Archive for October, 2013


loreal paris hair color ad

A recent ad for the L’Oreal Preference Blondissimes hair color line features a Russian model named Natasha Poly.  The ad can be viewed in many high-end women’s fashion magazines, such as Vogue and Elle.  Poly is shown in the ad with platinum blonde hair and very low cut top revealing perfect skin.

Because this is an ad for hair color, it glorifies the highly-desired trait of light hair color.  One way it is depicted in the ad is by featuring a Russian model.  Typically, when people think of Russians, they think of dark hair and features as that is a prominent stereotype.  The choice of a Russian model is probably meant to suggest the capability of the hair color product because her hair color in the advertisement is flawlessly platinum, compared to the dark brown that many people might assume was her prior hair color.  The wording of the ad, particularly the slogan, “The Power of Pure Platinum,” suggests the woman who has platinum blonde hair will be more powerful and successful in life.

Not only does this ad glorify blonde hair, but it also idealizes a flawless complexion.  The model featured has absolutely perfect skin, just as Kilbourne (2013) discusses when talking about women – or mannequins as she refers to them – in ads: “She has no lines or wrinkles (which would indicate she had the bad taste and poor judgment to grow older), no scars or blemishes – indeed, she has no pores”.  The airbrushing effects used on the model make her look exactly like the stereotype mentioned by Kilbourne (2013), “Advertising creates a mythical, mostly white world in which people are rarely ugly…” and also by Wharton (2013):  “Sex sells, and the representation of female identity has been increasingly reductive in a media suffused by images of youth and glamour” (p. 93).  The model is portrayed as young and glamorous in the ad, and images such as these can have a negative impact on women because it can make them feel like perfection is attainable and if they are not perfect, they are insignificant in the world.  Kilbourne (2013) says it perfectly in the article when she states, “Objectified constantly by others, she learns to objectify herself”.

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In a recent commercial for Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr. breakfast sandwiches, the company shows an African American woman making biscuits.  The advertisement refers to the woman as a “one trick pony”, which might imply that the only thing that she can do is make biscuits.

After doing some research on the commercial, the woman featured in the ad does, in fact, make biscuits at a Hardee’s in North Carolina; however, the ad could possibly be construed as implied racism.  The representation of race contained in the commercial is not consistent with the underlying narratives discussed in class, but rather uses stereotypes of African American women, which brings to mind the Southern Mammy type frequently seen in movies and television shows.  While the woman in the ad really does make biscuits from scratch for Hardee’s (and was crowned the Best Biscuit Maker of the biggest Hardee’s franchiser in 2009 and 2012, no less!), the voiceover of the ad is what is most offensive when paired with the visual of an older African American woman making biscuits: “The only thing she does do is make biscuits from scratch. She may be a one-trick pony, but it’s one heck of a trick.”  Furthermore, the music playing in the background, “Something You Got” by Wilson Pickett, might bring to mind the Civil Rights Era of the mid-60’s, which is when it was originally released.

When all of the aforementioned elements are combined into one commercial, there is an overtone of stereotypical racism that might somewhat overshadow the real intention of the commercial, which is presumably to sell breakfast sandwiches.  Perhaps Hardee’s should have emphasized the woman’s accomplishments more explicitly rather than referring to her as a “one trick pony” amidst the background of an old-school R&B hit.