Public Voices: Skincare Advertising and Discourses of “Beauty”
This chapter explores society’s views about female beauty and ageing as represented through the lens of beauty and cosmetic advertising. Using multimodal analysis, representations of ‘culturally approved’ (i.e. youthful/beautiful) models of femininity are explored through a range of anti-ageing skincare advertisements aimed at both women and men, and contrasted with the problematisation of the ageing appearance through fear-based descriptions of the visible signs of ageing. The different communicative approaches evident in female versus male-targeted advertising texts is used to highlight the gendered nature of cultural attitudes towards female and male ageing. The emergence of counter-discourses such as the Dove and Boots campaigns are considered and challenged in the light of postfeminist perspectives on discourses of apparent self-acceptance. The chapter concludes by summarising key themes: the continuing cultural premium placed on youthfulness; and the pathologisation of the visible signs of ageing in skincare advertising aimed at women, compared to a very different communicative approach taken to male-targeted advertisements, where signs of ageing are acceptable—even positively evaluated.
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