You Should Be Reading: Gender Stereotypes in Fashion Advertising

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Gender stereotyping is alive and well in advertising, especially in the world of fashion. The three recently published articles below take a critical look at how this stereotyping plays out across gender, culture, and nationality. Enjoy! 

1. Lambiase, J., Reichert, T., Adkins, M., & LaTour, M. S. (2012). Gender and media literacy: Women and men try on responses to objectification in fashion advertising. In C. C. Otnes & L. T. Zayer (Eds.), Gender, culture, and consumer behavior (pp. 139-159).

In this essay, part of a collection on gender and consumer behavior, the authors used simple codes, along with rhetorical and theme analyses, to examine 145 open-ended responses to advertisements using sexually oriented appeals. Responses from a control group were compared and contrasted to responses from participants in a treatment group, which viewed a media literacy video before considering the advertisements. Working along with the participants to create meaning, this research charts the ways in which women and men evaluate these ads and whether they identify ads as sexist. In addition, evidence of sexual thoughts and evaluation of those thoughts by female and male participants are considered and coded, to determine the range of thoughts triggered by viewing sexually oriented advertisements, along with participants’ feelings about those thoughts. The following research questions were addressed: 1) When male and female consumers respond to advertising that utilizes sexually oriented appeals, what broad evidence of media literacy may be discerned? 2) Does exposure to a media literacy video increase the chances that participants will use vocabulary and evaluations that indicate an understanding or interpretation of objectification and sexism? 3) When participants recognize sexual thoughts produced by viewing the advertisements, in what ways do they describe, interpret, and evaluate these thoughts? Are there connections between these thoughts and statements about their own media literacy? 4) Do participants make connections between the texts they are analyzing and the contexts in which these advertisements are produced? — Adapted from the Introduction

2. Stamps, J. F., & Golombisky, K. (2013). Woman as product stand-in: Branding straight metrosexuality in men’s magazine fashion advertising. Journal of Research on Women and Gender, 6, 1-29. 

BONUS: Access this article online for FREE! 

This visual rhetorical analysis evaluates sexualized representations of women in fashion advertisements in men’s magazines. At a time when the metrosexual consumer may be gay or straight, the five ads scrutinized here suggest that a sexually aroused woman is required to signify a man’s masculinity as heterosexual. This is not advertising promising sex with a beautiful woman as a reward for consumption. Rather, this sexist and homophobic rhetoric sells masculinity as mastery of a branded leisure lifestyle outfitted with suitable products as accessories, and for hetero masculinity, the accessory is a woman who wants sexual but not emotional intimacy. In the narratives of these ads, women become stand-ins for the advertised products. This logic genders brand as masculine and product as feminine, and it assigns men ownership of women. — Full Article Abstract

3. Vasquez, J. L., & Choi, J. (2013). Exploring gender stereotypes in American and Mexican magazine advertisements. Journalism and Mass Communication, 3(3), 154-168.

BONUS: Access this article online for FREE!

This study analyzed gender stereotypes in American and Mexican magazine advertisements. The researchers conducted a content analysis of four major fashion magazines (i.e., VogueCosmopolitanPeople en Español, and Vanidades), using KANG’s (1997) scales of gender behaviors inspired by Goffman’s (1979) gender studies. The researcher obtained findings by averaging the overall sum of each country’s stereotypes by comparing them for any similarities or disparities. The results suggest a similar amount of gender stereotypes across both countries, specifically in the gender categories of “feminine touch”, “licensed withdrawal”, and “body display”. Overall, findings from this study provide further implications for future researchers and marketers. Future researchers should further analyze gender behavior by conducting a longitudinal study of the various types of gender stereotypes at an international level. Additional implications and future research ideas are discussed throughout this research. — Full Article Abstract 


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