Disclaimer: This is an example of a student written essay.
Click here for sample essays written by our professional writers.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UKEssays.com.

1920s Advertisement Fabricated a Template for the Female Body for Years to Come

Info: 5151 words (21 pages) Essay
Published: 10th Nov 2021 in Design

Reference this

Design can often shape and impact society in remarkable, unexpected ways. The Art Deco, or style moderne, movement of the 1920s originated as an allusion to technological advancements and societal reform. However, did the slender, linear characteristics associated with the style, and the appearance of these features in advertisements, aid as the driving force of an era of dissatisfaction in women's body image?

Get Help With Your Essay

If you need assistance with writing your essay, our professional essay writing service is here to help!

Essay Writing Service

The early twentieth century was the genesis of advertising as an occupation. Individuals within society began comparing the profession to that of law or architecture.[1] Consequently, advertising agencies began to branch out into major cities and began operating under large bureaucratic firms.[2] Following World War I, the concept of advertising had been drastically refined.[3] According to David Clampin, an advertising and marketing historian, the nature of marketing after 1914 shifted towards mass production and goods that were more affordable to the masses.[4] Prior to the war, sellers relied on romanticism to entice other sellers to bring an abundance of goods to one location.[5] They reused this tactic to advertise the war in an amorous way. Drawing on a sense of excitement and adventure, people created an all-pervasive message that could persuade the average person.[6] This moved society towards a culture of purchasing items for "intimate and emotional reasons, as opposed making purchases through rational, factbased, decisions."[7] During the war, soldiers would write letters to home; these letters would get passed on to local newspapers and get published.[8] In the earlier months of the war, journalists could visit and report directly from the front lines.[9] Although this was short lived, there was a huge increase in newspaper readers as people rushed home to read updates from the front lines. To advertisers, this was an opportunity for them to appeal to new potential customers.[10] In commercial magazines and newspapers, 43% of advertisements began taking up full pages whereas before the 1920s roughly 87% of the ads were partial pages.[11] Art Deco became popular around this time on a global scale. Art Deco was associated with smooth, curving surfaces; geometrical forms such as chevron or zigzags; and long, slim forms. The style was meant to reflect the growth in product production and advancements in machinery.[12] Art Deco was an advancement in design; yet, women found excessive exposure to slender and thin figures which instilled the message that in order to be attractive, you must reflect this ideal. [13]

Figure 1. Before and After Skinny Jeans Photo.

The Art Deco era was defined as unique, elegant, and marked a period of optimism following World War I. The first Art Deco fashion phase was lead by Paul Poiret. Inspired by the dance company, Ballets Russes. As a desire to imitate aspects of the East, he began his different stages of creating this new look. In 1908 he launched a high-waisted line.[14] High-rise pants, when worn correctly, create the illusion of a longer lower body, creating the appearance of an overall slimmer, and leaner body. Figure 1 clearly depicts a women before wearing highrise jeans, where the pants seem to emphasize the bottom of one's stomach, compared to the "After" image where the jeans compresses the  stomach and creates the effect of a higher waist line.The entire purpose of these pants are to create the illusion of a thinner figure. Following the release of his high-waisted line, Poiret put an end to the use of corsets to move away from restrictive undergarments. Echoing the purpose of his high-waisted pants that sought to use clothing itself to alter the image of one's body. However, Poiret was less focused on a hourglass shape, and desired a thin, cylindrical figure. He diverted the emphasis away from tailored clothing, and made dressmaking more about draping. He created garments that emphasize on the basic skills of draping, inspired by Greek chiton, Japanese kimonos, and the North African and Middle Eastern caftan.[15]

Figure 2. Draping a Greek chiton

Greek chitons were most commonly worn by both men and women during the sixth and early fifth centuries B.C.E.[16] This garment was created with a singular rectangular piece of cloth, and depending on how it was draped and wrapped, it would form a kind of tunic for the wearer.17 Figure 2 poses one of the numerous way one could drape their chitons. Poiret drew on these past ideas and combined them with his vision of a "Modern Women," which, to him, was his wife Denise. He created a new style that would effect both fashion and advertisement."Denise. Slim, youthful, and uncorseted, she was the prototype of la garçonne. Poiret used her slender figure as the basis for his radically simplified constructions." [17]

Figure 3 Figure 4

He utilized the image of his wife, Denise, a thin women, and projected that ideal to Vogue and other large, influential fashion platforms.

With the emergence of this new style, women could no longer use undergarments such as corsets to shape their figure. Both Figure 3 and Figure 4 are photos of two of Poiret's dresses. Just from first glance, especially in figure 4, they focus on the natural shape of one's body. This new aesthetic endeavored for women to not use restrictive undergarment to create the image of an unrealistic physique. Nonetheless, while he managed to unlace women from their uncomfortable corsets, the dresses he made were only tailored towards woman with slim and petite features. Both of Poiret's dresses closely resemble those drawn and portrayed on covers of fashion magazines such as Flou, Fashion Plate, Figure 5, and Vogue Magazine, Figure 6.

Figure 5 Figure 6

Both covers are clearly very unrealistic depictions of the human body. The women are almost just skin and bones, portraying a very unrealistic ideal for all women viewing these images, especially in Figure 5.

In Figure 6 the women portrayed in the image is also extremely thin, but the lower half of her dress greatly mimics the Greek chiton style mentioned above. This magazine cover was also created in the Art Deco style, where it's decorative, but still geometrical through the thin linear forms in the back.

With such an overwhelming amount of exposure to advertisement following World War I, women became obsessed with meeting the unfeasible body standard that had been set by society.[18] Even though the 1920s can be seen as an era that liberated women, as they were granted new rights and could embrace a life that was viewed as unconventional by many, stressing over their public image restricted women from truly redefining their roles in society.[19] Restricted by a mold of expectations created by mass advertising the pressure to be slim encouraged new, unhealthy eating habits.

The propaganda advertisers of the past put out lead to a culture of exposure to unattainable body standards through media, causing body image dissatisfaction for decades to come. Based on a more recent study done by the meta-analytic review in 2008, 57% of the experimental studies resulted in a strong correlation between thin-ideal media and body dissatisfaction in women.[20] A women's reflection on her body image would become more and more negative upon being exposed to media portraying slender and slim figures. Similar pressure arose in other areas of advertising. For example, exposure to images of cars or houses would result in unchanged levels of self-esteem but would affect their individuals living ideals: whether they had a house or car. Whereas when women were shown average-sized and plus-sized models, they often resulted in feeling unchanged levels of self-esteem. When met with the dissatisfaction with their bodies, women often internalize the negative effect of society's body ideals. Research has shown that this leads to dieting, excessive exercise after eating, restrictive eating habits, binging, and purging which are all behaviors that correlate with eating disorder behavior.[21] Also, when women learn to reduce their internalization of body standards, it increases their selfesteem.[22] Even in modern society, mass media continues to encourage young girls to conform to an ideal figure just to be accepted by society. Kilbourne, a activist known for her work done with women in advertising, also believes their through her TEDxLafayetteCollege presentation where she said:

"…theres not way to measure up to this impossible ideal. The self-esteem of girls in America often plummets when they reach adolescence. Girls tend to feel fine about themselves when they're 8, 9, 10 years old, but then they hit adolescence and they often hit a wall."[23]

Unrealistic and idealized images facilitate self-comparison among women, resulting in an upward shift of individuals' personal image expectations. [24]

Over the years, advertising has evolved, yet the same underlying message communicated to a generation of women remains. In 1979, Jean Kilbourne created her first film, and among her collage were ads saying, "Feminine odor is everyone's problem." (Figure 7) This was an advertisement for deodorant. "If your hair isn't beautiful, the rest hardly matters." (Figure 8) Advertisement for Pantene hairspray. "I'd probably never be married now, if I hadn't lost 49 pounds." (Figure 9) An ad for weight loss. [25]

Figure 7 Figure 8

In these ads, especially in Figures 7 and 8, these quotes are printed exceptionally large, used as the heading of their advertisement. By strategically creating a disputable title, they can then present their product as the solution to whatever feeling the viewer got from viewing the ad.

Figure 9

The nature of advertisement has matured into weaponized propaganda, ensuring that women perpetually exist in a psychological state of inferiority. A women's subconscious then motivates them to purchase products previously advertised to them in efforts to ameliorate these feelings and desires. Men and women are carefully studied by advertisers, resulting in the production of propaganda that portrays these firm's unique ideals for each group. While men may suffer from meeting societal desires and expectations, ads targeting men often advocate aberrant sexual conduct, depicting sexuality without a relationship, and even abuse. [26] Needless to say, most men are not deviant, yet the ads often encourage young and impressionable men to conform to these depictions. This portrayal of men places a significant strain on a women's interpretation of all men. In the early 20th century, the marketing industry was blatantly sexist. Following the saying "sex sells", they would often create sexist advertisements.[27] Although more subliminal in modern-day society, the long-lasting culture of internalized sexism has made women turn against one another. This is profoundly dangerous, as advertising has the power to create a culture where consent becomes trivialized, and women are turned into a sexual object. This can easily blur the lines between sexual liberation and having your sexuality exploited to sell a product. It creates hyper-masculinity and rape culture, body shaming, slut-shaming, and transphobia. It causes lowself esteem, further encouraging eating disorders and body dysmorphia.[28]

As we move forward, traditional advertising will dissipate. In the past, the goal of advertisements was to create appealing visuals and text; they didn't have to do more than simply look good and appeal to a consumers emotions. This was the reality of Advertisement, especially following the increase in popularity of the television. However, with even newer technological advancements, we now have more power and access to information at our fingertips than ever before. Emphasis has now been placed on design research, as the functionality of the product has become the advertisement itself. For example, Amazon, the world's biggest online retailer, often doesn't include persuasive text within every image of each product being sold. Design and advertisement is now about how something actually works and less about promises.

In summary, throughout the history of advertising, firms have portrayed women at unrealistic standards, inspired by an era of design focused on thin-ideals, which has driven the dissatisfaction of women's body image. Women, especially adolescents, have been exposed to advertisements that portray fake complexions that originate from historically significant designers such as Poiret. Such images unfortunately help them develop a learned helplessness where they believe they will never be beautiful or in shape compared to these fake models. On a broader spectrum, women of all ages feel forced to purchase items that make them look more attractive to meet the standards of men and even other women. With regards to men, they have watch these same advertisements and have grow up having expectations that women have to look a certain way and that if they don't, they are inferior to other women who do meet, or at least try to meet, impossible beauty. Advertising firms have undeniably contributed to the insecurities that women and men have through multiple mediums and industries, especially the beauty industry.

Bibliography

"Commercial Advertising as Propaganda in World War One." The British Library. The British Library, December 9, 2013. https://www.bl.uk/world-war-one/articles/commercial-advertisingas-propaganda.

"News from the Front." The British Library. The British Library, December 9, 2013. https:// www.bl.uk/world-war-one/articles/news-from-the-front.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed., "Art Deco" Accessed October 21, 2019, https:// www.encyclopedia.com/literature-and-arts/art-and-architecture/art-general/art-deco

"Women's Self-Worth & Body Image in the 1920's." Developing Perspective of Women in US History 1870 to Present, March 2, 2012. https://blogs.lt.vt.edu/rslabach/2012/03/02/womens-selfworth-body-image-in-the-1920s/.

"Art Nouveau and Art Deco." Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion. Encyclopedia.com, November 30, 2019. https://www.encyclopedia.com/fashion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcriptsand-maps/art-nouveau-and-art-deco.

"Doric Chiton." Fashion Encyclopedia. Accessed December 10, 2019. http:// www.fashionencyclopedia.com/fashion_costume_culture/The-Ancient-World-Greece/DoricChiton.html.

Hughes, James. "How Advertisers Used World War I to Sell, Sell, Sell." The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company, August 6, 2014. https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/08/howadvertisers-used-world-war-i-to-sell-sell-sell/375665/.

Jean Kilbourne, "The Dangerous Ways Ads See Women." Filmed May 2014 the TEDx Lafayette College Conference, TED video, 15.50, https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=Uy8yLaoWybk

Kim, Jung-Hwan and Sharron J. Lennon "Mass Media and Self-Esteem, Body Image, and Eating Disorder Tendencies" Clothing & Textiles Research Journal 25, no. 1 (2007).

Koda, Harold, and Andrew Bolton. "Paul Poiret (1879–1944)." In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/ hd/poir/hd_poir.htm (September 2008)

Mason, Sara E. "Ohio Link." Ohio Link, May 2012. https://etd.ohiolink.edu/!etd.send_file? accession=dayton1335295760&disposition=inline.

Peck, Emily. "Advertisers Are Actually Teaming Up To Fight Sexism. For Real." HuffPost. HuffPost, June 20, 2017. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/advertising-sexism-unstereotypealliance_n_59482fa0e4b07499199ddfeb.

"Poiret: King of Fashion." metmuseum.org. Accessed December 1, 2019. https:// www.metmuseum.org/exhibitions/listings/2007/poiret.

Polly, Richard W. "The Subsiding Sizzle: A Descriptive History of Print Advertising, 1900-1980." Journal of Marketing (Pre-1986). Vol. 49 (1985): 24

Pope, Daniel. The Making of Modern Advertising. New York: Basic Books, 1983.

Sandoiu, Ana. "How Does Social Media Use Affect Our Body Image?" Medical News Today. MediLexicon International. Accessed December 2, 2019. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/ articles/323725.php#4.

Visual Bibliography

Figure 1: End 'Muffin Top' with Asda's 'Bum and Tum' jeans. Digital Image. ShoppersBase. February 13, 2013. Accessed December 5, 2019. www.shoppersbase.com

Figure 2: Ancient Greek Fashion. Digital Image. Hellenicaworld. Accessed December 7, 2019. http:// www.hellenicaworld.com.

Figure 3: Poiret, Paul. "Pré Catelan." Digital Image. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1918. Accessed November 30, 2019. www.metmuseum.org

Figure 4: Poiret, Paul. "Irudree." Digital Image. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1922. Accessed November 30, 2019. www.metmuseum.org

Figure 5: Historic Fashion Periodicals at Les Arts Décoratifs. "Paris – Flou, Fashion Plate" Digital Image. WGSN Insider. February 10, 2012. Accessed November 29, 2019. www.wgsn.com

Figure 6: Historic Fashion Periodicals at Les Arts Décoratifs. "French Vogue." Digital Image. WGSN Insider. November 1, 1925. Accessed November 29, 2019. www.wgsn.com

Figure 7: How Gendered Advertising is Creating a Generation of Stereotypes. "Feminine Odor is Everyone's Problem." Digital Image. Norwich-Eaton Pharmaceutical. April 8, 2018. Accessed November 28, 2019. rockymendola.wordpress.com

Figure 8: How Gendered Advertising is Creating a Generation of Stereotypes. "If Your Hair Isn't Beautiful, the Rest Hardly Matters." Digital Image. The Pantene Company. April 8, 2018. Accessed November 28, 2019. rockymendola.wordpress.com

Figure 9: The Kokomo Tribune from Kokomo, Indiana. "The Kokomo Tribune." Digital Image. Newspapers. May 18, 1969. Accessed November 30, 2019. www.newspapers.com


[1] Daniel Pope, The Making of Modern Advertising (New York: Basic Books), 175

[2] Ibid., 175-177

[3] Ibid., 185

[4] "Commercial Advertising as Propaganda in World War One." The British Library. The British Library, December 9, 2013. https://www.bl.uk/world-war-one/articles/commercial-advertising-as-propaganda.

[5] Ibid.,

[6] Ibid.,

[7] Ibid.,

[8] "News from the Front." The British Library. The British Library, December 9, 2013. https://www.bl.uk/world-warone/articles/news-from-the-front.

[9] Ibid.,

[10] "Commercial Advertising as Propaganda in World War One." The British Library. The British Library, December 9, 2013. https://www.bl.uk/world-war-one/articles/commercial-advertising-as-propaganda.

[11] Richard W Polly, "The Subsiding Sizzle: A Descriptive History of Print Advertising, 1900-1980." Journal of Marketing (Pre-1986). Vol. 49 (1985): 24

[12] The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed., "Art Deco" Accessed October 21, 2019, https:// www.encyclopedia.com/literature-and-arts/art-and-architecture/art-general/art-deco

[13] Jung-Hwan Kim and Sharron J. Lennon "Mass Media and Self-Esteem, Body Image, and Eating Disorder Tendencies" Clothing & Textiles Research Journal 25, no. 1 (2007). 4.

[14] "Art Nouveau and Art Deco." Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion. Encyclopedia.com, November 30, 2019.

[15] "Poiret: King of Fashion." metmuseum.org. Accessed December 1, 2019. https://www.metmuseum.org/ exhibitions/listings/2007/poiret.

[16] "Art Nouveau and Art Deco." Encyclopedia of Clothing and Fashion. Encyclopedia.com, November 30, 2019. 17 Ibid.,

[17] Harold Koda and Andrew Bolton. "Paul Poiret (1879–1944)." In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/poir/hd_poir.htm (September 2008)

[18] "Women's Self-Worth & Body Image in the 1920's." Developing Perspective of Women in US History 1870 to Present, March 2, 2012. https://blogs.lt.vt.edu/rslabach/2012/03/02/womens-self-worth-body-image-in-the-1920s/.

[19] Ibid.,

[20] Sara E Mason. "Ohio Link." Ohio Link, May 2012. accession=dayton1335295760&disposition=inline.

[21] Jung-Hwan Kim and Sharron J. Lennon "Mass Media and Self-Esteem, Body Image, and Eating Disorder Tendencies" Clothing & Textiles Research Journal 25, no. 1 (2007).

[22] Ibid.,

[23] Jean Kilbourne, "The Dangerous Ways Ads See Women." Filmed May 2014 the TEDxLafayetteCollege Conference, TED video, 15.50, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uy8yLaoWybk

[24] Jung-Hwan Kim and Sharron J. Lennon "Mass Media and Self-Esteem, Body Image, and Eating Disorder Tendencies" Clothing & Textiles Research Journal 25, no. 1 (2007).

[25] Jean Kilbourne, "The Dangerous Ways Ads See Women." Filmed May 2014 the TEDxLafayetteCollege

Conference, TED video, 15.50, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uy8yLaoWybk

[26] Ibid.,

[27] Emily Peck. "Advertisers Are Actually Teaming Up To Fight Sexism. For Real." HuffPost. HuffPost, June 20, 2017. https://www.huffpost.com/entry/advertising-sexism-unstereotype-alliance_n_59482fa0e4b07499199ddfeb.

[28] Ibid.,

 

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.

Related Services

View all

DMCA / Removal Request

If you are the original writer of this essay and no longer wish to have your work published on UKEssays.com then please: