Tom Ford Media Analysis – Erica Miller

Erica Miller

GSS 101

7 February 2016

Professor Gonzalez

Media Analysis: Tom Ford

            Tom Ford utilizes stereotypical gender roles to promote his latest line of eyewear. In the print advertisement, Tom Ford depicts the different genders in their clichéd form. This not only strengthens gender ideals enforced since childhood but also reiterates these ideas to grown individuals.

The Tom Ford ad was originally published in Elle magazine, which is catered towards ‘Fashion-forward’ individuals. Tom Ford is a high-end label that only the upper-middle, to upper class could afford. This advertisement is intended to educate men on the proper way to dress to obtain an ‘ideal female.’ It also insinuates that by wearing Tom Ford eyeglasses, a man achieves a look of ‘ideal masculinity.’

One of the main issues is how the ‘ideal woman’ is portrayed. She is a white, heterosexual female, who is lean, but also shapely in the right areas. In addition, she is portrayed as being completely obedient to her male partners demands, ironing his clothing before even putting on her own. This advertisement also misrepresents the majority of men by arguing that the ‘model’ male is a Caucasian heterosexual, who dresses in a suit and bowties. He is also perfectly groomed, and his suit appears to be wrinkle free, which we can assume is from the female’s efforts. The underlying message that this conveys is that men are superior to women, and biologically dominant to the female body. As he is reading the paper, participating in outside work and connecting to the world, the female is expected focus completely on satisfying the male and staying inside the sphere of her home. While ironing his clothes, she is staring intently at the man, although she is receiving no attention back from him. This sends the message that she is completely reliant on him and his approval.

The image of the naked female holds a lot of underlying patriarchal messages. The use of the old-fashioned iron that appears to be from the forties encourages the cult of domesticity and retaining the image of the female in the household that was strongly held in that time period. Although she did not have time to put on clothes, she did have time to fix her hair, apply makeup, put on jewelry, and strap on high heels. This strengthens the cultural idea that females must always look presentable regardless of the time or circumstance. This idea of this woman’s physical perfection strengthens the social norms that promote feminine perfection, and discourage anything that falls short.

Without specific assumed social norms, this advertisement would fall apart and would not succeed in grabbing the attention of the majority of the American public. By displaying the man as an educated, work-driven individual, it reinforces the idea that men are ‘too good’ for housework, and that the woman’s position is in the house. In addition, the female is seen as having housework as her number two duty, right behind her number one duty of pleasing her man. It is also presumed in this advertisement that white, upper class, and ‘beautiful’ individuals dominate the professional sphere. Sexually, the advertisement appeals to the cis-gender, heterosexual audience. The advertisement promotes the idea that having the ‘ideal’ body type will in turn, attract the ‘ideal’ man. This also promotes the idea that cis-gender individuals, specifically cis-gender men, dominate the professional field.

This piece should appeal to the white male in the work force, and encourage him to purchase Tom Ford eyewear. It also promotes the idea that successful individuals, and white-collar workers will own their own pair of Tom Ford glasses. If one wants to obtain the ‘luxurious’ lifestyle, one would assume from this advertisement that they needed to purchase Tom Ford eyewear.

This advertisement would be highly effective for the working, upper class, male spectrum. However, as females have begun participating in the feminist movement, many have started realizing issues with promoting the patriarchy. By creating Tom Ford advertisements like this, women are completely objectified and devalued as human beings. Instead of being appreciated as humans in society, they are viewed as personal servants for the working male that supports them. In response to the backlash received from publishing of this ad, Elle magazine pulled it from publication, and “banned its printing due to inappropriate images that may be seen as degrading to women” (www.elle.com).

Tom Ford capitalizes on societies way of thinking to create an ad that appeals to the majority of Americans by focusing on expected gender, racial, and sexual norms. However, the complete objectification of these roles has lead to major pushback from feminists, resulting in the discontinuance of this specific advertisement from being printed. Although it was created to appeal to the general audience, it has instead raised awareness of the problems of objectifying women, and assuming these broad social norms.

 

Works Cited

“Cara Delevingne’s Tom Ford Ad Gets Banned.” ELLE. Elle Magazine, 30 Apr. 2015. Web. 07 Feb. 2016.

3 thoughts on “Tom Ford Media Analysis – Erica Miller

  1. This ad reminds me of the Robin Thicke “Blurred Lines” video, which also featured nude women and clothed men (and a song that essentially celebrates “date rape” i.e. rape. It’s still startling that somebody thought this glossy high fashion version of v1940s and 50s images of subordinate women in the domestic sphere was a good idea–see Rachael’s examples of these. As you point out, the great thing about explicitly sexist things like this is the feminist outcry, and the ways that it can mobilize popular thinking and conversation.

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