Final Project Personal Essay

As a woman living in the age of feminism, I am constantly aware of sexist debate in society. My mom has, since Trump’s election, been an extremely active advocate for women’s rights. After attending the Women’s March, she joined multiple organizations of which she now passionately promotes (Moms Demand Action, Surly Feminists for the Revolution, and even a local choir that embraces diversity and promotes harmony). With everything that she began doing, my mom really started to feel like she was making a difference. It was really inspiring to watch my mom take up this amazing hobby, but it also made me feel like I should be more informed on these prevalent issues. I always knew about the feminist movement, but never much about it. Last semester I took a women’s gender studies course that completely enhanced my understanding of the issue, and now I’m much more annoyed. The lack of awareness is, in my opinion, to blame for a lot of the sexism and bigotry in society today. It is shocking to me that we live in such an “advanced” era of time and problems like unequal pay and underrepresentation still exist.

Sociology, the study of groups and society, and media studies have an extreme overlap within the advertising sector. Since these are my prospective fields of study, advertisements are very interesting to me. Through a sociological lens, ads can be structured towards certain groups of people to evoke a particular response. Through the media, ads are strategically placed to reach a certain audience. Every aspect of an advertisement is carefully planned and executed in order to provoke some type of response by the viewer. I think it is so cool to examine an ad closely to see how it persuades people to buy a product, feel a certain emotion, donate to a cause, vote for a president, etc. We do this type of dissection in my Words and Images class, which sparked my original interest to delve further into advertisements. In this technological age, we are constantly and excessively exposed to ads (5,000 a day, according to Walker-Smith). On the Internet, there are algorithms in place to show you ads for products that are related to other things you’ve searched for or ordered before–the things that you’re more likely to purchase. With such advanced technology, we are all vulnerable to the schemes of advertising.

I have also recently developed an interest in food. This past June I was diagnosed with celiac disease, and since then I have taken a greater interest in general nutrition. With that being said, I’ve decided to focus on food advertisements–specifically ones that use women to sell their products. I am constantly baffled by the way that food advertisements over sexualize women, and I wonder if it really helps sales. Many ads are so incredibly sexist that if a man ever did the same thing, he would look like an idiot. Why is it okay for women to be portrayed in such a sexual manner? I know that as a woman myself, I would be much less inclined to purchase food from a company that promotes misogyny. I guess that there are some men who could be persuaded to buy a certain food if its advertisement showed success with women as a result of eating it, but I’d also like to think that men are better than that (haha…. hopefully). It’s also an interesting thought that watching two girls cooking burgers in bathing suits could turn a guy on so much that he decides to go to Hardee’s. I plan to structure my research around finding if these ridiculous advertisements have positive effects on sales.