Sex sells is an adage that has stood the test of time in not only media but advertising as well. Sexualization is not only prevalent in selling things such as well sex but also clothing, perfume, cars, and even cigarettes. The fact that this is even possible shows how accustomed society has become to not only sexism but racial stereotypes in ads. Most people do not see these ads as sexism but due to the “irony” and exaggeration that surrounds them they are often found to be funny. This has been engrained into our society through television for decades and most recently the internet, which bombards all of us with a limitless number of advertisements.
Jane Kilbourne in her book Cutting Girls Down says “adolescents are new and inexperienced consumers–and such prime targets”(Kilbourne 129). She relates this to teenagers forming identity, so they are “fresh meat” for advertisers. These new consumers have yet to form an identity or perception of the world. As we know your perception of the world is formed by what comes through your senses and what you experience. She writes “Margaret Mead once said, today our children are not brought up by parents, they are brought up by the mass media” (Kilbourne 129). Being brought up by mass media takes away the filter that can be provided by parents. Children are being exposed to ideas without the proper context or prerequisite knowledge or responsibility to handle the images and ideas that are being thrown at them.
These ads above are from the teenage centric brand Abercrombie & Fitch. Many of their ads show the same image. A sexualized individual or individuals usually in a suggestive pose. These ads can distort a child’s self image. Most of the ads are like the first one a skinny teen or teens usually of fairer skin. This may send the message that Abercrombie clothing is for individuals in the first ad and not for the “other”. The second and third image portray the same idea but slightly different. The second and third can make a child specifically a girl that is larger in size than most that she must be highly sexual to entertain a man like the one in the ad. These are both highly predatorial towards our youth and could cause self-image and behavioral issues in the future. However, there is an alternate view to the second and third image that is a contrast to the first. Since many of the Abercrombie’s ads look similar to the first the second and third serve as a image booster showing girls that body size should not deter them from wearing their clothing or affect self worth.