What appeals best to women, what is considered feminine and what is masculine, how can we manipulate our consumer’s insecurities for profit? These are some of the questions that marketing teams answer by perpetuating sexist gender stereotypes and in the world we live in, everything is an advertisement. When companies use gender roles as a pivotal aspect of their marketing, it has a number of negative effects on society. Companies often use gender roles to create and capitalize off of insecurities, especially in women. This has created a society where even young girls feel the societal pressure to look perfect and appeal to certain standards, and as a result worsens gender equality.
One of the biggest problems with companies emphasizing gender roles in their advertising is that it has created unrealistic and constantly evolving beauty standards, especially for women. Throughout human history, the ideal for what a woman should look like has continuously changed with time. For example, from the 1920s-50s, a slim physique was preferred. Later in the 70s, eating disorders such as anorexia were being romanticized. However now, the beauty standard is drastically different and tends to celebrate curves and other features on women. Companies have used social media and marketing strategies to double down on this natural human trend to change beauty standards with time.
When companies use problematic gender stereotypes in their marketing, the effects are drastic and affect far more people than we realize. For young girls in particular, there is a constant narrative being fed to them that they must be pretty but not too pretty, confident but not too confident, and the list goes on. This leads to young girls believing that all they have to offer to the world is a pretty face, and that physical appearance is a measure of their worth. When women grow up believing that beauty comes before all, they are less likely to focus on their own personal ambitions and as a result don’t end up reaching their full potential.
In a world that puts an achievable pressure on women to look and be perfect, we need to lift each other up and be conscious of the gender stereotypes that have been advertised to us. One thing that we can do in order to combat the problems caused by advertising is to simply be comfortable and confident in our own skin. We need to embrace the fact that it is natural to not have flawless skin, zero body hair, perfectly white teeth, etc.. Women deserve to feel bold, confident, ambitious, and beautiful in our own skin.
Altman, Mara. “Yes, Marketing Is Still Sexist.” The New York Times, 26 August 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/2021/08/26/us/marketing-industry-sexism-brandsplaining.html
Accessed 19 August 2023.
Howard, Jacqueline. “How the 'ideal' woman's body shape has changed throughout history.” CNN, 7 March 2018, https://www.cnn.com/2018/03/07/health/body-image-history-of-beauty-explainer-intl/index.html
. Accessed 19 August 2023.