Brand messaging has long permeated our culture. In the 1960s, American girls grew up believing that "blondes have more fun" and if you "give her a Hoover, you give her the best."
Mad Men-era ads promoting lotions and dishwashing liquids extolled the terror of turning 30. Ladies, your hands and face will dry up like a crustacean if you do not moisturize constantly. In the words of an old lotion ad, "Would you want to hold hands with a lobster?"
While a lot of progress has been made in the last 50 years, sexism and ageism obviously haven't disappeared from advertising. A woman, regardless of color, is often portrayed in limited capacities. She's young mommy calmly strapping her kid into a minivan or she's the mom with a Mona Lisa smile pulling out a fried, frozen chicken dish proud of her cleverness at meal problem-solving. Invariably, this includes a Martha Stewart look that has sustained for 25 years: blue work shirts and khakis.
If a woman is over 30, she is plopped on a couch chatting about her intestinal bacteria with Jamie Lee Curtis or doling out sage cleaning tips. If she's under 30, she's the large breasted, slim-hipped "up for anything" sexpot who paaarrrties with a cold round of brew. This is the same woman who, upon turning 45, becomes the patient, yet loving "up for anything" spouse of her tired, irritable, cannot get anything up, 50-plus partner of erectile dysfunction prescription drug ads. And all of these white gals do yoga!
Via Russ Merz, Ph.D.