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Women In Sports Advertisements Essay

3600 words - 14 pages

How have women been portrayed in sports advertisements? Before I started school, I spent a large portion of my days outside, being an active child. I continued to be active throughout elementary school, and then in middle and high school I joined just about every sports team I could, including: cross country, golf, volleyball, gymnastics, and track. I consider myself lucky to have been given so many opportunities, since women were unable to participate competitively in sports until the 1900’s. I have always been interested in sports and living an active lifestyle, so when I reached high school and became more competitive, I wanted the best equipment to reach my athletic potential. I did some research and asked friends and family which brand of sports equipment and athletic wear they would recommend; many said Nike. This is understandable, because Nike outranks many competing companies due to its brand becoming a community of loyal customers, who continually buy quality products from a company that adapts to the times, and outperforms their competition. When I looked at Nike’s advertisements, however, I found the men’s advertisements to be athletic and inspirational, but the women’s were seductive and sexualized. Women have been given more rights since the 1900’s, and are hypothetically equal to men, but there is a difference between how they are portrayed in advertisements. Are women portrayed in all sports advertisements as sex objects, and if they are, why are women portrayed in a different way than men are in advertisements where many would think they’d be portrayed similarly?
To explore answers to these questions I read the Journal of Sport & Social Issues article "That's Who I Want to Be: The Politics and Production of Desire within Nike Advertising to Women.” This article seemed to be most related to my topic and is a credible source. Author, Michelle T. Helstein, wrote this article in August of 2003, when she was a doctoral candidate in the faculty of physical education and recreation at the University of Alberta. She wrote this article for those who wish to study Nike’s advertising of women, and how their advertisements affect women. Another secondary audience is women who struggle with body image, or who wonder what a good body image is. Helstein studied Nike’s advertisements because she thought the ads made women feel the need for excellence in athletics and promoted Nike as a tool to help women achieve this level of excellence. Nike’s advertisements encouraged women to work on themselves and their bodies so they could show off their better self.
Michelle Helstein opens her article by exploring how Nike began making products for women and including them in their advertisements. Advertisements by Nike were not directed towards women until 1987. Their first advertisement for women was found offensive because it ended by chiding women for eating like pigs. Nike then changed tactics and made ads that encouraged women to exercise and eat...

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