2014 has proven to be a pretty cool and empowering year for women…so much so, that it’s kind of starting to creep me out. There have been tons of ads going around referencing the power of girls and women, and re-asserting everything we can do. I'm happy about this, buuuuut I am a little concerned about the agencies behind some of these viral videos. Are they really 100% invested in the wellbeing of women, or are they jumping on some kind of viral bandwagon to get in on the internet feminism that has become so popular?
Let's take a closer look at the ads:
The video features Queen Latifah, Ellen DeGeneres, Sofia Vergara, Katy Perry, Janelle Monae and Natalie Wiebe. They certainly covered their bases with the diversity of women involved buuuuuuut, they are also a makeup company. So whatever they are saying really comes back to what they are selling -- which encourages women to chronically feel the need to improve and sustain their good looks.
Pantene’s ad went viral after portraying a reversal of gender inequality in the workplace, and the challenges ambitious women face. It is totally beautiful and inspiring, but insinuates that you better have hella flawless shiny locks while you rule the world. Also, it's kind of basic. Think about it. They lean heavily on Sandberg's Lean In style of feminism, which relies on placing yourself as a woman into roles men have previously held. While this is obvi. a goal, it's not really dismantling the systems as they stand, allowing them to remain hierarchical and problematic. Also, using a new shampoo will not end gender inequality, so let's hesitate just a bit on a standing-o for Pantene.
Lean In #banbossy
Lean In began as a movement fueled by the book of the same title by Sheryl Sandberg. Lean In strongly advocates empowering women, and their stock-photo project was pretty awesome. But bossy really doesn’t make us flinch, and it's definitely already been reclaimed by many unapologetic boss ladies. Why not use the star power of Sanberg, Beyonce, Jennifer Garner, and Condoleezza Rice to raise awareness about other issues, like the constant war against women's health or sex trafficking? Leadership development in girls is very important, but the issues is larger than a word change.
What do you think? Have you noticed a rise in advertisements that are (maybe falsely) empowering to women? And what about the companies behind these advertisements? Are they actively supporting gender equality in their workplaces or boardrooms? Do they support woman-friendly policies, or make ethical choices regarding manufacturing conditions, as to not exploit gender inequity in other countries? The list could go on and on.
There is much more than meets the eye with these ads. So stay skeptical!