By Asia Nelson
A primary, and sadly effective, marketing strategy employed in advertising is to play on a consumer’s insecurities in order to persuade them to purchase a product. Sexism is commonly associated with this form of advertising as women are often reduced to either stick-thin sex objects or domestic housewives who only cook and clean. We are exposed to this sexist marketing on a daily basis and sometimes do not even recognize that we are being manipulated by it until it is too late. These advertisements negatively influence our attitudes toward our appearance and in turn diminish our self-worth. Furthermore, they serve to reinforce social expectations of beauty and perpetuate traditional gender roles.
One woman, Nancy Lynne Kanter, author of several articles, speeches, and novels and holder of a master’s degree in social psychology, has sought to cheekily expose the world to the blatant sexism used in marketing campaigns through her “Purple Paper Project.” As she puts it, “advertising is a one-way form of communication in which powerful corporations try to persuade us to spend our money by manipulating our insecurity. The “Purple Paper Project” is about turning this into a two-way conversation. Consumers have powerful voices too, and it’s about time that we started talking back.” This project emphasizes the powerful role of the consumer and gives real people a chance to speak out against marketing campaigns and their perpetuation of sexist attitudes by posting their thoughts directly onto advertisements. Nancy then uploads the advertisements and their sassy comments to her blog http://beautyisinside.com/purple/ for all to see.
This brilliant project challenges society’s ideas of traditional gender roles in advertising and has the potential to empower women to take back and preserve their dignity and self-worth. At the very least, this project has raised awareness about the dangers of sexist advertising to our society and has given an outlet for the contesting of such marketing strategies. On a larger scale however, the “Purple Paper Project” gives women an opportunity to take control of their own lives and happiness. By undermining these advertisements and giving women a voice in their consumerism, this project has begun to push the boundaries of society’s standards of women. Speaking out against sexism is only the beginning of our journey toward social equality between men and women and the “Purple Paper Project” allows us to capitalize on an opportunity for progress. It gives women the confidence to speak their minds and be rewarded for their intellect rather than their bodies. Moreover, as women overcome the influence of sexist advertisements on their attitudes, they are able to focus on things aside from appearance and social expectations and rise above the stereotypes of their gender to new heights of achievement.
Though the “Purple Paper Project” is relatively new, I expect it to gain prominence in time and I encourage everyone to check out its progress so far or even send in an advertisement of your own. I also highly recommend visiting the other aspects of Nancy’s blog http://beautyisinside.com/ as it further seeks to promote the equality of women similar to our own Love/Shove posts.