Its Time to Analyze What We See!
by Student98 on February 24, 2017 - 3:45pm
For as long as we can remember, society has taught us about gender. Through a variety of forms of media, we have learnt how men and women should look and behave. Advertisements play a major role in educating society on gender identity. Though this may seem harmless, we tend not to analyze the messages we are told in detail. What is it exactly that we are being taught to think in regards of gender identity? The denim jeans advertisement by Alexander Wang is as example that shows how advertisements corrupt society’s perception of gender identities.
Alexander Wang’s advertisement is embedded with various messages. The primary message is that women are sexual objects. Anthony Cortese reinforces this statement when he explains, “In advertising, women are primarily depicted as sexual objects or sexual agents,” (Cortese 57). The lack of clothes and drugged/drunk appearance dehumanizes the female model and insinuates that women are passive, submissive objects for sexual pleasure. It encourages both men and women to view women as weak, mindless, controllable, sexual prizes.
Certain of the advertisement’s messages directly target women. Alexander Wang, like many other companies, uses white (tan), skinny, beautiful female models to advertise its merchandise. By doing so, the advertisement teaches women that these models represent the perfect female body that all women are supposed to strive for. Anthony Cortese defines it best when he states, “Advertising images provide culturally sanctioned ideal types of masculinity and femininity,” (Cortese 57). Alexander Wang is teaching women to value physical beauty over inner beauty and is limiting physical beauty to looking like the model in the photo shopped advertisement image. Cortese takes it a step farther when he clarifies how this glorified perception of beauty “tells women that they will not be desirable to, or loved by, men unless they are physically perfect,” (Cortese 59).
Men are being directly educated as well. They are learning that all women are supposed to maintain a perfect physical appearance. The image also spreads messages of rape and educates men to take part in society’s rape culture. The woman in the photograph appears to be helpless (drugged or drunk), blacked-out and inferior and is propped in such a position with her pants crumpled to her feet (as if she as forcefully stripped) that emulates a post-rape scenario. This advertisement establishes the notion that rape is acceptable and consequently generates the idea that women are inferior to men.
We should be concerned about Alexander Wang’s advertisement. The messages being spread are corrupting the minds of our society. Supporting the sexual objectification of women, generating the notion of female inferiority and male dominance, encouraging masculine participation in rape culture and influencing women to value physical beauty among all: we must concern ourselves with these horrible messages as they are detrimental to our understanding of femininity.
The advertisement’s messages cause physical and emotional harm among the members of our society. For example, many women suffer from eating disorders (bulimic, anorectic, etc.) and/or experience depression because of society’s expectation of the perfect female appearance generated by advertisements like these. Cortese states how, “Advertising encourages…liposuction, anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, and cosmetic surgery and dentistry,” (Cortese 62).
We must abolish these types of advertisements if we want society’s corrupted views to change. The primary audience for Alexander Wang’s jeans advertisement is women, but the secondary audience is children. If young boys are exposed to these advertisements at young ages, it guarantees the survival of a future rape culture. We must concern ourselves with the advertisement’s messages in order to see the harm they cause and create change to abolish these messages from existence for future generations.
Adjustments must be made to the advertisement to eliminate the negative messages. The first adjustment would be to clothe the model and have her sit up straight/stand up to avoid any connotations of rape or helplessness. To eliminate the notion of being drugged, the woman should be smiling with her eyes wide open. Another adjustment would be to change the model for a woman that does not represent perfect physical beauty (average size, black/brown skin, undefined facial features/round face, etc.) to abolish the message that all women must have a perfect physical appearance.
Alexander Wang’s jean advertisement circulates many corrupting messages to the members of our society about gender identity. Through analyzing the messages expressed, the reasoning for concerning ourselves about the messages and the potential changes that could be made to the advertisement, we realize that our society is in a dangerous position with our understanding of different gender identities, but we are not helpless. If the proper changes are made to advertisements, as well as the rest of the media, we can help our current state and rid society of the horrifying messages that are currently defining gender identity harming society as a whole.
Alexander Wang Jeans. Digital image. Luxuo. Luxuo, 05 Dec. 2014. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.
Anthony Cortese,“Constructed Bodies, Deconstructing Ads: Sexism in Advertising,”
in Provocateur: Images and Women and Minorities in Advertising, Third
Edition (New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2008): 57-89