Empowerment for Sale: Feminist Representations of Women in Dove Real Beauty Commercials

Heramia, A. C. O. (2017). Empowerment for Sale: Feminist Representations of Women in Dove Real Beauty Commercials, Unpublished Undergraduate Thesis, University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication.

This study examines the representation of women in media that subvert gender roles established by society, and how this subversion is commodified by the media industry. Specifically, this study investigates the portrayal of women in selected Dove’s Real Beauty campaign video advertisements targeted towards women that supposedly break stereotypes, and how the “empowerment” portrayed in these depictions is exploited by advertisers for profit.

The following are the objectives of this study: (1) discuss the concepts of commodity feminism and femvertising; (2) enumerate and describe the different portrayals of women in the selected advertisements, (3) distinguish and categorize the portrayals in terms of empowerment and subversion to gender stereotypes, and (4) examine how feminism, as an advocacy, and the empowerment portrayed in the advertisements are commodified.

This study gathered and selected video advertisements that target women. Guided by a feminist perspective, textual analysis is used to examine the image of women in each advertisement. Semiotic analysis is applied in the analysis of these images and the extraction of the themes within the advertisements that go against traditional portrayals of women. A political economic framework is utilized to establish these images within the context of commercialization—that ultimately, these advertisements aim to profit from their audience, despite the “empowering” themes within them.

Keywords: commodity feminism, femvertising, semiotics, political economy

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