Creation of femininity in Japanese televised “beauty ads”
Traditional values, kawaii cuteness, and a dash of feminism
Keywords:gender, advertising, kawaii, beauty, ideology
Advertising is a powerful tool that encapsulates and reinforces gender ideologies through the repeated presentation of stereotyped visions of femininity. In response to societal change, however, advertising has recently begun to incorporate postfeminist ideals of ‘power femininity’ alongside traditional gender stereotypes (Lazar 2014). In Japan, this duality is further complicated by the dominant spread of kawaii‘cuteness’, which has become a crucial feature of normative femininity. The present work demonstrates the importance of investigating Japanese television advertisements to uncover the layered nature of women’s portrayals, which blend traditional gender roles and the reigning contemporary ideology of kawaii, along with sporadic infusions of postfeminist values. Based on quantitative and qualitative multi-modal discourse analysis, this article examines the use of women’s language and visual images in 50 Japanese televised ‘beauty ads,’ exploring the tactics they use to maintain and promulgate an idealized but powerless femininity of kawaii.
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