University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Post-feminist Advertising Laid Bare: Young Women’s Talk About the Sexually Agentic Woman of ‘Midriff’ Advertising

Malson, H., Halliwell, E., Tischner, Irmgard and Rudolfsdottir, A. (2011) Post-feminist Advertising Laid Bare: Young Women’s Talk About the Sexually Agentic Woman of ‘Midriff’ Advertising. Feminism & Psychology, 21 (1). pp. 74-99. ISSN 0959-3535

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This paper presents a feminist Foucauldian analysis of women’s interpretations of images
of women in post-feminist advertising. Building on Ros Gill’s analysis of post-feminist
advertising images of women, and more specifically the figure of ‘the midriff’, the paper
presents an analysis of focus group discussions with seven young women who were
asked to discuss ‘midriff’ advertising images. Whilst participants sometimes construed
these images positively as ‘sexy’ and independent, midriff figures were more frequently
constituted negatively as ‘bimbos’ and/or ‘slutty’ ‘sex objects’ whose seeming independence
was achieved through or limited only to attracting men. In interpreting midriff
figures negatively, participants, we suggest, constituted the midriff as other; as different
and distant from themselves and ‘normal’ women. Where occasionally participants
interpreted images more favourably, the midriff figure was, in contrast, constituted as
‘normal’ and ‘natural’ and as being about ‘what she likes, not what he likes’. Participants
did not identify themselves or their arguments as feminist. Nevertheless, they articulated
critiques of these images which often converged significantly with critical feminist
analyses. Our analysis suggests, therefore, that young women read these images in complex ways. These complexities of interpretation, we argue, should be central in
understanding the relationships between women, bodies and post-feminist images of
women’s bodies.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information:

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Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: advertising, discourse, midriff figures, post-feminism, reading, women
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: College of Business, Psychology and Sport > School of Psychology
Depositing User: Irmgard Tischner
Date Deposited: 27 Nov 2012 09:54
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 16:58

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