Using women’s sexuality in advertising Essay

Custom Student Mr. Teacher ENG 1001-04 30 October 2016

Using women’s sexuality in advertising

According to Wilson key, advertisers spend $20 billion annually. As we flip through entertainment magazines every day, we see most of the ads use women’s sexuality to sell products. These magazines so shamelessly exploit and objectify women’s bodies. Magazines have an unrealistic and sexist standard for how women should look. The images in these magazines show women as sex objects only, and not as intelligent human beings.” In fact, some have suggested that the increased emphasis in advertising on sexuality and sexual availability has reached what earlier would have been considered pornography (Mackey and Covell, 575). tall, thin, and gorgeous blonde model. She has a sexy look in her eyes with glossy lips and wears a long army dress. The model’s thighs are shown, and only few parts of her body are covered with that long dress.

After looking at the ad for a moment, I realized that the ad is for the lipstick not for the girl. Advertisers have many different tactics to get consumers’ attention to their products, but one tactic that is most popular and effective is using women’s sexuality in advertising. Advertisers show women as scantily clad, sexy, and beautiful women who are willing to drape themselves over any product the advertisers offer. An ad for hair color shows two beautiful thin white girls standing together, completely naked, except for the black skirt they are both standing in. Their arms cover their breasts, and they are laughing happily. Another ad shows a woman almost half naked climbing across what is supposed to be the galaxy (for a diamond company). Most of us know that females are more likely than males to be portrayed as sex objects in ads and fashion spread pages. Women’s sexuality is used to sell things completely unrelated to sex. “Increasingly, women’s presence in advertisements has no substantial relation to the product: increasingly, the women’s role is to be sexy and alluring” (Mackey and Covell, 574).

For example, an ad for soap shows a perfect woman with a sexual looks on her face getting out of the shower. Her body and hair are perfect and a caption saying “Seduce your senses, silken your skin. It’s a sensual experience like never before.” In this ad the message is clear. If you use this kind of soap, you will look more like this model. It’s obvious that there’s no relation whatsoever between the ad scheme and the product. Soap has nothing to do with beauty or sex. The advertisers simply chose a sexy and good looking woman to sell their soap. Other examples of using women’s sexuality to advertise things not related to sex, an ad for Evian bottled water showing a woman in an image of a mermaid with her mouth wide open around the bottle. Another ad for water shows a woman lying on a fluffy cloud. She has angel wings and holds a bottle of Evian water. She’s naked, and her body is only covered with the cloud. What does sexuality have to do with bottled water? These women are being used by advertisers in order to sell products. By using these effective methods of selling products, advertisers target an audience and try to appeal to their senses and feelings.

Advertisements emphasize thinness as a standard for female beauty, and the bodies idealized in the media are frequently atypical of normal, healthy women. 27% of the girls felt that the media pressures them to have a perfect body. The dissatisfaction with one’s body is a major cause of eating disorders, which have increased through the years as women’s ideal body weight as it is portrayed in the media, has decreased. The Harvard Eating Disorder Center reports that 80% of women wake up each morning feeling depressed about their appearance (Moore). Advertisers target teen girls most of the time when advertising their products because teen girls are constantly trying to better their appearance, by losing weight, and trying new makeup and hair products. Advertisers use the ideal female body and face to sell their products. Advertisers use many tactics when advertising directly at teenagers.

Research approved that teenagers are particularly affected by these kinds of ads because they get much of their information from magazines. For example, Mona a mother of two teenager girls, her daughters are affected by the images they see in magazines ads. They always want to improve their appearance by dieting and using any products they see in ads. Their mother said magazines reflect images of thinness and beauty, and link them to other symbols of happiness, love and success for females. She said her daughters “always think they are not good enough the way they are, they have to use the products they see.

In ads every woman has perfect hair, perfect breasts, and perfect arms. These are the women that create the negative, unhealthy, unsafe images in young girls’ minds. Girls are struggling to measure up to the perfect images they see which might create various problems such as eating disorders (Mona). Many people take it in stride, not stopping to notice or question the degrading way women are being portrayed. For example, Mona’s daughter Lyla, 16 years old, said “I don’t think women being exploited at all. You have to understand it’s just entertainment and advertisements. Why make a fuss about it”. This is exactly what the advertisers want.

Research also approved that the images of women in ads have an impact on attitudes toward women. “There’s much evidence to suggest that exposure to gender-role stereotyping, common in advertisements, is associated with more gender-typed views of the world” ( Mackey and Covell, 574). These images in ads are associated with heightened aggressive attitudes toward women. Recent research finding demonstrate the power of ad portrayals of women in influencing gender-role attitudes. For example, a research done by Lanis and Covell in 1995 found that males who were shown magazine ads in which women were portrayed as sex objects, compared to males shown progressive role images of women in ads, were significantly more accepting of rape myths, gender role stereotyping, interpersonal violence. Toward women and held more adversarial sexual beliefs (Mackey and Covell, 575).

Even when men are introduced in ads with women, the women are submissive, sexual, and happy. For example, an ad shows a woman smiling while having perfume sprayed down her cleavage by a man. Other ads reinforce violence by men against women. For instance, in one of the fashion magazines, an angry man is showing grabbing and shaking his woman and she’s pushing against him, struggling to get away. Another ad shows a woman being pushed by a man from the top of a tall building. These ads suggest that men can act violently against women wherever they want, and women should be submissive and remain happy with them. “It’s possible that continuous exposure to ads in which women are shown as objects for sexual gratification may reinforce male attitudes supportive of sexual aggression and opposed to women’s efforts to equality” ( Mackey and Covell, 576).

“No body reads advertising. People read what interests them: and sometimes it’s an ad” (Gossage, 1). In most ads we see, women’s sexuality is being used and exploited to sell products. Advertisers show the existence of women on earth is only to look beautiful and satisfy men. Advertisers should know that women are worth more than being sex objects and tools to sell products. They need to value women not for the looks, but for “who they are”. Advertisers will continue to use women as long as they are benefiting financially. To stop using women as sex object from appearing in advertisements, we must take a stand and not allow ourselves to buy products that have sexually images of women. We need to be aware and question the images we see in ads.

Works cited
Wilson, key. Subliminal Seduction. Ad Media’s Manipulation of a Not So Innocent America. New Jersey: 1972 Howard, Gossage. Is There Any Hope for Advertising?. Ed. Kim Rotzoll, Jarlath Graham, and Barrows Mussey. University of Illinois press: 1986 Natalie j. MacKay and Katherine Covell. “The Impact of Women in Advertisements on Attitudes Toward Women.” Sex Roles. Volume 36, Numbers 9-10 May 1997: 573 – 583


Roy, Fox F. warning advertising may be hazardous to your health: ads pose a threat to physical, emotional, social, and cultural well being-mass media-statistical data included author in not known. Usa today (society for advertisement of education), nov,2001 by <

Christina, Baker N. “A Content Analysis of Black and White-Oriented Women’s and Men’s Magazines”. Images of Women’s Sexuality in Advertisements: Jan,2005 <>.

Jessica, Moore. “The Social Cost of Commercial Culture.” Women and Advertising. March, 2, 2002 <>.
Mona Abraham and Lyla Abraham. Personal Interview. Aug.2005

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