Women Stereotyped Through Advertising

We have all noticed in one way or another that women have been portrayed through advertising in a somewhat degrading or stereotypical manner. Avoiding gender stereotypes can be hard in the world of advertising since advertisements are used to target specific audiences. Stereotypes about women through advertising have come a long way throughout the decades, however, there are still some instances where it exists today.

A negative stereotype displayed through advertising in the past portrays women as sex symbols who are dependent and incompetent. In the 1950’s advertisements were mostly targeted toward men because women were portrayed as housewives who didn’t make any purchase decisions. Hoover Vacuums came out with an extremely sexist ad in the 1950s that exemplified this stereotype. This print ad was addressed directly to husbands proving why they should buy their wives this vacuum for Christmas with a note emphasizing her care for the home. Although advertisements have been evolving out of this stereotypical manner through the decades, sexism towards women through advertising still exists even today.

Recent statistics have shown that women are now responsible for 85% of all major consumer purchases. This includes major purchases such as cars. In AdWeek’s article about the 10 most sexist ads of 2013, TrueCar’s ad came in at number six. This used-car pricing service had a commercial promoting their brand in a way that helps women car shop without having a man to help. This commercial implied that women are uneducated and ignorant when it comes to shopping at dealerships due to the idea that men are primarily the ones who make car buying decisions. Although this ad was attempting to come across as “pro-women,” it portrayed outdated and incorrect stereotypes about women.

Even though women have been degraded and stereotyped in a negative manner throughout advertising in the past and even in some instances today, many brands are doing a good job at changing this pattern in advertising. Always’ recent #LikeAGirl advertising campaign is a good example of using advertising to change people’s negative, stereotypical view of women. Most girls feel that society limits them and this commercial attempts to teach young girls to keep their confidence high. It teaches them to ignore stereotypical limitations that society places on women so that they can achieve greatness and become unstoppable.


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