Advertisements and Social Appeal: Reshaping of the Twentieth Century American Woman

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Tumpich, Janet L.
American ads; advertisers; consumerism; women's social values and perceived roles; exploiting female beauty; visuals create perceptions; Arts and Humanities
thesis / dissertation description
Americans have been exposed to products and information through various mediums of advertisements. During the early 1900s, American advertisements (ads) increasingly overwhelmed the western world and could be seen in thousands of publications. The early ads featured imagery that depicted the everyday lives of American women, men, and children with the goal of selling products and services. Since women were identified as the primary consumer of the family, product ads often featured imagery of women as homemakers and in circumstances that portrayed them as feminine, and concerned with their appearance or pleasing their man. As the century progressed, and women began to step out of the homemaker stereotype, ads began to market to the “new woman” exploiting her sexuality and an unrealistic view of beauty and body image. The ads of this era, influenced consumers by appealing to their emotions, needs and desires while reshaping the social values and self-expression of women in American society. This paper seeks to shed light on the psychology behind the development of an ad campaign and their influence upon the American consumer.