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American Apparel ad, the ad challenges the status quo of gender roles in advertisements. As stated above, the woman is depicted in the ad as a dominating sexual being. The fact that the woman appears to be the initiator and to be the one in control of the situation goes against the advertising norm of women depicted as innocent, victims, and men’s possession. Instead the model is depicted as active, independent, and sexually powerful (Gill, 2008). When men’s dominance is the norm, women’s subordination is eroticized in pop culture; this ad juxtaposes that norm (Kilbourne, 1999). On average, only 3.23% of advertisements feature women as aggressors (Stankiewiez and Rosselli, 2008). Whether it is challenging traditional ways of clothing production, political issues, or advertising, American Apparel is consistently challenges the norm and depicting an alternative to the norm. This is appealing to their target audience, whoare individuals who also want to challenge the status quo, whether that is in politics or fashion clothing. American Apparel also does not airbrush their photos and advertisements. According toHolt, “Iconic brands demonstrate their fidelity when they are willing to take chances to uphold the populist ethos” (Holt, 2004). This kind of sacrifice is an effective vehicle for earning authenticity and loyal customers. The company doesn’t use airbrushing and uses plus size models in their ads, displaying their willingness to adapt to what the populist wants. The Nike ad challenges what is considered normal in ads by glorifying a muscular and athletic body that isn’t typically depicted in ads. The typical women model is usually extremely thin and frail. The Nike ad juxtaposes this status quo with the prose celebrating a bigger build. The fact that Nike is embracing another larger body type is something new in itself for the advertising industry. Nike uses prose in their advertisements to entertain and preach Nike’s philosophy (Goodman and Papson, 1998). They are not seen as a corporation but a community ofindividuals that uphold a philosophy and a view of the world. 7
Although each company tries to portray their company as being different, authentic, and the opposite of the status quo through their ads, are these companies really that progressive? Using the feminist perspective to examine the depiction of the women in these ads, one can see that these ads do follow the norms of advertising and society. The images of the women in both ads are sexualized. The American Apparel ad does break the norm and depict the woman in the ad as independent and active. Unfortunately, the ad is still depicting her as a sexual object. This is anything but new, since ads depicting women in decorative and sexualized roles has been increasing since 1958 (Stankiewiez and Rosselli, 2008). As previously stated, both ads' removal of the women models' faces takes away their personalities and changes them from an individual to a body that could be anyone. The American Apparel ad has a female model that is similar to the traditional models seen in the majority of ads today, a thin model. Both ads convey the