Gender Stereotypes in Advertisements and Their Impact on Mental Health

Gender Stereotypes in Advertisements and Their Impact on Mental Health

The act of assigning to a specific woman or man particular traits or duties only because she or he belongs to the social group of women or men is known as gender stereotyping. It is a generalised belief or preconception about the traits or qualities that men and women should or should not have, or about the roles that men and women should or should not play. Market research and advertising are all part of the process or business of marketing and selling goods or services. Advertisements that feature stereotyped gender roles and displays are referred to as gender advertisements. Some academics contend that advertisers are preoccupied with gender because gender roles are established through the extensive use of gender displays in advertising. Because individuals define themselves by their gender and because gender can be “communicated at a glance,” advertisers often focus on gender connections in their work.

Researchers from the field of psychology to those in the field of marketing have looked at how advertisements affect how people feel about their bodies. “These days, we are aware of the connection between the media and body image. Our perception of our bodies is particularly influenced by the body images that advertising promotes. Of course, there are a lot of other factors, such as upbringing, education, close connections, and so on, that affect how we feel about our bodies. However, the mainstream media does have a significant influence. This is due to the hundreds of advertisements— including those for clothing, cosmetics, weight loss, and physical fitness—that promote physical attractiveness and beauty.

Advertising Strategy

In today’s culture, media and advertising have also assumed a strategic role. A transformation message approach rather than an information message strategy has a greater impact on the behavioural intention of women. A man’s behavioural intention, on the other hand, is more of an information messaging technique than a behavioural goal. Rarely do advertisements include individuals who resemble “us” or the majority. Women are fragile, emaciated, and frequently “touched up” to make them appear slimmer and faultless. Rarely do the target audiences for advertising resemble the models depicted in the ads themselves. Self-efficacy and behavioural intention are processed emotionally by females rather than intellectually by males. Consumer effectiveness and messaging approach substantially influenced self-efficacy, which is another gender difference that has been seen. These results demonstrate how gender is portrayed in media and advertising.

According to research, there are four distinctive and independent components. Physical traits (hair length, body height), role behaviours (leadership, child care), personality descriptors (self-assertion, concern for others), and vocational position (truck driver, primary school teacher, housewife) are among them. Each element comes in both a male and female form. When stereotypes produce expectations and judgements that limit a social category’s members’ access to chances in life, stereotyping becomes problematic. Public policy is concerned about marketing practices that encourage stereotypes for this reason. Each aspect of a gender stereotype has the potential to have negative effects that limit chances in life, especially for women. Physical traits can diminish one’s sense of self-worth, role behaviours can limit one’s prospects for personal growth, and gender stereotypes in the workplace can harm women’s careers.

Role of Gender in Advertising

It is suggested that a wide variety of social cues, even the most subtly expressed ones, may be taught to the viewers through these visuals. Furthermore, it is asserted that advertising teaches children about gender relations. The gender roles of femininity and masculinity are examples of these learnt roles. In ads, men and women are represented in accordance with the preconceived notions of femininity and masculinity. Being a woman entails being feminine, and being a man entails being macho. Except within the more constrained parameters of specialised marketing, there is limited potential for diversity or a role reversal.

Masculinity in Advertising

Men are frequently represented in the following ways in advertising:

  • Aware of their surroundings and alert
  • Standing rigidly
  • Active and scanning surroundings
  • Bodies are under control
  • Angry look on the face
  • Holding something tightly in the hands
  • Hand in the pocket
  • Serious
  • Active in sport

Examples of “manly” attributes that are frequently praised include bravery, intrepidity, the capacity for reasoned thought, strength, and effectiveness. The capacity for original thought and initiative are both important. The powerful, quiet Marlboro guy and military advertisements encouraging young men to be “all you can be” are examples of media representations that reinforce these behaviours.

Femininity in Advertisements

Advertising stereotypes of women: Caressing oneself or an item

  • Lying on the ground
  • Sitting down on a chair or bed
  • Closed eyes
  • Not conscious
  • Confused
  • Vulnerable
  • Holding a man or an item as a support
  • Seductive
  • Careless

These are stances of weakness and submission. Men depict women literally as being under them when they see women laying on the ground with males standing above them. The pursuit of beauty and sex appeal is encouraged for women, and part of the sex appeal is subordination. Currently, there are efforts that are working to improve how women are regarded, such as the Girl Effect Campaign. These initiatives seek to take back the phrase “like a girl.”

The body – and particularly here the female body – is always inevitably controlled by social norms and the commodification of the body through industries such as fashion and beauty that exhibit femininity.

Impact on Mental Health

Gender role stereotypes in advertisements might influence the way men and women exhibit psychological discomfort and deal with unpleasant feelings that have an impact on their well-being. Gender role expectations for men, which promote strength, domination over others, and invulnerability, may encourage men to externalize their grief through physical action. This, in turn, can contribute to a rise in male suicide and homicide rates.

Additionally, this gender role expectation creates a competing one for women, namely the notion that it is typical for females to be able to express their sadness to others with ease. Boys describe more problems related to anger, engage in higher-risk behaviours, and commit suicide more frequently than girls, whereas girls experience suicidal ideation but express their distress by harming their own bodies or developing eating disorders. However, teenage boys and girls, however, may find it difficult to vocally convey their anguish and instead turn to their bodies as a means of coping.

These patterns persist throughout adulthood when more women than men report
experiencing dread, helplessness, and hopelessness, while males are more likely to act in ways that are troublesome for other people.

Breaking Stereotypes

Since the beginning of time, society has established some rules that must be properly adhered to. These standards include a wide range of what is deemed appropriate and proper depending on gender-related attitudes and behaviour. Over time, these standards gave rise to gender stereotypes, which have since turned into a noose. Certain modern advertising campaigns that break the constraints of gender norms advance the spirit of the new, progressive India.

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