Thursday, May 21, 2009

Blog Post 2- "Sex Sells”- Characterizing Gender With The Use of Advertisements

Marcelo Rivera

Gender and Pop Culture

Dr. Jesse Gamble

May 21, 2009

"Sex Sells”- Characterizing Gender With The Use of Advertisements

Advertisements are nowadays found in every place we lay our eyes upon even if we do not realize it. Marketers must constantly reinvent themselves and stay on top of the newest trends that will attract their potential customers attention. Sex has been utilized in advertisements as a mechanism to sell products by creating and defining what the ideal male and female should look like.  By establishing a definition of what the typical “female” would look like (for example in the collage you see mostly females who are young and in particularly good overall physical condition with make up on) advertisements are able to revolve their product around the idea that by purchasing their products this ideal look can be reached.  Advertisements have realized that “sex sells”, their profit margin is evidence to that. By creating an image of what a beautiful and sexy female should look like in our society, advertisements have illustrated and set the bar for that gender.

Popular magazines such as Esquire and Maxim have their covers graced by model like celebrities who help the magazine lure in potential costumer with the use of their image of sexuality. They use what Sut Jhally describes as the image system to sell their product. Sut Jhally states, “In the image-system as a whole, happiness lies at the end of a purchase” (252). Human satisfaction is easily disrupted with the use of ads. Everyday, constantly, there are new products being created that are better then its predecessor.  The spread of image-based influence can be seen in ads for Giorgio Armani’s line of underwear. David Beckham who is well known around the world has become one of the main models for the Armani underwear line. They use his sexuality to attract costumers. Many of the times they have him posing with a female model in a very risqué and sensual manner, she is also posing in her lingerie. They are both laying in a bed implying an indirect feeling to the potential customer that they can and will be able to do the same by using that product, the satisfaction possible by purchasing this product.

Women are fed the interpretations of the advertisements idea of what a beautiful female is suppose to look like and began to believe that in order to look beautiful they must attempt to look like one of the models in an advertisement. We as a society must be able to distinguish that the advertisements use this misconception of beauty to earn profits and that beauty is no defined by being skinny, wearing make up, dressing well, or getting all the guys/girls. This is just a one sided view of what beauty actually is, it creates a false impression that being beautiful is directly correlated with sexuality. As Naomi Wolf states, “The beauty myth tells a story: The quality called beauty objectively and universally exists. Women must want to embody it and men must want to possess women who embody it” (121). Women who do not fall into the criteria of beauty that an advertisement or many popular magazines have perpetuated will feel insecure (their ability to look good enough to obtain a man) and this can lead them to try drastic measures to achieve that kind of beauty (bulimic in order to lose weight, for example).


Work Cited Page


Jhally, Sut. Image-Based Culture Advertising and Popular Culture. 1. Washington: Washington Times Corporation, 1900. Print.

Wolf, Naomi. Beauty Myth. 1. New York: Anchor, 1992. Print.


Victoria and David Beckham


Carmen Electra


David Beckham


Dutch Maxim


Megan Fox – Maxim


Keeley FHM


Megan Fox GQ


Scarlett Johansen




Keyshia Cole




Stacey Dash


1 comment:

  1. Nice job here Marcelo-
    The collage is really quite visually appealing (your layout of the covers is well-done).

    The writeup works too. My only question after reading the post is how does the idealized femininity operate in the context of:
    1. using sex to sell when the femininity of women is idealized to sell products to men (seems like a place for additional analysis_
    2. the unattainable (i.e. photoshop's involvement with the production of such images) nature of the ideal and the inherent contradiction between what is shown and what is expected of women when it's women objectified to sell a product

    Overall, great job!