Jean Kilbourne’s talk got featured on TEDx

Excerpt from

Cultural theorist Jean Kilbourne is an ardent investigator of advertising. Since the 1960s, she has collected print ads, examining the ways women are portrayed in American advertising.

“Gradually, I began to see a pattern in the ads,” she says in a talk at TEDxLafayetteCollege, “a sort of statement about what it meant to be a woman in [American] culture.”

And in the decades that have passed that statement has grown to be more and more dangerous, Kilbourne says. “The pressure on women to be young, thin, beautiful is more intense than ever before,” she says, citing the photo manipulation powers of Photoshop, which allows advertisers to permeate ads with images of women that are not only unrealistic, but also poisonous, Kilbourne says. These computer-altered images permeate and distort society’s expectations for the female body, Kilbourne says, encouraging women to model their self-image on artificial models and for both sexes to accept this as normal.

With the help of many, many real world examples, Kilbourne shares how ads insult, dismember and objectify women’s bodies, and how these advertisements affect ideas of female beauty, expectations for female physical perfection and reinforce the nefarious idea that women are mere objects for male sexual desire and use.


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