Sexualized Ads: Where Are We Headed?

At the SPARK Summit last week, I attended a workshop entitled “Hard-Core Media Literacy” where we analyzed media (mainly advertisements) and broke down what the advertisers wanted us to purchase, wanted us to think and feel, and what we thought and felt while viewing them. One advertisement that particularly stood out to me was a Southpole clothing ad which completely objectifies and sexualizes women.

In this ad (above left), the male that is featured is facing outward and looking directly into the camera, which makes him the main focus as as the dominant person in the image. He has his hand around the girl in a way that suggests that he owns her and she’s simply there as his accessory. The woman in this ad is slightly facing the man and has her arm draped over him in a way that immediately suggests that she needs him but also shows that she’s content with being an object for him. Not to mention, the position of her body and the clothing she’s wearing screams sexualization. The sad part about this, for me, is not only that these ads are targeting teens but that these ads are common.

Similar brands such as Ecko Red and Rocawear (above middle and right) rely on these same messages when targeting teens and are constantly portraying the ‘dominant male’ and ‘sexualized women/object’ in their advertisements. I find it so disturbing that ad after ad after ad continues to show us this same type of man, same type of woman, and I feel that subconciously we are becoming these people that the media is surrounding us with.

When I see these images, the first thing that comes to mind is “girls who look at at least one weight-loss article at a young age are five times more likely to try weight-loss, moderate or extreme, as teens”; this was a fact that Andrea Quijada, the Executive Director of the Media Literacy Project shared with our feminism class. If that is true, then what about girls who look at sexualized images at a young age? Are they becoming sexualized teens and adults because of being constantly exposed to these portrayals and messages? If so, that is where we’re all headed.

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