After creating a collage in class that represented the ideal image of men as it is constructed by the media, I chose to analyze the way in which both genders are objectified in images of masculinity and femininity. In order to determine how and why “sex sells”, I set out to find the most blatantly sexual advertisements that I possibly could. Most of the advertisements did little to show the benefit of the actual product and simply assumed that by creating this illusion of sexuality the product would sell itself. This Abercrombie and Fitch mentality of selling an ideology rather than selling the actual product has proved to be a successful marketing technique.
Although men and women are both objectified in advertisements, the way in which the two genders are presented vary significantly. The ads of men always show them with a very detached look, as if to say, “I’m doing my part by being attractive, so women should flock to me”. It was figured out long ago that “with the right demographic, a male-identified magazine could arouse widespread interest among national advertisers” (Breazeale 232). However, it was then the task of advertisers to create images of males who men wanted to be and females who men wanted to be with. Contrasting the advertisements of the beautiful yet disinterested men were a myriad of ads showing females who were practically jumping out of the page to have sex with the reader. The expressions on the faces of many of these females seemed to scream out, “I want you now!” Unfortunately, it is these types of depictions that teach girls that “the pretty girl who knows how to play the game wins the prize” (Higginbotham 93). By selling sex, the message that the public interprets is that sexiness is more important than anything else, and without it, you’re doomed for failure. “Beauty is a currency system…determined by politics” (Wolf 121). If you do not conform to the accepted view of beauty that society has created, you are immediately put at a disadvantage in the world. The idea that sex sells may be clichéd, but in no way does that mean that it isn’t true. Now more than ever, sex is used as a selling point for all kinds of products, and even the people who are smart enough to understand that they are being targeted are susceptible to its forces.
Breazeale, Kenon. In Spite of Women: Esquire Magazine and the Construction of the Male Consumer. (1994): 232.
Higginbotham, Anastasia. Teen Mags: How to Get a Guy, Drop 20 pounds, and Lose Your Self-Esteem. (1996): 93.
Wolf, Naomi. The Beauty Myth. (1991): 121.