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Images of Beauty
An introspective look at Fluid Hair Salons 2011 ad campaign: Look Good in All You Do
Alex Gabaldo 5301318 Francois Lepage 6768839 Emmah Peters 6433898 Eric Pepin 5761864

Submitted to Professor: Dina Salha December 17, 2012

Advertising has completely surrounded our figures. It is now the complete essence of being a human in the modern day age. From the billboards off of the highway to the tiny writing we may see on pens. It is a significant part of our culture as it is now literally incorporated into everything. Everything we do, everything we eat, and everything we ultimately buy is based on our exposure to advertisement. It fundamentally consumes us. The advertising techniques and methods used have now become redundant. New unique and fresh forms of advertising are now the basis of a successful campaign. This is where controversial ads come into effect. The use of shock advertising in order to generate public feud is no exception to the competitive business world. The entire point of ads being controversial is to purposely offend the audience by breaking social norms in an attempt to generate exposure for the ad itself. Fluid Hair Salons Look Good in All You Do advertisement campaign does just that. It uses explicit nature in order to sell its service. More specifically, it utilizes the use of drugs, violence, and sexualized images in order to stir conflict within the public. Using Fluid Hair Salons ad as an example, this paper will seek out to demonstrate the fact that imagery in fashion advertising that is overly sexualized and violent blurs the line between what is real and idealized through repeated exposure and supports stereotypical gender roles that are harmful to societys view of women. The advertisement seems to sell itself as a package which does not only endorse glamour and fashion, but also domestic violence and narcotic use. Of course, the public responded with outrage as many of the images presented by the hair salon are claimed to be outright detrimental to the view of women, especially the images that contain domestic abuse. Fluid Hair Salon has been around for roughly 10 years. Sarah Cameron (the woman behind the ownership and advertising campaigns) is very straight on her position to the responses of the public. "Is it cutting-edge advertising? Yes. Is it intended to be a satirical look at real-life situations that

ignites conversation and debate? Of course. Is it to everyones taste? Probably not," (Huffington Post, 2011, p. 1). Despite the criticism Fluid Hair Salon has received, the management staff still resents the assumptions made by public outcry stating that "media genre that promotes freedom of speech and expression only for themselves are hypocritical. Please interpret the ad as freedom dictates that is your right just as artistic expression is our right." (Edmonton News Cast, 2011, p. 1). Essentially, Fluid Hair Salon responds quite defensively with the simple fact that anything can be interpreted differently by anyone and therefore they should be entitled to their right to advertise using such means. This paper will look to challenge this statement. The entire campaign glorifies violence, drug abuse, and sexualized images. It does this by selling an overall containment of subliminal suggestions which cannot be interpreted differently as shock advertising works in such a way that purposely offends the audience. In order to support our position on the matter, we will look at several aspects of the Look Good in All You Do campaign. First we will use the Frankfurt School as a theoretically framework of critical analysis. Second, we seek to understand and dissect common gender stereotypes and identify those which are used within our chosen ad campaign; additionally we will look into the evolution of the gender role and its stunted sense of equality. Finally, an in depths look at the way sexuality and violence have become synonymous and merged into one entity most always seen hand in hand with one another in popular media. Spilling over from the box office, onto television, into magazines and finally into print ads such as those marketed by Colors of Benneton and Fluid Hair Salon. To begin, the Frankfurt School will serve as a proper form of analysis for the Look Good in All You Do campaign. The Frankfurt School is one of the best social critical analysis frameworks on advertisement to this day. In short it was a group of German intellectuals whose "Critical

Theory" drew on psychological insights (amongst other influences) to ground its position on emancipation and social change (Stewart, 2007, p. 22). The overall goal was to explain how culture was formulated based on various surrounding structures. The Frankfurt School thinkers sought to combine social philosophy with methods gleaned from psychology to develop a form of Utopian thinking that was predicated on a dialectical view of the relationship between structure and agency (Stewart, 2007, p. 22). People are built based on several factors whether they are internal or external. In application to advertising, we see that the Frankfurt School was a solid framework in the analysis of culturally-constructed identities. Fluid Hair Salons Look Good In All You Do Campaign utilizes shock advertising in order to service the public with several ads that encourage a culture of narcissism. It creates standardization for a desire of beauty. The slogan itself demonstrates a strong crave for social acceptance through image and physical loveliness. Many of the images brought forward by public outcry contained an explicit nature that included physical and narcotic abuse. The ad looks to encompass the unfortunate realities of the world into an artistic and creative environment which highlights the fashion of the woman depicted. To summarize, the often hostile environments the woman is situated in seems to place emphasis on looks rather than the current situation. This creative advertising technique uses an accentuating method of drawing attention to the physical looks of the woman rather than what is happening in the image. So how does this relate to cultural-constructed identities? Advertising today seeks to glorify beauty in all forms. Artistic expressions are common, but not when domestic abuse seems to be part of the package. The fashion industry is one that has all types of images and their constant use of creativity has formulated a general guideline for fashion advertising. The obsession with looking good has ultimately given birth to a culture that judges on external characteristics. The Frankfurt School seeks to expose how the use of mass

media has structured agencies amongst the public. In relation to this statement, we can see that Fluid Hair Salons creative use of shock advertising has not only sold its guaranteed quality as a prominent hair salon, but also as an advocate for domestic abuse and violence. In advertising, gender stereotypes play a large role in contributing to the message of an advertisement. Advertisements do more than just sell products. They sell values and concepts of how people should look and act that are internalized through repetition of the same message. It is these stereotypes that contribute to a negative image of women in the eyes of both genders. Women are told be weak, and men are told to be overly powerful and as masculine as possible so there is no chance that they can be associated with femininity. These stereotypes that are present in media then go on to be present in the workplace and in daily lives of people. In the media, women are usually portrayed as weak, vulnerable, passive, and sexualized. There is also an overwhelming white ideal that is associated with women in advertising where they need to be white, very light, or have white features to be considered beautiful (Kilbourne, 2010). More often than not, female models must also be thin, young, and portray an unrealistic image of perfection. It is all of these factors that contribute to the negative image of women through the repetition of these messages in advertising. The most obvious aspect of advertising that affects womens self-image is the appearance of the models in advertisements. The closer the actual body approximates to idealized images of youth, health, fitness and beauty the higher its exchange value (Redmond, 2003). When looking at the Fluid Hair Salon campaign, it can be clearly seen that all of the models are skinny, fit, and beautiful. This image alongside the slogan, Look Good in All You Do, provides a message that if you are not thin, you dont look good. Even though the message is meant to be about how your

hair looks, there is no variety or diversity in the models. The campaign implies that there is only one ideal; to be thin. When looking at advertisements such as Fluid Hair Salons campaign, it is appropriate to call upon the Whiteness Theory. This theory focuses on analysing power, privilege and rewards of whiteness (Burton et al., 2009). The theory looks at the positives that being white is associated with and how when looking at advertisements, people of colour are shown in less favorable situations than white people. When looking at Fluid Hair Salon, this may seem contradictory in the way that these white models are not shown in favorable situations, they are actually shown in very undesirable situations in most, if not all cases. Normally, Whiteness can take the form of whites interests, points of view, material well-being, self-image and notions of appropriate behaviour that are portrayed as the norm (Burton et al., 2009). Although these traits are not being depicted in Fluid Hair Salons campaign, the message of the advertisements still favour whiteness. This is because of the slogan of the ad, Look good in all you do. Even though the models are in compromising, un-lady-like situations, it doesnt matter because they are white, thin, pretty and their hair looks great. It is suggested that they can even get away with murder. Looking back at the Fluid Hair Salon ad campaign, there are two images that are slightly different than the others. These images depict the women in more masculine roles, one as a construction worker and the other crashing a motorcycle. These images have the potential to be a positive message for womens empowerment, having them in masculine settings doing a mans job. They can be seen as women challenging male domination and power (Nguyen, 2008). Unfortunately, this is not the case with this ad campaign. As part of this campaign, all of the images are to depict something negative that can be fixed with having amazing hair. These

particular images are meant to oppress the women in these masculine roles by associating the images with negativity. It is messages like these that continue to oppress women in the workplace and force them to compete with men. Women in masculine roles are also judged harshly because of men needing to be associated with masculinity. The images of a masculine woman threatens male power by serving the naturalized connection between masculinity and male bodies, by causing masculinity to appear queer, and by usurping mens roles (Nguyen, 2009). The Fluid Hair Salon ad campaign supports that Women must be feminine, men must be masculine, and ones gender/sex must be recognizable at a glance (Nguyen, 2009). It is these perceptions of feminine and masculine that create a negative view of the women in these ads. Although it is clear that these are women in the ads, they are assuming a mans role and threatening the masculinity of the mans role. In this ad campaign, women can be seen in all kinds of situations, but eventually they can all be seen as either vulnerable or overly sexualized (Kilbourne, 2010). This is extremely common in advertising, as women are depicted as weak and vulnerable, especially when a man is present in the advertisement. Looking at one of the images in particular, a woman with a black eye is sitting on a couch, with a man (presumably her husband) standing over her in a very dominant fashion. The woman in this image does not look as though she has any power, and is at the complete mercy of the man standing over her. It is advertisements such as these, that promote domestic violence and women being seen as objects with no self-worth, they just look nice and are shown as concerned about their physical attractiveness, housewives and objects of sexual gratification (Plakoyiannaki, 2008) without any sort of depth in personality or intelligence.

It is these types of gender stereotyping that reinforce negative images of women and how women view themselves. The unrealistic idea that a woman must be white, thin, sexy, and feminine to be beautiful is a fabrication by the media that imposes values on women at a very young age. These messages are then repeated throughout the majority of advertisements all through life and in all types of ads, not just ads focused on beauty or fashion. Gender roles seem to play a big part not only in the Fluid Hair Salon advertising campaign but also in advertising in general. A gender role is the definition of what a male or a female is when it is shown to others. It is a way for the male and the female gender to be distinguished easily. Advertising seems to play a big role in making sure that gender roles are clear and that especially the women role appeals to their market. Whether it be the Fluid Hair Salon ad, or magazines, or political advertising gender roles make an unflattering image of what women should be and what they should look like. Many things can affect the role that a person thinks they must have because of their sex. A major factor is the media and the advertisements around them. This role is usually set at a young age when influenced by their elders or the media (Akotia and Anum 5024). In some of the ads made by Fluid Hair Salon, it seems very clear that there is a divide between the man and the woman. Advertising has consistently placed men and women in two distinctly different roles. This is particularly true when talking about physical images and body language. Often times, it is found that women in image ads such as magazines are put in subordinate positions (Conely and Ramsey 470). This can be anything from depicting women as small children, to trivialize or eroticize violence against female models (Conely and Ramsey 470). Although women are depicted in this way in many advertising spots, it is not the same case for men. Many of the traits that are linked to women in magazine advertising are almost the exact

opposite for men (Conely and Ramsey 470). It is found that men are rarely sexualised in ads and are a more dominant figure to the women (Conely and Ramsey 471). These points clearly fall in line with what the Fluid Hair Salon ad presents to its customers. Although it seems as though society is adapting to a more modern view of the male female gender role, this evolution has not fully developed. In general there have been two categories for gender roles. The first is the traditional role, in which the man goes to work and the women stays at home. The second is the modern view, where both the man and the women may either work and one stays at home or vice versa. It has been stated that most people see a completely different phase, a more transitional one (Akotia and Anum 5023). This transitional phase suggests that people believe women can devote time to both work and family domains, but should hold proportionally more responsibility for the home while men focus more of their energy on work (Akotia Anum 5023). This fact would leave us to believe that advertising with such traditional gender roles are not completely considered wrong or inappropriate by a good percentage of the population. If this type of phase is kept it seems as though women in advertising will stay at the same level of stereotype. Not only is this kind of gender roles in capitalist advertising but also in political advertising. In the United States (U.S.) during the 2006 elections the number of female candidates had increased dramatically since the last elections (Fridkin, Kenney, and Woodall 55). With this has come a mass of negative advertisements against these candidates. Studies found that women who were candidates for political office in the U.S. female candidates are seen as sensitive, warm, and emotional (Fridkin, Kenney, and Woodall 55). This was a stark contrast to the male counterpart who seemed tougher and powerful (Fridkin, Kenney, and Woodall 55). Although this would seem like ample opportunity to attack the female candidate on

these points, it is not. Other studies show that negative advertising on women seemed to not work because it seemed mean and not correct to attack the women (Fridkin, Kenney, and Woodall 69). It was also stated that it seemed more likely that a man would start a negative ad because of his traits (Fridkin, Kenney, and Woodall 57). This research seems to show that even when women are able to fight for a position, gender roles seem to stop any such confrontation even though advertising against female candidates are based on their typical roles. It almost seems that gender roles, in this situation, are working against itself to stop or start this advertising. Sexualisation also leads to a more heavy handed gender role towards women. The need for a perfect body or perfect hair in the case of the Fluid Hair Salon ad, pressured in advertising tells women to be more like a woman (Dahl, Sengupta, and Vohs 215). It is shown that over sexualisation in ads turn away women from the particular ad, but it does attract men. Since men dont mind, but actually appreciate over sexualisation in ads it tends to push women to become more like the ad to gain the recognition of the men (Dahl, Sengupta, and Vohs 216). The gender roles portrayed in advertising is a dangerous aspect of advertising that leads to problematic situations for womens self-esteem. Since advertising everywhere and a large portion of the advertising uses sexualisation of women, it is hard to avoid putting a certain role to each woman for how they should act. The sex that each person is given when they are born determines a persons role for them from the first day all because of advertising. Fluid Hair Salon pushes this idea with a passive woman that has been physically outmatched and vulnerable. This is a serious problem that the ad proposes and it cannot be used just for the purpose to sell their product.


Various tried and true techniques that are used to communicate or publicize for the purpose of selling are excessively and commonly used to the point that companies now need to revitalize their consumer market by coming up with fresh and unique methods. In order to compete in the never-ending battle for the consumers dollars; companies are beginning to make the content of their ads more graphic and shocking in order to catch the attention of the consumer. Advertisements are often geared toward either sexuality which has garnered the title pornification or violence. This is a catch 22 as issues begin to arises when certain advertisements are deemed as controversial; thus stirring conflict and generating dispute amongst the public. Indeed sexualization and what Cas Wouters termed pornification in the essay and commentaries on Sexualities has been an ever popular topic of conversation in reference to what Hollywood has been producing for the public; For several years now, sexualization and pornication have become increasingly wellknown concepts that usually carry and convey great moral concern and moral indignation. However in terms of mainstream media. . . Hollywood makes approximately 400 lms a year, while the porn industry now makes from 10,000 to 11,000. Seven hundred million porn videos or DVDs are rented each year . . . Pornography revenues . . . total between 10 and 14 billion dollars annually. (Wouters, 724) With porn so widespread and more or less accepted at least on some level, Hollywood has taken a page from the porn industrys book and amped up the sexuality in their own movies. This causes mass desensitization and opens the floor for advertisers to begin marketing sexuality and violence, a long time staple of the box office, in their own ad campaigns. When the acceptable and intangible borders of product promotion are crossed there is chatter across the board. However even this eventually gives way to newer and more controversial advertisement techniques.


The American Psychological Association (APA) denes sexualization as occurring under one or more of these four conditions: a persons value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or sexual behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics; a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness dened with being sexy; a person is sexually objectied made into a thing for others sexual use, rather than seen as a person capable of independent action and decision making; and/or, sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person. Sexualization is the new normal. And a service which is intended to beautify you and help you look your best while rocking the current trend, in this case Fluid Hair Salon, is buying into the popular belief that sexualization is the way to sell their service. What the salon is really doing is showcasing how imagery in fashion advertising is in fact overly sexualized and violent blurring the line between what is real and idealized and in supports stereotypical gender roles that are harmful to societys view of women. With the plethora of media options available today, it is possible to access the latest news or the most popular song almost anywhere and anytime, yet it is also possible to be inundated by unwanted messages and material. Media content responds to demand and is a reflection of culture, but it also contributes to it. Throughout North American and particularly U.S. culture, especially in mainstream media, women and girls are depicted in a sexualizing manner. This can be seen in every medium, including; television programs, commercials (television, radio, youtube, etc), music videos, and magazines On television, young viewers encounter a world that is disproportionately male, especially in youth-oriented programs, "female characters are significantly more likely than male characters to be attractive and provocatively dressed" (American Psychological Association, 9). However it is print that seems to have the most impact. One of the dominant themes about sexuality reported through the studies conducted by the American Psychological Association was that they discovered and


across a wide range of magazines is that presenting oneself as sexually desirable and thereby gaining the attention of men is and should be a womans primary goal at all times. Girls and young women are repeatedly encouraged to look and dress in specific ways to look sexy for men, a phenomenon labeled costuming for seduction (American Psychological Association, 14), and to use certain products in order to be more attractive to and desired by males. Fluid Hair Salon has employed the same tactics. Their slogan coupled with their sometimes graphic images have a certain sex appeal and one begins to notice that the women, even when sudjugated, are dressed well, well shod, well-coiffed, made-up perfectly, physically fit and very attractive. They are costumed for the benefit of the consumer so the consumer remembers the particular advertisement because despite the bad to be found in the image the women themselves look rather impressive beside or below a male figure, or in the absence of a male, performing a job or task typically associated with masculinity. The authors of the APA report stated that the content of these magazines and other fashion advertisement encouraged young women to think of themselves as sexual objects whose lives were not complete unless they are the counterpart to or connected to a man in a sexual relationship. Fashion advertisements give female readers and viewers both explicit and implicit advice on how to look and dress to attract men. Additionally which attributes were most successful in attracting men; such as innocence, and which were least successful and should be avoided at all costs. Chief amongst these undesirable traits was being pushy or bossy, acting as the dominant or even in some cases equal partner in a relationship, being too maternal and motherly, being too demanding, and pushing too early for commitment. The sexualization of women is and always has been particularly prominent in the world of advertising for the simple fact that women remain unable to shake the traditional stereotype of stay-at-home mother despite


becoming highly sexualized. Women were originally sexualized to make the role of stay-at-home mom more attractive to women who wished to enter the workforce, by giving women the impression that they wielded the power of their sexuality like a job title women retreated back into the home thinking they had won. In print ads in popular magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Vogue, and Elle for example, women more often than men were shown in a state of undress, exhibited more sexiness or sultriness and were depicted as sexual objects 9.2% of men vs. 20.8% of women (American Psychological Association, 12). The APA also reported that similar findings appeared in analyses of commercials on MTV. Beer commercials have emerged as a particularly well known source of images that sexualize women. Of the 72 beer and nonbeer ads randomly selected from prime-time sports and entertainment programming, 75% of the beer ads and 50% of the nonbeer ads were labeled as sexist, featuring women in very limited and objectifying roles (American Psychological Association, 16). In one analysis of women appearing in advertisements in Time and Vogue from 1955 to 2002, Lindner of the APA team reported that an average of 40% of ads featured women as decorative objects. When women are featured as decorations such as being shown standing seductively next to a car to enhance the image of the car, the primary purpose is for the woman to be looked at. In this type of advertising women are more or less considered special effects and enhancements to the product rather than consumers or users of the product. Female models were also found to be more likely than male models to be placed in submissive, sexually exploitive, and violent positions. In approximately 80% of the ads in their sample, female models were posed in sexually exploitive postures (American Psychological Association, 19). A fine example would be Fluid Hair Salons series of print ads which garnered so much negative attention because they featured women in submissive and sexually exploitative positions, not


mention there was a running theme of violence. This imagery has idealized to the point that we are exposed to images like it every single day and with repeated exposure to the depiction of extreme sexualization the gap between artificial and real blurs and women take for granted what they see as the norm and socially acceptable. Since we are literally inundated with advertisements everywhere we look the cultural perception that women are the weaker sex, subject to sexual subjugation, exploitation, and abuse at the hands of the stronger sex grows up along with us. Kari Lerum and Shari L. Dworkins commentary and essays based on the research conducted by the APA, entitled bad girls rule: An interdisciplinary feminist commentary on the report of the APA task force on the sexualization of girls, takes the stand that the way women have been sexualized and even abused in media has also helped them take strides forward in the feminist movement by grabbing mens attention, however Lerum also stated that she was disturbed by some of the images that the media had deemed appropriate for public consumption to sell a product. Dworkins commentary runs along the lines of that of Cas Wouters views on pornification, however Dworkin takes it one step further with the inclusion of how violence affects the growing mind. She cites the same Social learning theory that the APA team uses however she also states that, . . .cognitive developmental theory (e.g.,Warin, 2000), and gender schema theory (e.g., Bem, 1985) all offer explanations for the learning of culturally appropriate gender roles, ideologies, practices, and behaviors via reinforcement from others and modeling. According to socialization theories, girls learn about womens expected roles in the world and strive to enact these expectations, because doing so brings specific rewards and because being consistent with expectations is itself rewarding. In addition, violations of the boundaries of


these roles or ideologies can be met with punishment, denigration, and even violence. (Dworkin and Lerum, 258) Dworkins own theory is that socialization theories help us see that girls understanding of appropriate femininity is not natural or innate but rather is developed through a processes where girls draw information from the adults and peers, all of the things and people they interact with throughout the day, real and fictional, around them. A lot of research, time and money is put into brand recognition so that certain symbols and phrases become embedded into the psyche of consumers which is the overall goal of companies selling their products or services. The Look good in all you do campaign explicitly uses substance abuse, domestic violence, and negative imagery to persuade consumers to use their service. Its use of outrageous, provocative, abusive, and suggestive themes to catch the attention of women and begin to apply brand recognition to their label. Despite some of the images featured in the ad campaign clearly being disturbing the fact of the matter is that this technique is not uncommon in the business world. How far companies should be allowed to go in selling a service when conflicting and insulting images are the end result is as yet undetermined. As the line is being pushed further and further, society at large becomes desensitized to graphic images. The publicized appearance of women within Fluid Hair Salons advertisement can easily translate into a falsely perceived reality. Conclusively it has been determined that, fashion advertising is indeed toxic to women and demoralizing by mocking a womans strength and the place women hold in society not just as decoration, live in maid, and cook. Freedom of interpretation should always be permitted. But, when an entire sex is being damaged by something as simple as an image, then it becomes evident that harm has been done. It is our goal


that this project and final paper has encouraged others to seek out the flaws in the production of fashion advertisements in ever-changing world of marketing.


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