I’m sorry to shatter millions of illusions built up by advertising over the years in one fell swoop. But it needs to be said.
Recently I have found myself becoming more and more annoyed at advertising aimed at women, it seems that after a brief period of ‘girl power’ which involved turning the tables on the sexes and watching women drool over the diet coke man et al, the rise of social media has forced women back into their domestic box. Scenarios in which women are featured in ads are largely domestic, or surrounded by other groups of prattling women who seem to fall into two camps, dieting miserable faced shrews or cheeky snack-stealing ‘funny friends’.
I like to laugh, and not in an aww-look-at-that-kitten-lol way or even a Miranda-fainting-every-time-she-sees-a-cute-man way but in an observational, rude, juvenile, silly, nonsensical, clever or anything else kind of way. Simply, the same sense of humour as a man. But if advertising is to be believed, I am a tiny majority. Women aren’t rude, they’re homely, heavily bonded with other females and only laugh about ridiculous clichés like having your skirt tucked in your knickers (minor tangent – since writing this, I managed to walk down Oxford Street complete with said seemingly impossible and mortifying cliché. A woman stopped me. She didn’t laugh; she discretely pointed it out, smiled and went on her way. I have never felt more proud to have had a moment of sisterly solidarity.)
I totally understand why stereotypes are used, a quick jump for the mind in order to cram a plotline into 30 seconds. And I know they’re used in every ad, aimed at both men and women, it’s just that our ones always make us come out that little bit worse… nagging, dieting, cross, self obsessed man eaters. And whilst, I’m more than happy to hang out of a window whistling at a passing semi naked man whilst cramming a cereal bar down my throat and hating myself for leaving the kids at home and wondering what I’m going to wear tonight, it’s not something I do every day.
Maybe it’s something to do with my age or location. Having my ‘girlfriends’ huddle together in my kitchen is nigh on impossible in a 2-bedroom flat in south London. But even if I did choose to have the girls round, I’d like to think I’m not the kind of person to put out snacks for my friends and then berate them when (oh horror of horrors) they eat said snacks.
If the ads are to be believed we have snack brands to thank for this country’s current obesity epidemic – apparently women just lose all self control around them and resort to… wait for it… snacking on the snacks that were put out as a snack for them to snack on!
But perhaps it’s just the kind of girl I am. I am not the type to discuss passing stools whilst drinking margaritas nor meeting friends for a coffee just to chat about my weak bladder.
We Brits are often accused of keeping our cards too close to our chests and yet if British advertising is to be believed, we just can’t help but spill our most intimate physical and emotional secrets over a yoghurt.
Personally, I can’t wait until I have children because then it seems the real fun begins: this is the time of my life when I am required by law to objectify men, and trivialize their input in society to my heart’s content.
I can join my ‘girlfriends’ in collectively rolling our eyes at all men everywhere. I can also sexualize men, safe if the knowledge that if they tried to do the same to us, there would be a string of complaints made to the ASA.
Not that I have a problem believing these women exist. I too have my fair share of Facebook mums who litter my feed with a mind numbing amount of photos of their children whilst simultaneously snorting in derision at anyone having any matter of personal problem with their self styled ‘you-don’t-know what- (insert common parental complaint here)- is-until-you’ve-had-children.
What I’m basically getting at is that I can’t recognise any of the women I see in ads these days and (assuming they exist) this small percentage of simpering bitchy women that are being over-portrayed in UK advertising at the moment is making me hate my sex.
The thought process seems so glaringly lazy. This is a product aimed at women… we open on a kitchen. Seriously? There are plenty of occasions in which a group of women get together and yet, in my 28 years I have never, and will never invite three of my closest confidants into my kitchen for yoghurt. Whether it’s fat free or not.