Automobile Ads: Then and Now

Topics: Woman, Gender, Steering Pages: 4 (1479 words) Published: March 15, 2007
Automobile Advertisements: Then and Now
Attached are two advertisements each showing a picture of a car and two family members. Both ads demonstrate the amount of power allotted to women in the times they were made. Yet the differences in these ads far outweigh the similarities. One–from a 1954 Good Housekeeping–shows a woman being reprimanded by her husband for wrecking their car. The other–from a 2003 Redbook–shows a wife and mother holding her daughter with one hand and an umbrella with the other. One woman is ignorant, irresponsible, incapable, and not in control; the other is competent, responsible, and in control. The evolution of advertising reflects the changes that have taken place in the way American society views women. The ads use body image, body language, and text to encapsulate the stereotypical women of each era; in the 50's, women needed to be controlled, but now women can be in control.

The 1954 ad portrays the ideal woman of that era. This ideal was incredibly unrealistic. She has a tiny waist but large birthing hips. Her feet are small and she's wearing super-high heels. Her hands are petite and feminine, yet she's not holding anything–her purse has fallen to the ground. But, not a hair is out of place, and the elegant skirt and top she is wearing look unharmed, putting even more emphasis on the fact that the man is "wearing the pants." The 1950's society viewed women as incompetent. They needed their husbands to be in control because they could not fend for themselves; when they tried, they "crumpled fenders." Still, the woman in the ad is the ideal woman–Barbie. She is only good for looking pretty and having children, otherwise, she can't do anything right. No wonder she is not able to drive the car without wrecking–that involves thinking–and thinking would be unrealistic for this woman.

It is not, however, such a stretch to believe that the woman in the 2003 ad is capable of intelligent thought. As evidenced by the...

Cited: "Dodge Caravan." Advertisement. Redbook June 2003: 75.
"Safety Power Steering by Saginaw." Advertisement. Good Houskeeping Feb. 1954: 40.
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