Author Archives: VinuLaknaSamaSamarasekera

Cultural Jam Assignment

Kellogg’s Special K – South Asian Advertisement 

Critical Analysis of the advertisement 

This was a popular cereal advertisement in South Asia. The ad immediately reinforces patriarchal gender norms and provokes sexism. 

The slogan “the look that makes him look again” and the man staring in the background are problematic for two reasons. It is apparent that the slogan holds power in sexualizing the woman’s body in the advertisement into an object that is now ready (was not ready or good enough before) for a man’s attention. This is a powerful hit on body shaming and reinforcing sexist views on women’s bodies. There is a level of psychological turmoil that such ads can unleash on women struggling with low-self esteem about their bodies. It puts large pressure on women to adhere to societal expectations of what a South Asian woman must look like.

The slogan also strips away the woman’s agency by promoting  the idea that the body transformation was undertaken to capture the attention of the heterosexual, hyper masculine man and not for herself.

I also took issue with the portrayal of the woman. Colourism in South Asian communities is a prominent topic. Fair skinned women are praised for their complexion and considered beautiful while dark skinned women are usually not. The use of a fair skinned woman definitely reinforces the issues of colourism in South Asia.

When I remembered this ad from my own experiences in South Asia, I could immediately see how such marketing tactics to promote consumerism could negatively affect how women navigate the creation of a healthy space for themselves. The creation of a healthy space must have some emphasis placed on food and diets however it must also have emphasis on mental health. Advertisements like this have the potential to affect someone’s psychological well being and thus affect how women in certain parts of the world attempt to navigate through sexist and patriarchal societies.

My jammed version

I wanted to focus on three things:

  • how adhering to sexist gender roles is no longer acceptable
  • giving back agency to a woman.
  • the issue of colourism

I replaced the picture of the slim woman in a red saree to that of a dark skinned girl wearing kick boxing gloves. The dark skinned girl was chosen to highlight issues of colourism that was present in the previous version of the poster.

With the boxing gloves and the strong stance I wanted  emphasize that women are not ready to adhere to gender stereotypes and are ready to kick them out. I also thought the powerful stance and the look of the woman emphasizes how she reoccupies her space and creates her own agency.

I did not include a full body picture of the woman. I wanted to address issues of body shaming from the previous picture. Beautiful and sexy was implied to be for someone who was slim and tall. I wanted take attention away from the full body picture and leave the interpretation of the words beautiful and sexy up to the audience – an attempt at emphasizing any body is beautiful in its own way. A healthy body has to do with a nutritional diet and a healthy mind not a reassurance from a man.

I left the slogan and the picture of the surprised looking man in the background because I thought it was fitting that he is now surprised and looking at her in disbelief for demonstrating her own agency and independence compared to the notion of lust and desire which was implied in the previous version.

This ad could have focused more on emphasizing the health benefits of the cereal as opposed to trying to paint a picture of the perfect South Asian body desired by husbands and partners.