This weekend, as previously mentioned, I got started on my video documentary. I felt that the easiest way to start would be to ask a woman how she felt her gender is portrayed by the marketing and media people. Seeing as there are very few females I know who will talk to me for long periods of time, I started by talking to my girlfriend. She had a ton to say, and I recorded the whole conversation however, she requested that the conversation not be put on the internet, so I will not be posting it, even though I thought it was pretty interesting.
One of the first things my girlfriend said was that it wouldn’t be fair if just men were used in ads today. I felt that was a very simple statement and yet a very intelligent one. I would have not ever in a million years thought about that. Advertisements and commercials have been around me my entire life, they have always had both men and women in them, I could never imagine a world without both male and female actors/models in ads. My girlfriend brought this up, and then moved on to mention how Tommy Hilfiger has been accused of, and I think admitted to, being a racist. Tommy only uses white models in his ads.
Obviously sexism and racism are a little different, but she still had a point. Using only men in ads and using only whites in ads are very similar. I mean imagine a world where the ads on TV were directed towards men, it would kind of suck wouldn’t it? Especially if you’re not a man. I think that was her point, and it was a very good one at that.
Our conversation moved away a bit and more into groups of ads. She claimed that there are certain groups of advertisers, or certain products that get advertised, that portray woman in the wrong light. One of her main examples was the fashion industry, which did not come as any surprise to me at all. The fashion industry shows perfectly crafted and stunningly beautiful women in their ads. Yet this perfection is literally impossible for anyone to achieve, the amount of unnatural work that goes into ads and commercials makes it impossible for anyone to look like a model, without using photoshop at least.
We then moved onto other industries, including beer and alcohol and house hold cleaning products, and then again ended up back at fashion. It was a circular conversation. When asked about women and power and things of that nature, my girlfriend seemed to think that all women want to be sexy, or attractive, it is just the way we as society define what is deemed attractive and sexy that is the problem.
We as a society have created this desire to be thin and have perfect skin and breasts and basically an unachievable perfect body is the essence of being sexy. We need to change this, and the first place to start would be advertising.
We looked at a few other things, and we even attempted to figure out what a woman needs to be powerful in western society. I will talk about that a little later, but the main point I arrived at from talking to my girlfriend, and the one I found most interesting was about the effects of negative press versus positive advertising. What I mean is that my girlfriend, when she found out about Tommy Hilfiger being a racist stopped wearing his clothing. This is something that she obviously deserves some recognition for because Tommy is a pretty popular brand, one that she had a few (probably expensive) articles of clothing from. Tommy obviously did not advertise the fact that he is a racist, it was something that just leaked out. As a matter of fact, I’m sure if Tommy had had any control over it, he probably would have preferred that the world not find out about his supremest feelings. However, I then brought up the Dove campaign for beauty. This was something my girlfriend had obviously seen and heard about, and yet she used Ivory soap. I found this a little strange. The fact that the negative media surrounding one thing could cause someone to stop wearing certain popular and expansive clothing, and yet the positive advertising around a two dollar bar of soap, was not enough to get someone like my girlfriend (someone who clearly cares about her world and how she effects it) to change. I just would have thought that if one could give up wearing a one hundred dollar sweater, switching to a two dollar bar of soap would be easy. I guess I was wrong…
Anyways for now that’s the end. I’m going to end with a video. Here you go… The frog bit is really the only bit you need to see