Your paper should be roughly 750-1,000 words – three typed double-spaced pages (12 point font).
Jean Kilbourne (Still Killing Us Softly) argues that:
- Women’s bodies are turned into objects in order to sell products,
- Women’s bodies are dismembered in order to sell products; just one part of the body is used to sell products,
- Women are portrayed in advertisements in ways that subtly trivialize women’s power; i.e., there are many images in advertising that silence women – images that show women with their hands over their mouths and other visuals, as well as copy, that strip women of their voices
- The body language of young women and girls in advertising is usually passive and vulnerable. Conversely, the body language of men and boys is usually powerful, active and aggressive.
- In recent years, advertisements have increasingly portrayed young girls and teenagers as sexual objects; teen models are often shown in seductive poses that draw attention to their bodies.
Examine the advertisements in three popular magazines (InStyle, Cosmopolitan, Mademoiselle, Elle, Marie Claire, RedBook, Jane, Seventeen, Shape, SELF, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Maxim, etc.).
For each magazine, report the percentage of ads in which women are portrayed in the categories Kilbourne uses. Are there differences among the magazines you have chosen? How do you interpret your results? What effects, if any, do you think these portrayals of women have on their self-image and the way that they are perceived by others? What factors – i.e., age, sex, social class, cultural background – might mediate (amplify and/or dampen) the perception and impact of these messages?