Sunday, January 17, 2010

Race and Beauty: Cultural comparisons #3

When you think of a "model", the first thing that probably comes to mind is a very attractive woman or man fulfilling a very specific visual criteria: Tall, blonde, sexy and rather intimidating. But if you really think about the term "model" the last thing that comes to your mental image is the "face" of the model. We, in the U.S, in regards to advertising focus so much on the body and how it looks, rather than focus on anything else about a person. What I found interesting was the ways other cultures look at the US and how there are only a few countries that actually model the US and its valuing seductiveness and specific poses. India and S. Korea, in regards to advertising have been starting to adopt the dress, and posing that US advertising uses for their image of the female model. This means more liberal dress, and more confident independent character, as women seriously stare into the lens of the camera.
What we see in China and Japan is a much more conservative way in which women are portrayed in advertising. In China, the women dress more conservatively, while in Japan, women are portrayed as "cute" and "girly". The author in the article makes a point that women in Japan are portrayed as "cute" and "girly" so that they don't begin to see themselves as independent; more like US and Swedish women. Yet the author seems to overlook a small detail in which I feel that further supports this previous argument about the Japanese portraying women as overly feminine to keep them oppressed.
Just after making this point that women are portrayed overly feminine for this very purpose of keeping men in control in society, the author says that Western women are portrayed in advertising in these very countries; perhaps leaving us to believe that they are beginning to "accept" US western views about women. What I see is that the use of Western women in foreign advertising is a inconspicuous way for Asian and Middle Eastern women to stay subservient and overly feminine. Otherwise, if these cultures were accepting the more liberal culture of the US and the Western European countries, wouldn't they just use women of their own country and race and dress them and shape them to be just like Western women? It seems to me that the use of Western women in advertisement instead of using women of their own country in western style dress and character shows that there is still a much deeper traditional culture where men are dominant. You can see through these small details about foreign advertising that although countries are becoming more capitalist and become part of the globalized network, there is still strong tradition in culture that may not crumble as easy as US tradtional values did, due to globalization.
Ma$on Malloryyy
Frith, Cheng, and Shaw. "Race and Beauty: A Comparison of Asian and Western Models in Women's Magazine Advertisements."

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