Friday, August 5, 2011

Jewelry: Reinforcing Stereotypes

One of the largest jewelry companies in America, Zales, has jumped onto the band wagon of companies that reinforce gender stereotypes. Zales advertisements for jewelry for women and their advertisements for men are drastically different. Male watches are advertised using connections to strength and celebrities where women’s jewelry is advertised as a way for women to attach to a man. Zales jewelry reinforces the stereotypes that women should be weak and men should be strong.

Women today find themselves under multiple pressures from media and pop culture. One example of these pressures is the need for a man. Zales Jewelry enforces this idea in every jewelry commercial for women. In each commercial you find, instead of a woman buying her own jewelry, a man buying her the gift. In The Cult of Thinness, Hesse-Biber explains one woman’s dilemma, “Delia’s upbringing and environment defined success differently. She was not interested in earning $500,000 a year, but in marrying the guy who does.” (Hesse-Biber 18) Success for women, according to Zales, is to get a guy who can buy you jewelry, not to be able to buy jewelry yourself. These advertisements promote the idea of women’s dependence on men. With women being dependent on men, Zales shows a world where women will always be weaker than men.

Citizen, a watch company commonly sold at Zales, has a different approach on how to sell their lineup of men’s watches. Citizen has taken their watches and put them on celebrities and sports stars to reinforce the idea of power behind their watch. The advertisements which do not include celebrities will picture a man wearing the watch as very wealthy. Citizen’s logo, however, is the ultimate stereotype, “Unstoppable.” This connection between being unstoppable and the man wearing the watch in the advertisements pushes the idea that if you purchase this watch you can obtain a man’s true dream, strength and power. Sut Jhally, in his article on image-based culture, states, “ads draw heavily upon the domain of gender display – not the way that men and women actually behave but the ways in which we think men and women behave.” (Jhally 253) Citizen is drawing on the common connection of men with power. With this they can sell their watch because men will believe this watch will make them appear strong, which is what society expects of them.

Works Cited
Jhally, Sut. "Image-Based Culture: Advertising & Popular Culture." Gender Race and Class in Media. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2003. 249-57. Print.

Hesse-Biber, Sharlene. The Cult of Thinness. Second Edition. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2007. Print.

Images Used