What do adolescent girls learn about gender roles from advertising images?

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Young Consumers


A qualitative study by autovideography was conducted to examine adolescent girls' negotiation of their gender roles through the consumption of advertising images. This paper aims to document the study. In total, 20 adolescent girls aged 15 to 18 in Hong Kong were asked to take pictures from the media that could illustrate “what girls or women should or should not be and what girls or women should or should not do”. Advertising images captured by the interviewees and their interpretations of those images were analyzed. Seven dominant themes were isolated from the interpretations: appearance; personality; skills and work; activities, interests and lifestyle; family; health and safety; and caring for people and the environment. The findings show that adolescent girls pay much attention to images about slimming, body image and physical appearance. They criticized female images in ads as unrealistic but identified with female images that were natural and conventional. The interviewees were recruited from two secondary schools that may not have been representative. The interviews were conducted in English, which may have caused some of the participants to be reticent about presenting their viewpoints. The implications represent a step forward in relation to how media influence young consumers and how teenagers perceive and intercept what they see in the media. The paper shows that collecting and interpreting female visual images can illustrate vividly the process of gender socialization. © 2012, MCB UP Limited

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