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Because Society Says So

This week’s Media Monday post comes to us from Madilyn Cook. Thank you, Madilyn! If you are interested in writing for our Media Monday series, please contact Julia at julia.birdsall@emilyprogramfoundation.org

Budweiser

“Act like a lady” and “Man up” are two common phrases American society is used to hearing. When a little girl is misbehaving it is not unusual for her to be told to “sit down and act like a lady”. When a young boy gets hurt while playing at recess often times when he goes to tell a parent they will just say, “You’ll be fine, man up”. The question is, what do those phrases really mean? In everyday advertisements, we see gender roles portrayed. Masculine folks are typically shown as strong and powerful figures, and feminine people are unfortunately shown as sex objects in many cases.

In this advertisement for Budweiser, a young model is basically transformed to become part of the beer bottle they are selling. The model is blended in with the product, losing their sense of humanity and turned into an object to sell the product. When you look at the model’s face, you can hardly see any emotion in their eyes. Our society today categorizes feminine people by how they look rather that what they can do. This model is advertising by using simply “good looks” that conform to societal standards.

In this specific ad, the bottle itself says, “King of Beers,” suggesting that being the “king” of something gives you the most power. When they are advertising the king status they are still using a feminine presenting person to sell their product.  Perhaps they are implying that if you drink this beer, you will become a “king” and will have power over or possession of a person who looks like the model in their advertisement.

The swimsuit the model is wearing says, “all natural”. Now, they are talking about the beer of course. But, we have to wonder, is the model really “all natural”? This image has clearly been digitally altered.When children see advertisements of the showcasing this idea of “perfection”, they can decide that they want do anything to be able to look like that; when in reality most of the time the models themselves don’t even look like these photos.  When my mom was growing up, she didn’t have to worry about what filter she used on her Instagram post, or how many likes she would get on the selfie she just posted on Facebook. In today’s children and young adults sharing images on social media can influence why we want to look a certain way.

Over all as a culture, the ads that we see everywhere are used to try to persuade us to feel a certain way. When analyzing these messages, though, we begin to ask ourselves if what we’ve been taught all along is actually accurate. The question becomes, “Have I shaped my beliefs about how people, including myself, should be? Or has society done it for me?”

 

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