Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Subliminal Messages

Killing Us Softly 3 made me realize that in most advertisements, women are portrayed as submissive, especially to sex, men, and society. The examples that were shown during the presentation from the 1980s and 1990s mirrored the photo spreads in the most recent Nylon issue I was reading. It was filled with pictures of girls with innocent-looking faces in vulnerable and sensual positions. "High-fashion" poses, especially, portray the models as fragile, delicate, and mostly awkward with their arched backs, spread legs, and facial expressions that alternate between seduction and innocence, portraying a girl that can easily be taken advantage of.
However, the image above portrays women in a different light. The denotation of this advertisement would be of a girl about to kung-foo kick someone. A great underlying connotation is also present. The personality of the model can only be described as 'fierce.' Her body language is very different from the previously described advertisements that commonly fill the pages of magazines. Instead of a frail and awkward pose, this woman's body looks fit and strong, as if she is in defense of something, ready to kick whatever comes her way. Her facial expression looks as if she is staring something straight on with full intent to attack, and her hair is slicked back which emphasizes her sense of athleticism. The outfit, a button-down white shirt tucked into black pants, also leans towards masculinity. Her accessories, such as her heels, belt, and bracelet are the only things she is wearing that would only be worn by women. The lighting is focused on her and there is nothing else in the picture besides the black background, which highlights this woman's tough stance. All of the elements in this advertisement portrays women as strong, intimidating, and aggressive. 
Even though this advertisement does take a different approach to selling clothes, the bottom line is that the brand wants to make money, just like every other company. All of the elements in this advertisement are strategically placed in order to manipulate us (the consumer) even though it may seem like they want to be on our side and portray this woman as someone who cannot be taken advantage of. The irony is that this strategy used takes advantage of its consumers. Subtle elements are targeted towards our subconscious, such as the fact that she is not looking directly into the camera. If she was looking straight into the camera, it may be too intimidating and could cause the opposite of what an advertisement entails.  Another example could be the fact that the model is thin and wearing tight clothes which reveals her body still plays with the idea that advertisements portray perfect and unrealistic bodies. Not many women can pull of the outfit she is wearing, leading to girls' dissatisfaction with their own bodies. It is as if there is a subliminal message saying that if you buy these clothes, you will be strong enough to ignore all those ideals of beauty plastered on billboards and magazines, and as a bonus you'll get to look like this girl! Even the placement of the company's name makes it look like a platform for her to jump from or step on to, aiding in the termination of whatever she is staring at.
Although this advertisement takes on a different approach to advertising its clothes by marketing powerful women, it takes advantage of its consumers by relating to their insecurities while subconsciously building new ones.

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