Getting out of the kitchen and into the bedroom: The objectification of women in advertising through the use of design elements Exploring the perception of sexual imagery and objectification in advertising amongst graphic design undergraduates

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McDonald, Melissa
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Paul Bruski
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Art and Design

"Sex sells" is a common phrase popular in the world of advertising and marketing. More specifically, it is the sexual material plastering the pages of magazines in various forms of advertisements such as cologne or alcohol, selling not only the product itself, but also the women who inhabit it.

This thesis gives a brief introduction to the sexual history behind "the gaze"--the lustful stare man places on a woman, its impact on advertising, and how America's universities are not properly informing their undergraduates of the overtly sexual content. In many regards, painting during the Renaissance paved the way for the explicit use of the female figure and "the gaze," which has become an element of how we view her. Painters represented women as objects of desire to the viewer--presumably a man--and this concept is often used in advertisements and designs today. This could lead to a false interpretation of whom a woman should be and how she should act in our society, or it could also lead to body issues within our youth, especially in young girls.

Many commercials and print ads today have a misogynist theme, making the woman's role lesser than her male counterpart. Some men have a fear of losing power and status, and support the idea of keeping a woman in her traditional role, thus contributing to the perception that the most important aspect of a woman has become her sexuality (Jhally, 2007). What do these images demonstrate to America's youth? With each overly sexual picture plastered on billboards 45 feet in the air or hidden within magazines, the idealized image of women--according to Jean Kilbourne (1999), an author and speaker on the image of women in advertising--is becoming the norm, influencing how we, especially men, judge real women.

This thesis will investigate if undergraduate students in graphic design truly understand why they use stimulating content, or if they are mimicking what they see through promotional ad elements such as imagery, typography and color.

Wed Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2014