Wearing the pants
When we saw this original 1970s advertisement for Mr. Leggs pants, our blood boiled a little. Who knew so many symbols of hyper-masculinity and downright degradation could fit in the one image? It’s scary stuff. In today’s advertising landscape, demeaning women in such a way is unacceptable – and good riddance! Women are now more empowered and in control. We’re portrayed as fierce leaders who don’t need to put anyone down to make this world our own. In other words, we’re represented far more as we should be.
Team marie claire
Women’s bodies are not one size fits all – contrary to what this 1960s Warner’s slimwear lingerie ad would have you believe. The feminine beauty ideal has (thankfully) changed a lot since women were forced to wear corsets to give them the “perfect” hourglass figure. Now, we expect underwear advertising to embrace women in all their glory, because every size is fun size. In the words of our Queen Lizzo: “No, I’m not a snack at all. Look, baby, I’m the whole damn meal.“ Preach it.
Clean up your act
When we enter into a relationship, we develop a shared reality. Many couples feel like they’re close to parity in the division of labour in the household. But study after study shows women are doing far more than their share and it’s impacting their long-term health and happiness. The sexism of the past was extremely overt – look no further than this 1940s Hoover vacuum directed solely at women (because men don’t vacuum, that’s what wives are for). Today, we acknowledge gender dynamics are much more complex, leading to a more insidious form of inequality. A vacuum cleaner can only make you happier if you use it 50 per cent of the time.
Bygone beauty ads made women feel like they needed make-up for a man’s approval and admiration – take this Seventeen Cosmetics ad from 1947 as an example. Thankfully, most beauty ads nowadays tell a more truthful narrative. We don’t wear make-up for men – or anyone else for that matter. A little touch of our favourite products can help us feel our best, and there’s nothing we can’t achieve when we’re full of self-love. By changing the narrative and imagery used to represent women, advertising can help shift how the world sees us and, most importantly, how we see ourselves.
Put your foot down
Agency: 303 MullenLowe
The world has changed for the better in the almost-50 years since Weyenberg’s last shoe ad. Equality and justice are slowly taking the place of long-held sexist societal attitudes. So with this ad, we imagined what it would look like if a shoe company – who once added to the problem – positioned themselves as a champion for women’s rights. It’s an apology for their past advertising on the one hand, and their line in the sand on the other. It’s time to kick sexism to the kerb.
Cheers to that
Agency: Clemenger BBDO
You'll be happier with a glass of wine because the Hoover 'Tomo' relieves you of one of the crappiest household chores ever invented. You'll be happier because it vacuums all freak'n day and never asks for pocket money. You'll be happier because it vacuums like it's training for the Olympics. But most of all, you'll be happier because you will never again have marketers link your sense of self-worth to some archaic image of domesticity. So why wait any longer, this isn't the damn '50s anymore.
This article originally appeared in the April issue of marie claire.