls are being impacted by negative depictions of what a beautiful girl should be like. If I was given the chance to reconstruct the ad above, I would make sure that the idea would involve the product itself, and for that product to be the focus. I would replace the woman and all those stereotypes that she emphasizes with a group of friends enjoying the Hunky Dorys snack while watching a game of Gaelic Football. This simple change could begin a revolutionizing statement to the commercial industry that everything could become Hunky Dory if you eliminate such damaging ideas and instill a positive outlook on what it is to be a woman.
Cortese, Anthony. “Constructed Bodies, Deconstructing Ads: Sexism in Advertising.”
345-102-MQ: Gendered World Views, edited by Sarah Waurechen, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2006, pp. 57-89.
Pope, Conor. “Everything not hunky-dory as crisp advertisements accused of being sexist.” The
Irish Times, The Irish Times, 28 Apr. 2010, http://www.irishtimes.com/news/everything-not-hunky-dory-as-crisp-advertisements-accused-of-being-sexist-1.657968