A Text I have Read  

Lazar, M. M. (2006) Discover the Power of Femininity! Analyzing global “power femininity” in local advertising. Feminist Media Studies

This research employed a discourse analytical approach that pays specific attention to global beauty advertisements and how their aestheticizaton of women’s appearance have generated a space whereby previous power structures, that relate to femininity, within feminist discourse, are challenged. For instance, Lazar blends feminist, postfeminist and consumer discourse, showing how the notion of “having it all” aligns with a post-feminist sensibility that women have achieved equality and are thus able to revel in all things feminine, including their intrinsic desire for self-improvement.

Some of the key themes addressed within this study are

  • Empowered beauty: this is when the term empowerment is used as a buzzword to sell beauty products such as face cream, clothing, shoes and makeup.
  • Knowledge as power; taking courses on feminine education, gaining empowerment through “professionally” taking control of one’s own beauty – hair, makeup, wax, shave
  • Agentive Power –ties women’s empowerment to consumerism due to how adverts have had women expressing their control, “x product has given me the freedom to be myself”) other ads have given women a militaristic tone that projects masculine dominance and a sort of alpha female persona.
  • Sexual Power – buzzwords such as “seduce”, “sexy” and “intoxicate” are used to sell products to women who are of a heteronormative stature. These images are almost a “permission granted” and a space for women realise their sexual power. For instance, sexual power, as displayed in advertisements, is showcasing the power women have over men. From this, sexually dominant women are displayed as manipulating the subject / object role as she objectifies him and taking physical control over his body,

The elements of empowered femininity that have arisen within study are suggesting women as taking on the project of self, for self. This is useful to my project due to how postfeminists are reclaiming the practice of beauty empowerment as a project of self, yet this directly contests feminist idea of purchasable femininity, whereby women are being sold products they don’t need in order to meet an unrealistic and false aesthetic of woman. This tension, in relation to my research, could bring about many more questions for me with regards to objects. I am left questioning why empowerment is attached to objects. Why is a woman’s efficiency, intelligence, and ability to project herself confidently all connected to consumption of beauty products? If the project of self is truly the project of self, why do we need something other than self to realise it? The most prominent question, however, is if the empowered woman sits within the postfeminist category of agency, why is she still competing with men? Why are women are expected to “do power” more effectively, more like a man. Furthermore, if the “alpha female” is working so hard on the project of self, it would be beneficial to understand why her empowerment is still connected to her sexuality?

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Full Reference

Lazar, M. M. (2006) Discover the Power of Femininity! Analyzing global “power femininity” in local advertising. Feminist Media Studies, 6 (4), pp.505-517, [Online] DOI: 10.1080/14680770600990002