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Women's Bodies Throughout Advertising. Essay

1177 words - 5 pages

Each of us is born male or female, but not masculine or feminine. Our bodies are transformed into recognizably masculine or feminine bodies through various cultural disciplines and practices. If both women and men are culturally disciplined, how does patriarchal domination incorporate itself into our cultural practices to create the docile bodies of women? In American society, there is currently an emphasis on excessive thinness of women and girls. This obsession with the slenderness of female bodies which advertising both creates and perpetuates is an essential part of the struggle aimed at restricting and immobilizing women's lives within patriarchy.In Susan Bordo's anthology titled Unbearable Weight, she examines the body as a text of femininity. Bordo writes that we learn what femininity consists of and how to achieve it directly through bodily discourse "Loss of mobility, loss of voice, inability to leave the home, feeding others while starving oneself, taking up space, and whittling down for the space one's body takes up--all have political meaning [for women] under the varying rules governing the historical construction of gender." Women are disciplined to feed others, not the self. They develop an "other-orientated emotional economy." Bordo argues that female appetite for food is a metaphorical expression of female hunger for power in the public sphere and in the bedroom. It follows then, that controlling women's appetite for food is related to limiting their movement and power in general.Bordo attributes this ideological belief to Victorian times when showing women eating was a "representational taboo", and celebrations of female sexuality used images of women eating "explicitly, lustily, and joyfully". The images that media surround us with most often agree with our culture's gender ideology. Men are almost never shown spending time on cooking. Almost all food advertisements show a woman (visible or implied) who has prepared the food being shown. Women are shown nourishing others, almost never themselves. It is actually suggested that women receive gratification through feeding others. When women are shown "self-feeding", their eating is portrayed much differently than male eating. In food commercials aimed at women, words or phrases such as "innermost cravings" or "obsession" are used. Their eating is usually shown as private and as a fulfillment of some deep emotional needs. "For women, the emotional comfort of self-feeding is rarely turned to in a state of pleasure and independence, but in despair, emptiness, loneliness, and desperation." Commercials will often show women turning to food for solace, especially if they have been emotionally wounded by a man in their lives.The ideal feminine body that advertising gives us today is one that is "absolutely tight, contained, bolted down". Being thin is not enough. One must be firm also. Obtaining the ideal body becomes a matter of self-control. Thin women are obviously in control, having...

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