Do Fashion Ads Make Sex Suck?

There have been countless studies showing that fashion advertisements have effected people’s self-esteem, but could fashion ads be effecting your love life and relationships? What about your sex life?

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Let’s talk about the one thing everyone seems to agree on in terms of fashion advertisements– the affects on self-esteem. There have been countless studies and research done to show that these ads do make people have a lower self-esteem because people are subconsciously (or even consciously in some cases) comparing themselves to the people in the ads; but there has been a recent study by professors at the University of Michigan and the University of Manitoba showing that it depends on the advertisement. Ads that have blatant displays of female idealization– so, makeup ads for example– make women feel better about themselves because they consciously realize what the ad is trying to do. But other ads that feature beautiful people but in a more subtle way– let’s look at a jewelry advertisement, like this one below from Bulgari– are what hits home for our self-esteems. Apparently, when it is obvious, we are immune to the displays of beauty and therefore an integral part of the ad, but if the model is selling us something we can physically can differentiate from them (more than makeup; like clothes, perfume, or accessories), we begin to question our own beauty and feel negativity.

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We all have seen these advertisements that show that “sex sells”– but does it effect our perceptions of love and sex? Does it create new expectations and perceptions of sex? Well, to begin this concept, let’s look at fashion in general. In a documentary done by the BBC, they showed that people buy from specific brands– such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Burberry– because we want to show we are successful and therefore can have the best partner (or, “mate” to be scientific). So, automatically, the fashion industry is effecting whom we are attracted to and want to have a relationship and (eventual) children with– and this applies even if you don’t want children, your body is subconsciously controlling this.

Now, let’s starting looking at a deeper level at advertisements. There are many fashion brands that use blatant sexuality– such as the Versace ads I have at the top of this post– and there are arguments that these ads make it subconsciously okay for sexual abuse and violence (Versace is heavily criticized and said to encourage “gang bangs” through their ads). But does this all set us up for expectations in terms of sex, sort of how pornography has for decades? Do we expect by purchasing one of these products that our sex lives will immediately become steamy and so hot that we not only have one hugely-muscled man lusting after us, but four? Does this also make us think that if we are with a person who owns these products that means they are some wild, crazy animal in bed that will satisfy our every desire? Let’s be honest, just how not every women can do a split like a porn star, not every Calvin Klein or Versace wearing-man will have more abs than Gerard Butler in 300 or be the best partner ever. Maybe he is some guy that looks more like someone on The Big Bang Theory; or maybe he is incredibly hot, but is not that great in the bedroom. What if we are just left disappointed in the end?

Even advertisements that don’t feature overly buff and oiled men can create this sexual friction with reality. Such as this Chanel ad from 2009– it features two women standing very close, which inclines the viewer to think the women will kiss.

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Or there is even this Gucci campaign from the Summer of 2012 collection that alluded to both sensuality between the two female models, but with a third member as well (threesome reference, anyone?)

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Or even an ad with one model can effect our perceptions of sex. There are obvious ones like the Burberry ad for their perfume, which features Rosie Wellington completely naked except for a trench coat and you can clearly get an reference to her pleasuring herself. Or, there are even less obvious ones like the this one by Prabal Gurung– the model is alone and fully clothed, but her expression and body position allude to something completely different.

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So, I am just curious whether fashion advertisements are setting expectations for people in terms of their sexual relationships. That by purchasing these clothes we can have four men wanting to have sex with us at one time, we will have men and women lusting after us (maybe even leading to threesomes?), and even our feeling of self-pleasure will become better. That by buying a $6,000 coat or dress will make me so desirable and every aspect of my love life orgasmic. Really? I mean, I love fashion and the advertisements like a lot of people, but some of them go too far. I would still want the dress even if the model wasn’t going to get gang banged; or I would still want the jacket even if the models weren’t on the verge of making out with each other. Do I need to be shown this and it possibly make me have silly expectations for sex in order for me to buy something? Really?

Do I really need to see this to buy your product? Shouldn’t I be wanting it and buying because I want it, not because I want it?

What do you think? Do you think ads, especially fashion ones, are effecting our love lives and sexual expectations? Please comment below and let me know.

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