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In this advertisement for American Apparel, a young woman wears only panties, an undershirt, and tall socks. She smuttily lies on her messy bed while blowing a pink bubblegum, which directs our eyes to the big bold word “Bubblicious”. This ad’s slogan further evokes a provocative sensation, suggesting the viewers that the young woman is erotically posing to sexually elicit men who finds her as sweet as bubblegums.
This advertisement reminds me of the male gaze since it attempts to persuade female consumers that they need to expose their bodies and be coquettish in order to be favoured by men. In other words, American Apparel is trying to convince women that they have to dress themselves in the brand’s petite sexy outfits to be loved by their boyfriends, husbands or any men they wish to prove their values to. Sadly, many female consumers do not realize that women are devalued in such fashion ads as the female body is objectified as a sex toy to please men instead of a human being to be respected.
Today, the depiction of female body is constantly sexualized in mass media. This phenomenon gradually engenders gender stereotypes that project false ideals and objectify the female body, thus creating sexism and causing female viewers to develop false self-identities. Media sells ideas to people. It persuades people to believe in its content. Unfortunately, the mass media in our generation that is comprised of stereotypical images may inform wrong projection upon sexuality and identity. Therefore, for my Culture Jam Assignment I want to reconstruct this advertisement for American Apparel and explicitly expose its indirect sexist message in order to warn the female consumers that they are deliberately demeaned in mass media and thus need to be aware of examining others’ and their own identities or values based on biased depictions in mass media.
My culture jam project aims to alert viewers that many advertisers, in an effort to attract consumers and impose their perspectives or attitudes on the public, may easily suggest misleading messages about female identity, which are physically and emotionally detrimental to the well-being of female consumers. However, these misleading messages in media have become guidances that direct human beings in shaping their identities. Consequently, human beings who neglect the damaging effects on their physical and psychological health for complying with media messages, ceaselessly modify their personas and physical features to acquire self-esteem from reaching the desired self-identities that are, by media’s definition, more socially accepted and celebrated.
As a result, in my reconstructed advertisement of American Apparel, the model’s face is blurred with mosaic to stress the fact that this young woman has lost her identity as she utilizes her body as a tool to entice and entertain men. Clearly, she conveys the impression that any man can take advantage of her since she presents herself as a pleasing toy that does not require the respect or dignity a human being needs. In other words, this jammed version of the ad emphasizes that our identities will also be taken away and mistreated if we also give up our rights as humans and try to be like her, a living sexualized object, to be attractive. In fact, women who allure men with nudity or sex will not truly be appreciated by men since their body will only evoke men’s sexual desires but not love.
The message I’m trying to deliver to the viewers about women losing their identity as their bodies are objectified and devalued in advertisements or mass media is further accentuated by the top left clipart of a careless smoking man followed by “__________ is”, suggesting that men are, in fact, indifferent to the sexualized women; although the sexy young woman is perhaps “bubblelicious” in men’s eyes, all she has actually achieved is to arouse men’s dirtiest desires. Ergo, men shed no attention to her identity and perceive her as a “plaything” that they can dally with.
In conclusion, I wish to express that the sexualized images of women in advertisements establish sexism and male chauvinism. I hope that such a direct humiliation of the female body I accentuated in the ad for American Apparel can incite more reflection on the effects of female stereotypes represented in media.