why is it that every time I turn on the TV I am inundated with images of how I, as a woman, should be? The most disturbing one for me today was a L’Oreal ad for a product that is supposed to fill in fine lines and wrinkles with silicone. The lovely Claudia Schiffer stars. After “applying” the product to her eye area, a young blond boy-child comes running into the room. She says, “My lines are filled, and my life is fulfilled!” and embraces the boy. There’s a double-whammy of a message: be pretty, and have babies.
Then of course there are the millions of cleaning supply ads featuring women scrubbing and spraying and sweeping and dusting and laundering. And the baby ads featuring women changing diapers and feeding babies and bathing babies. And the ads for food products, featuring women cooking and baking and icing cakes and pouring juice. And, the diet ads, featuring women who are newly thin prancing in bikinis and miniskirts. And the cosmetic ads featuring perfect skin and eyelashes and plump lips. Even the ads hoping to sell products to men tell women how they should be – and consequently, how men should want and expect women to be. The message here for women is, if you aren’t this way, men won’t like you.
Never mind the under-representation of people of colour. What message does that send? only white women need to worry about filling these expectations? Or is this simply another slap in the face, another way to say, hey, all you people with vaginas are basically the same, so extrapolate from the white standard? Don’t these companies want dollars from people of colour? I find this confusing.
So, what to do about this? I do my best to buy products that don’t advertise in this offensive way. And, of course, that means knowing a little bit about parent companies and subsidieries. I’ve been doing this for years in order to avoid buying products that are tested on animals. But, I always think, I am just one consumer. Can I really make an impact?
Well, I think the answer is YES. I encourage you all to be mindful about what your dollars are buying, AND what those dollars subsequently pay for in the form of advertising. Stop buying products that contribute to the oppression of women through their advertisements.