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Representation of black women in advertisements

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the 'mamMy' caricature

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This figure arose during the years of slavery in the United States, when female African slaves would often do domestic tasks such as cleaning, cooking and nurturing. At the end of the 19th century, advertisers started using the Mammy caricature in ads stereotyping the Mammy as a devoted domestic servant of a white family and became the face of household products, such as food and cleaning supplies

The 'Mammy' caricature

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The advertisement features an African American woman in a maid uniform, smiling and engaging with the General Electric (GE) sink. Her presence and facial expression are cheerful, with a broad smile, suggesting satisfaction and ease of use, implying that the product significantly improves her work conditions

The 'Mammy' caricature

black women associated with animals and wildness

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This advertisement, presumably from the 1980s or early 1990s, is for a fragrance called "Animale" by Suzanne de Lyon.

Black women associated with animals and wildness

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Advertimesement by Moschino of the 2000s

Black women associated with animals and wildness

Black women associated with animals and wildness

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Advertisement of the perfume "Tigress" with the testimonial Lola Falana

'whitening' phenomenon

Some advertisements show how black women’s skin are lighten in order to suit the canonical standards of beauty. It does not matter if the woman is an unknown person or a famous celebrity, they are all subject to the ‘whitening’/’whitewashing’, especially in beauty commercials and ads

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'Whitening' phenomenon

The transition from the left image to the right image implies a transformation or enhancement, suggesting that lighter skin and blonde hair are more desirable or fashionable. The lightening of the skin and change in hair colour may imply that Eurocentric beauty standards (light skin and blonde hair) are being promoted over natural features of people of African descent.

'Whitening' phenomenon

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AVOIDANCE OFAFRO HAIR

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Advertisers also tend to represent black women with straight hair, though it is totally misrepresentative, since no black women have ever born with natural straight hair. Additionally, afro hair has been always avoided/not preferred in advertisements and they also have always been labelled as ‘damaged’, ‘unmanageable’ or ‘unhealthy’, for these reasons a lot of advertisements show how a hair product could change this type of hair, making them look more beautiful in a straight set.

Avoidance of Afro Hair

Filomena Ercolano

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The advertisement is a striking example of how racial stereotypes were used in early 19th century marketing to appeal to white consumers. The visual and textual element work together to create a specific image of domestic bliss and reliability, while simultaneously perpetuating harmful racial stereotypes.

CONCLUSION

The pink background is vibrant and eye-catching, which suggests a playful and youthful energy. Pink also contrasts well with the model’s dark skin tone and the leopard print, making the model stand out even more. The use of gold for the brand name “Moschino” and the subtitle “Cheap and Chic” emphasizes luxury and glamour.

Colour System

The advertisement conveys a controversial message about skin colour and beauty. It suggests that the use of their product will transition the user from a state of sadness and darkness to one of happiness and lightness. While effective in its visual storytelling, it also raises significant ethical concerns regarding the promotion of colorism and the reinforcement of harmful beauty standards

CONCLUSION

The advertisement uses warm and inviting colour palette.

Colour System

  • Yellow and Red (to create homely,comfortable atmosphere)
  • Yellow Background (conveys a sense of happiness and energy)
  • Contrast between the background and the sleek lines of the sink
  • Red crosses as signs of 'stop'
  • Red and balck text on a white background

The central figure of the African American maid, coupled with the non-standard English dialect, is used to create relatability and trust, though it also reinforces racial stereotypes.

CONCLUSION

The image utilizes a combination of text and visual elements to convey messages about different hair types. The semiotic analysis reveals the denotative and connotative meanings of the labels, of how the text, the images, and the layout work together to communicate these messages. This image not only categorizes hair conditions but also reflects and potentially reinforces societal beauty standards, indicating a preference for certain hair types over others.

CONCLUSION

The use of earthy colours, such as the golden hues of the outfit and the brown background, evokes a sense of natural beauty and primal energy. These colours also align with the tiger theme. The stark contrast between the model’s vibrant outfit and the subdued background makes the model stand out, emphasizing her importance and the allure of the fragrance.

Colour System

This image conveys a narrative of transformation and enhancement through the use of the line of appeal of beauty. While it effectively captures attention and aligns with typical beauty advertising strategies, it also raises significant ethical concerns regarding the promotion of Eurocentric beauty standards. The lightening of skin and alteration of hair texture and color suggest that these features are more desirable, perpetuating colorism and reinforcing harmful societal standards of beauty.

CONCLUSION

The retro elements (afro, large hoop earrings, leopard print) combined with modern touches (vibrant colours, chic accessories) suggest a fusion of past and present fashion trends. This mix appeals to consumers’ nostalgia while remaining contemporary and stylish. Afro hair and hoop earrings evoke a sense of cultural pride and retro fashion trends, and the leopard print represents boldness, luxury, and wildness. The Moschino "Cheap and Chic" advertisement effectively uses visual and contextual elements to convey a message of bold, accessible luxury. The confident pose of the model, combined with the vibrant colour scheme and retro fashion elements, creates a resonance that aligns with the brand's playful and eclectic identity.

CONCLUSION

Colour System

  • Yellow Background (positive emotions)
  • Red and Green (worn by the woman)
  • Red, Blue, Gold (colours of the tin)
  • White text against Blue backgruond (high constrast and readability)

The advertisement effectively uses visual and textual elements to convey a message of boldness, energy, and untamed beauty. The exotic makeup, wild hair, and vivid colours all work together to suggest that the fragrance "Animale" by Suzanne de Lyon is for those who want to embrace their wild and natural instincts. The model and the colour scheme work together to create a powerful, cohesive advertisement.

CONCLUSION

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The colour scheme is meticulously chosen to enhance the overall theme and appeal of the product. The predominant colours are green and gold, giving an exotic and vibrant feel.

Colour System

  • Green enhances the sense of nature and wildness. It is a colour associated with nature, vitality and renewal, and here reinfroces the "Animale" theme.
  • Gold adds a touch of luxury and elegance, so implies that the fragrance is premium and high-end