Analysing Stereotypes In Advertisements

During the past few English classes, we have been discussing about the definition of stereotypes, and how they are portrayed in the ‘media’ such as magazine advertisements, posters, and T.V commercials. Last week, we were assigned to look for advertisements that grossly portrayed stereotypes of people, and from the few of the posters that I found on the internet, the following poster from a renown beauty cosmetic franchise, ‘Dove’, gave me a really strong impression because it was the most intense, as it strongly depicted racial stereotypes.

(Image Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1390312/Soap-giant-Dove-accused-racism-body-wash-advert.html)

The release date of this advertisement is undefined however, daily mail’s article criticizing this ad was published in May of 2011. As obvious, this poster advertises a series of body wash, which its target seems to be female of young age, teenagers to women in the mid 30s according to the physical appearance of the models. It seems to be another beauty advertisement however, racism is grossly portrayed.

As you may see, in the background of the three women are two big photos that show the before and after of an enlarged photo of the surface of a skin. Its own purpose for showing a before and an after is to show the effectiveness of cleaning the pores of skin by using this product. However, as seen, there are three women of different skin tone, hair colour, and body style, in front of the images.

 First of all, the ‘dark’ skinned women, who is slightly round and slump in terms of body shape stands at the very left position. The next person to the right is tan and pale, and a slightly slimmer than the woman at the very left. The third woman at the very right has a really light skin color, and has the most slimmest body style of them all. Because of the ‘before’ image on the left and the ‘after’ image on the right, it makes it seem as if the first dark-toned woman depicts the before and the light-toned woman is depicting the after. This gives an impression to the audience such that a lighter skin colour is often perceived as the definition of ‘beauty’ by the social and on the contrast, a darker skin colour is not so accepted. This poster may also convey a message that, by using this product, a person’s skin colour will get lighter, and from my point of view, this could mean that the ‘darkness’ from a dark skinned people is being raised as something dirty (for example mud or dirt) that could be washed, and it may portray that having dark skin is ‘dirty’. Additionally, the poster also challenges racial stereotypes by their body style. As mentioned in the beginning, the dark-toned woman has a slightly round body style as where the light-toned woman is slim even though body style of each person does not depend much on their race.

Secondly, the phrase endorsed at the bottom of the media as seen, ‘Visibly more beautiful skin from the most unexpected of places-your shower’ denotes as if ‘more’ beautiful skin means having a lighter-tone of skin. Here, I also think that the usage of the word ‘visible’ creates a great impact to the sentence because it is clearly pointing that beauty is referred to one’s physical appearance.

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