JSS  Vol.9 No.9 , September 2021
The Stereotypical Representation of Females in Women’s Health Magazine’s Cosmetic Advertisements
Abstract: This research examines how the ideal white beauty is portrayed in the cosmetic advertisements in a popular women’s magazine named Women’s Health, which is mainly based on the topics of health, diet, fitness and fashion, and how this contemporary women’s magazine uses the stereotypical representations of women in the cosmetic advertisements. With this aim, this paper bases its argument on the cultivation theory, which points out that the media indeed constructs the world that others should live in, and it presents the gender stereotypes that they should embrace (Bögenhold & Naz, 2018: p. 60). Thus, it is the media, which shapes how people understand the gender representations in real life. In this research, the researcher has used social semiotics as a method in order to reveal that. It is seen that the magazine basically uses five different stereotypical representations of women, which are the sex kitten, the classic and feminine model, the cute model or lolita, the trendy model, and the casual model. The magazine creates a perception that wearing make-up is essential for good-looking and attracting the opposite sex and by using most of the models as a decorative object, the magazine uses benevolent sexism. Overall, the magazine shows to the average women how gender roles should be perceived through stereotypical representations so that they can apply them in real life. Nevertheless, the usage of an elderly woman creates a contrast in the stereotypical representation therefore it is seen as progressive. Thus, the magazine, which takes a broad-minded step, breaks the conventional representation of women in the cosmetic advertisements.

1. Introduction

Women’s Health Magazine is a contemporary women’s magazine, which is mainly based on the topics of health, diet, fashion, and relationships. The magazine is based on the notion of ideal white beauty, which emerged thanks to the consumer culture, and the ideal white beauty is actually an illusory idea that many women want to reach.

The magazine, which supports this dreamlike idea subtly, articulates that even though this is numerous women’s unobtainable dream, it can actually be achieved through exercise, diet, shopping, cosmetics, botox, plastic surgery, and to actualize all of these women should have motivation and they should program their agenda accordingly.

Therefore, the magazine contains many articles about how women can transform their appearance for the better by following the guidelines given related to beauty, fashion, detox, weight-loss, and workout. Besides, it advises women to take care of their appearance by giving particular emphasis to her physical body and it shows them how to manage their appearance with practical tips related to attractiveness.

Cosmetic products, which are part of the consumer culture, lead many women to consume several of them to feel better about outlooks and to satisfy their inner psychology. Women’s Health frequently includes cosmetic advertisements on their pages by presenting the latest fashion trends so that they can motivate women to go shopping at department stores. However, while doing that they often use the stereotypical representations of women.

Consumer culture sells the western ideology of white ideal beauty, which says that women should be attractive by being slender and slim, and they should carry sex appeal to attract the opposite sex. In order to meet the demands of the white ideal beauty, which is mainly about being good-looking by being slim and fit, many urban women globally spend most of their salaries for shopping clothes and cosmetics, and they schedule their leisure time activities for fitness, exercise and diet.

The white ideal beauty requires action from the individual, and it is in the individual’s hands to organize and establish a new lifestyle that they have always wanted for, and this is continually supported through the content and articles given in the magazine’s different issues. The magazine, which offers its readers many choices in how to style themselves, shows this through stereotypes and women who take these stereotypes as role models try to resemble them.

Also, the magazine basically supports the idea of healthism, and stresses that it is the individual’s own responsibility to practice a healthy life (Bilişli, 2018: p. 15). Furthermore, the slender body itself is a symbol of status and appreciation, and it’s reaching to perfection through diet, exercise, and plastic surgery exchanges this meaning to other people (Baudrillard, 2020: p. 178).

Nevertheless, exercise and diet are only the two components of achieving the white ideal beauty because women actually need new products to complete the cycle. This is most highly related to the fact that in capitalist societies, the body is continually built upon with the products circulated in the consumer culture and how the body appears, in other words, the out-look or appearance is given more importance than anything else (Bilişli, 2018: p. 99). Thus, women should go for a change in how they are perceived in general and they should go through a transformation. They can start this by going to shopping and trying new cosmetic and apparel products at department stores.

The goods, which awaken the emotional drives in consumers, are presented to them in abundance at department stores by inviting them to shop and by saying that they can get rid of the ordinariness and routineness of daily life, because out of this activity of shopping they will gain ultimate satisfaction (Baudrillard, 2020: p. 24). Therefore, shopping for cosmetic products at department stores is another significant part of attaining the ideal white beauty and the cosmetic industry is a crucial field that has an influence on this notion as it produces high-technology products that make the skin of women beautiful every day.

Thus, the magazine, in fact, creates a new modern lifestyle for many urban women by offering them stereotypes that they can take as role models. The white ideal beauty is an ideal, which is mostly pursued by white-collar women in big cities. Apart from the time outside of office, these women socialize by looking at and purchasing various cosmetics, apperal and accessorize products at shopping malls or on the Internet, and they socialize at coffee shops or hip restaurants with their friends when they go out. They take vacations such as skiing in winter, beaches on summer and they go to abroad for touristic trips. They share many photos displaying their fit bodies on social media.

In addition, they go to beauty centers to have a skincare and a manicure, they go to the fitness center to exercise, and they go to the spas to get the service of aromatherapy, and massage. Meanwhile, out of these efforts, they should be able to attract the opposite sex with their elegant look and fashionable lifestyle. Therefore, female stereotypes represented in the magazine play an important role in how average women perceive the gender roles, in general.

2. The Purpose and Method of the Research

This research aims to find out how different cosmetic advertisement types related to the stereotypical representations of women are reflected in the Turkish version of Women’s Health Magazine, which consists of several cosmetic advertisements related to beauty and fashion. The researcher has chosen Women’s Health Magazine because of the extraordinariness of the magazine out of the other women’s magazines in the market. Overall, the magazine usually uses headlines, visuals and advertisements, which have short, courageous, bold expressions, and it surprises the reader with its subtle, yet direct messages. The Turkish version of the magazine is chosen during this research primarily because of its availability and reachability in the researcher’s country, and as the researcher wants to portray how modern Turkish women understand the stereotypical representations by decoding the cosmetic advertisements, she has chosen the Turkish version of the magazine.

First the researcher has gone through all the cosmetic advertisements in the 2014 and 2015 versions of the magazine according to the categorization of Chan and Cheng (2012: p. 9) in the literature, which are classic/feminine model, cute model, sex kitten, casual model and trendy model, and she has categorized the cosmetic advertisements. Out of this categorization she has picked the best ones that can represent this categorization. As a result, the researcher has picked 6 cosmetic advertisements that represent each unique stereotype category. The 2014 and 2015 issues of Women’s Health Magazine such as September 2014, October 2014, December 2014, March 2015, May 2015 and August 2015 are used in this research because the chosen advertisements take place in these particular issues.

The advertisements are chosen with the technique of purposeful sampling. The difference of purposeful sampling from random sampling is that the sample is selected because it is thought that it will meet the demands of the research and thus the sample is selected on purpose (Boeije, 2010: p. 35). This research mainly examines how Women’s Health Magazine’s cosmetic advertisements portray women in stereotypes. It scrutinizes what kind of a female representation is presented in the advertisements for women to hold on to and apply them into their own lives. Also, it looks at how the ideal white feminine beauty appears in these advertisements.

All of the images that take place in the advertisements have a purpose, and these aren’t put in there randomly; in fact, they carry the traditional meanings of the culture that one lives in, and they convey the gender roles, and identities of that specific culture (Bögenhold & Naz, 2018: p. 58). Consumers perceive the world by seeking for meaning in the advertisements, which show how women and men should be like; in other words, advertisements construct the meaning for the consumers by using representations helping consumers to perceive the reality (Zotos, Grau, & Taylor, 2018: p. 84). So, this research aims to reveal what kind of a perception that the magazine forms in terms of understanding the female gender role in Turkey.

This is a qualitative study in which the technique of social semiotics is used. The difference of qualitative study from quantitative study is that quantitative study chiefly measures numbers with various statistics techniques, whereas qualitative study is mainly interested in what referred meanings, metaphors, symbols and descriptions mean within the texts and in different media images such as printed magazine advertisements (Berg & Lune, 2014: p. 3).

According to Saussure semiotics’ system, signs are unique objects by themselves, but there is a common understanding, which make them tied to each other, and there is always multiple ways to read a sign and the reader needs to understand not only the primary meaning, but also the figure of speech, as well as the untold, and that is pointed with the signifier (Raber & Budd, 2003: p. 508).

In this case, popular culture documents such as the cosmetic advertisements in women’s magazines are used as visual documents. Advertisements always contain different metaphors, which carry concealed meanings about certain ideas, and advertising appeals are the things, which draw the interest of the consumer towards the products by making the product exciting, noticeable and fascinating (Eskelinen, 2011: pp. 24-41).

In this research, chosen cosmetic advertisements, which are taken place in a popular printed contemporary women’s magazine named Women’s Health, are analyzed with the technique of social semiotics and the covered meanings are revealed. As a method, social semiotics is based on a few elements. According to Wong (2019: pp. 2-3) first of all, the researcher uses many components ranging from image, gesture, gaze, posture, colour and to text while making meaning out of the visual document and all of these single elements support the production process of the meaning evenly and the meaning is tried to be given in a social context in which the best expression depicting the visual is tried to be reflected out of the many possible choices, and the meaning which is produced portrays the perspective of the researcher as the researcher reflects what she is motivated to reveal.

3. The Cosmetic Advertisements and the Ideal White Beauty

The cosmetic advertisements, which are introduced by women’s magazines, direct women to be in style all the time by consuming different cosmetics products. Cosmetic advertisements repeatedly tell women that they need to purchase make-ups, deodorants, shampoo, and anti-aging creams in order to repair their image, which is unsatisfactory (Pompper, 2017: p. 79).

The aim of cosmetic advertisements is to make sure that many people desire the same product when they see it, and then they make a dream about purchasing it, and thus the purpose of advertisements is that they make the product known by many people and they create a motivation for them to go shopping afterwards (Kawamura, 2005: pp. 139-140).

However, according to Wolf (2002: p. 78) if a woman wants to use and purchase every kind of cosmetic products that are advised by the cosmetic advertisements in women’s magazines, she will be occupied with making her hair, taking care of her face and body skin, dabbing perfume and wearing make-up all day long without having time left to do any other thing at all and thus women’s magazines are no different than commodities and they are based on selling cosmetic products.

Therefore, with the cosmetic advertisements, women are constantly told that their appearance is inadequate and a solution is provided to them with the beauty products in order to improve this appearance for the better (Ringrow, 2016: p. 32). In other words, women are told that they should resemble the images on the advertisements by constantly reminded that their bodies urgently need improvement and thus they should diet, dye their hair, wax their body hair, do make-up to their faces and shop for fashionable clothes (Hoskins, 2014: pp. 110-111). In the consumer culture the body has turned into “a meta”, which can be consumed through the many choices that the beauty industry offers such as beauty parlors, cosmetics, fashion brands, fitness, plastic surgery, and dieticians (Bilişli, 2018: p. 28).

The cosmetics industry often sells the image of young, beautiful, and attractive women, instead of aging women. For instance, in the U.S.A, the models that take place in the advertisements related to cosmetic products appealing to older people are always young (Szmigin & Carrigan, 1999: p. 3). Thus, the consumer culture, in a way, mentions from aging as “a disease”, which women should get rid of by consuming anti-aging products; in other words, women should do everything to prevent aging or they should find ways to disguise it such as a botox (Bilişli, 2018: p. 100).

On the other hand, women magazines often portray men with their wrinkles on their faces and show aging in men as something giving charisma and appeal to men, despite the fact that editors in women magazines usually try to photoshop the wrinkles on the faces of women before broadcasting their pictures so as to show them young (Richardson & Locks, 2014: p. 41).

4. The Stereotypical Representation of Women in Women’s Magazines

The cultivation theory underlines that the way the advertisements create the images of gender roles, is how others will perceive the world; so the more the advertisers use the stereotypes of gender roles, the more the stereotypical representations will occur in daily life (Bögenhold & Naz, 2018: p. 60).

In terms of stereotypical representation of women in magazines, Acevedo and Tamashiro (2006: p. 63) analyzed the portrayal of women in print advertisements taking place in Brazilian women’s magazines and they found out that women are seen while touching an object by caressing it with their hands or fingers, when they wear body-revealing clothes showing their partial nude body when they are in a decorative role detached from the products, when they are as physically beautiful showing that the main goal in life for a woman is to become beautiful when they are physically perfect showing that a woman should be young, slim and good-looking. Moreover, women are usually portrayed when they are lying on the ground while giving a pose in which they are seen happy and they are usually smiling by showing their white teeth to give that feeling (Schroeder, 2002: p. 62).

Advertisements in women’s magazines also contain sexism within, which means disregarding the capabilities of women (Bögenhold & Naz, 2018: p. 60). There are three different types of sexism used in advertisements. For instance, the hostile sexism is about showing women inferior and weak; the second one is benevolent sexism, which is about protecting the women and showing affection towards them and in this kind of sexism women are usually in the position of a decorative object; and the last one is about putting unachievable perfect images in front of women and expects them to fit into these ideals of beauty (Bögenhold & Naz, 2018: p. 60).

Also, Chan and Cheng (2012: p. 19) categorized the beauty types of women, which are used stereotypically in women’s magazines mainly in five categories. Accordingly, the classic/feminine model prefers to wear soft colors of clothes and she represents a medium-aged woman. The cute model wears clothes, which are younger than her age and she is like lolita. The sex kitten model wears either tight clothes, which reveals her body curves, or sexy bikinis and she gives a sexually appealing pose. The casual model wears sports clothes for physical exercise and she doesn’t wear any make-up. The trendy model wears ornamented accessories and the latest fashionable clothes.

Moreover, there is a difference between the advertisements used in Western and Eastern cultures in women’s magazines. In the Western culture, the advertisements promise to the receiver individual success, confidence, and independence while addressing to their preferences as a consumer; whereas, in the Eastern culture the advertisements are more about creating harmony and they address to the benefits of a group such as a family or a team, etc. so while the Western culture is more individualistic, the Eastern culture is more collectivistic (Mooij, 2004: p. 102).

5. Analysis of the Research

5.1. The Sex Kitten Stereotype

In Photo 1, the top model who has a stunning face and ideal body image is getting prepared with her cosmetic product and she turns into a sexy woman thanks to her pink lipstick, which has a vivid color. In this advertisement, she represents the sex kitten among the stereotypical women categories.

The advertisement says are you ready for a more shiny world? The advertising appeal is that women who use this product will be introduced to a more glamorous world that they don’t want to ex/it. In the advertisement, the sign is a lipstick and the message given is that women will become more attractive if they use this lipstick and they will manage to influence the opposite sex. Her lipstick will help her to stand out in every social environment that she enters during the day. Thus, she looks passionate, confident, irresistible, independent, and sexy thanks to her appealing make-up.

The cosmetic brand creates a glamorous myth in the advertisement along with the cosmetic product and puts forward the sex appeal of the model. Cosmetic advertisements usually show young and physically attractive women who are in the position of an object that arouses the senses of the viewer (Sarı, 2013: p. 87). This cosmetic advertisement shows the model as the sex kitten stereotype.

The model wears a combination of different cosmetic products in which the lipstick shines and thanks to her charming make-up she manages to draw all the attention towards herself. She has a sexy look towards the camera, she is exposed to the male gaze, and she fits into the ideal white beauty stereotype with her

Photo 1. Women’s health magazine, September 2014, p. 23.

slender body image. According to Sarı, two types of women are often used in the advertisements: One of them is the urban, single and sexy women while the other is the married and domestic women (Sarı, 2013: p. 93).

Photo 1 uses the first women type who is urban, sexy and single. It depicts urban and single woman living in a big city and who is busy with getting ready before starting the day. In this advertisement, the product is shown together with the model, who introduces it. The model shows that the main goal of a woman should be associated with being beautiful. The pink color is also the color of a kiss and the color of a kiss is used in this advertisement as sex appeal. So, women are given the promise that if they use these lipsticks, they will also have sensuous lips just like this model. So, the female consumer who will use this product will turn into somebody that other women will be jealous of and this is what is tried to be shown in the advertisement (Batı, 2005: p. 182).

5.2. The Lolita Stereotype

Photo 2 creates various sensations on the viewer who looks at the model. In the advertisement, the model is in the position of a decorative object and the beauty of the model is shown as breathtaking. She is delicate, soft, pure, and innocent. The colour of her hair is warm and she represents not only purity but also the

Photo 2. Women’s health magazine, October 2014, p. 19.

life energy just like the sun (Schindler, 1986: p. 72). With her partially naked body she looks at the camera and she is exposed to the male gaze. With her posture, she is like a lolita. Therefore, the sign is lolita in this advertisement and it is associated with being young by resisting getting older. In fact, a lolita is such a young woman that her usage of an anti-aging cream isn’t necessary. However, her usage in the advertisement creates a contrast. The cosmetic brand also says that they use natural ingredients, collagen, and vitamins, which make the skin so beautiful and shiny. In a way, it is implied that this cream is the savior of many women who have concerns about their wrinkled skin, and it nourishes the skin so well that it lifts and firms the skin of women, and makes them ready for a fresh start every week.

Photo 2 tries to convey that women who use this anti-aging cream are given the promise of youthful skin and for looking young. Also, the advertisement implies that women who use this product are always special and unique. This brand gives the promise to women that they have the opportunity to look much younger and beautiful once they use this cosmetic product and thus the expense of this cosmetic product is worth buying it (Ringrow, 2016: p. 2).

In advertisements taking place on women’s magazines’ pages, it is hard to come across with the portrayal of older women’s faces; instead, the faces of women, which represent youthfulness, are always shown (Wolf, 2002: p. 6). For women, aging is portrayed as a problem that needs to be treated (Richardson & Locks, 2014: p. 42). For instance, skin products tell women that they need to get rid of their wrinkles on their faces and cellulite on their bodies, and they need to lift their face skin in order to look younger (Ringrow, 2016: p. 4).

Photo 3 challenges to the idea of looking young that is only shown via young women. Here in this third advertisement, instead of using a young-looking woman using an anti-aging product, this time an elderly-looking woman is used in the advertisement. Here, the sign is an elderly women and the signifier is the attempt of challenging aging despite being mature in age. Anti-aging advertisements always try to turn the clock backward for the women and they give the promise to women that they can resist the change on their skins and can amend their skins for the better (Clarke, 2011 cited Rosso, 2017: p. 188).

Thus, Photo 3 is the reverse of the lolita image. The elderly woman in the advertisement shows how a woman can actually resist to aging and preserves her youthful look despite the flow of time thanks to the amazing cosmetic product. The colour of purple used in the advertisement also gives a regal and luxurious feeling, and indicates the expensiveness of the product (Schindler, 1986: p. 72). The elderly woman smiles at the camera by showing her teeth, which signifies the contentment she has as a result of using this product. Therefore, she challenges to the stereotypical representation of lolita women that is more oftenly used in the cosmetic advertisements and she breaks the continual representation of young women in advertisements.

Photo 3. Women’s health magazine, December 2014, p. 23.

5.3. The Trendy Model Stereotype

In Photo 4, an internationally well-known supermodel wears a pink sexy mini dress, which emphasizes their velvety smooth skinny legs. Advertisers often think that the usage of a famous celebrity in an advertisement increases the interest of people towards the brand therefore they prefer to use celebrities in the advertisements rather than the average person (Jackson & Shaw, 2009: p. 328).

The supermodel represents the trendy model in this cosmetic product advertisement because she wears the latest fashionable clothes and shoes. She wears the colour of purple which is a comforting colour, as well (Schindler, 1986: p. 72). She has recently removed the hair on her legs with the help of the wax and now her legs look so shiny and smooth, and she has achieved comfort as a result. She displays her legs with confidence now, and with her posture, it is possible to understand that she knows her worth. She is ready for the catwalk. The advertising appeal is that women can be charming in any time thanks to this product and women don’t need to make a compromise from their beauty at all. The product is practical, it saves time, disposable and fast-resulted.

The Western ideology of ideal white beauty tells women to remove the unwanted hair on their bodies even though hair removal is something changing according to different cultures. The ideal white beauty tells women that their skin will look more smooth and attractive this way, and the supermodel portrays that confidence in that cosmetic advertisement. Lesnik-Oberstein (2006: p. 1) points out

Photo 4. Women’s health magazine, August 2015, p. 21.

that women’s body hair is always seen as something which is undesired as it is seen as excess hair that isn’t feminine therefore women’s magazines show ways how women can get rid of this unwanted hair by introducing hair-removal products such as wax. With her long hair and slim body, the supermodel looks very feminine, and she represents the proportions of ideal white beauty with her slim waist, long legs, and slim body. In that sense, she is just like a Barbie doll. Here, the sign is the Barbie doll.

Photo 4 tells women that they can reach to perfection in their physical look just like her the moment they purchase and use this product. It implies women that they should change the form of their bodies with dieting so that they can get into physical shape, and they should wear make-up to look more neat, they should wear stylish clothes to look charming, and they should wax their body to eradicate the undesired look, and this way they can achieve perfection (Hoskins, 2014: p. 110).

In this advertisement, the famous model has a nice-looking face and ideal body image and shows the ideal white beauty standards to be attained for average women. In the picture, her beauty has been transformed thanks to the beauty product. Now, the model who has sex appeal with her mini dress and slender long legs represents pureness, smoothness, and sensuousness. Thus, the advertisement offers a solution to the consumer by promising that the product will change something in her life, or it will fix something or it will enhance her lifestyle (Bögenhold & Naz, 2018: p. 71).

5.4. The Classic and Feminine Woman Stereotype

In Photo 5, the popular Turkish soap opeara actress, who is a medium-aged woman, represents the classic and feminine woman stereotype with her beautiful soft outfit. The colour of her hair and her outfit is black, which represents sophistication (Schindler, 1986: p. 72). In this advertisement, the sign is the female hair. The hair of the model on her head is very long and black and in gorgeous volume. It is given a faboulous style and coloured, and it is presented as sexually attractive, and thus how a woman’s hair is treated in general is the contrast of her body hair (Lesnik-Oberstein, 2006: pp. 1-3).

The hair of the celebrity is also one of the most essential and valuable parts of her body, which draws the attention of men with its sleek and stunning look. The hair of a woman is the most important element, which signifies her femininity, and a woman’s hair, is always praised and adored compared to her body hair, which is unwanted, and it is given many styles and colors with different hairstyle techniques in order to make it look charming (Lesnik-Oberstein, 2006: p. 1).

The media often sell the image of white, young, thin, and beautiful women to the average women while creating dissatisfaction about their own body image in the meantime (Rosso, 2017: p. 188). By creating this dissatisfaction, Western advertisements aim to indicate that women who will use this product have some kind of deficiency therefore she absolutely needs this product and this is what

Photo 5. Women’s health magazine, May 2015, p. 43.

increases consumption in the consumer culture (Batı, 2005: p. 181). The white ideal beauty motivates many women all over the world to consume cosmetic products in order to reach the ideal way of looking good. This cosmetic advertisement promise many women who feel unconfident of themselves about how to repair their body image in the way that they like. The actress who puts her hand in her waist and who flips her hair gives a confident pose towards the camera. Therefore, in this advertisement average female consumers are given the promise that if they use this shampoo they will have such a beautiful change and they will become charming and manage to influence the opposite sex easily.

5.5. The Casual Model Stereotype

It is possible to understand that Photo 6 signifies the casual model stereotype who wants to achieve a sportive outlook, and who aims to have a fit and athletic body. The cosmetic product which is advertised is both an anti-aging and slimming tool that can be used both for the face and body. The tool which can be applied to the face makes the skin look much younger. Also, this tool helps to firm the body to a certain extent by slimming the waist. Furthermore, it eradicates the cellulite or “orange look” on women’s legs. Thanks to this cosmetic product, any woman can become slimmer and fitter. The advertisement advises women to purchase this beauty product by giving the statistics showing how using this tool achieves good results.

Photo 6. Women’s health magazine, March 2015, p. 57.

The model has a muscular body and she doesn’t have any cellulite. She wears a bikini which has a white colour signifying the sterility of the beauty parlour environment (Schindler, 1986: p. 72). She is achieving a young, firm, fit, and athletic outlook thanks to this product that not only firms the body, but which also lifts and cleanses the skin of the face. The model has achieved a muscular belly and her proportions are shown as very sportive. In that sense, while the slimming product is the sign, the muscular and young body is the signifier. Accordingly, any woman can achieve good results thanks to using this product. The message, which is tried to be conveyed in this advertisement, is that using this high-technological beauty product will help women to have a body that they always desire, and it will aid them to shape their bodies.

Every woman gets into stress about how to shape their bodies for their summer vacations and especially they want to have a fit body when they wear a bikini, and thus getting ready for summer by applying diets and using beauty products have an important part in many women’s lives. Many women think that if they cannot reach the ideal body presented in women’s magazines, they will find themselves uncomfortable and unconfident while going to the beach. These women, who feel unconfident, don’t want to reveal their bodies too much when they wear a bikini. Thanks to using this product, women will gain confidence about the appearance of their bodies.

In conclusion, the cosmetic advertisements put high standards in front of women with the models that they use, and they use certain women stereotypes such as the sex kitten, the classic and feminine model, the cute model or lolita, the trendy model, and the casual model. All of the advertisements chosen for this research carry Western culture characteristics because they promise success, confidence, standing on her own feet, and being independent as Mooij (2004: p. 102) pointed out.

Thus, they show all of the women as individualistic. These women pursue the fashionable and stylish lifestyle that the ideal white beauty disseminates. The advertising appeals which are used in the advertisements talk about the white ideal beauty with the elements of being urban, young, charming, attractive, sexy, sensuous, slim, hairless in body, hair in great volume, muscular and fit. Also, by showing the models as decorative objects mostly, the magazine uses benevolent sexism. The magazine indicates to the average women how they should perceive gender roles and use them in real life. Only, one advertisement in which the elderly woman is seen challenges to this stereotypical representation.

6. Conclusion and Discussion

The metaphors in the chosen cosmetic advertisements, which are revealed with the technique of social semiotics, show that looking young and being beautiful should be the first priorities for women. They should do many grooming activities to resemble a Barbie doll. In Western cultures, in early age, girls start to have an idea about the ideal beauty standards with Barbie dolls which signify ideal feminine beauty (Perloff, 2014: p. 365). The Barbie doll represents the primarily used ideal feminine stereotype. Thus, the magazine tells women that they should purchase various cosmetic products in order to preserve their charming look. In order to increase the consumption of cosmetic products, the magazine has showed doing make-up as a pleasurable, and sexy activity in their advertisements, and it has tried to put the sex appeal of the models in front.

Furthermore, the cosmetic advertisements taking place in Women’s Health Magazine influence many Turkish women about which cosmetic brands that they should use, and they create a perception that wearing make-up and grooming the body is essential for good-looking. Therefore, most of the women believe that they look better with make-up and when they wear cosmetics they feel more confident, attractive and feminine (Freedman, 1990: p. 197).

Moreover, cosmetic advertisements often show single, urban and young women wearing fashionable clothes and who are ready to attract the opposite sex with their charming body and posture. As Acevedo and Tamashiro (2006) pointed these women either display their partial nude bodies, and they are in the role of a decorative object or they imply to other women that they should set being beautiful as their main goal in life and shop for cosmetics. The advertisements create a desire and stimulate the senses of Turkish women for shopping to enhance their out-looks. Also, the women in the advertisements are often shown while living in big city life, and thus they are mostly modern women and they can’t be categorized as domestic. Also, these women are portrayed as passionate, confident, and sexy.

Furthermore, the cosmetic advertisements imply that grooming the body is so significant that Turkish women should share some of their time during the day just for grooming the body with different cosmetic products such as shampoo, face creams, or wax. Cosmetic advertisements also promise average women that their skins can resist aging if they use certain beauty products regularly. Moreover, they advise women to have a fit and athletic body by using slimming tools helping to shape the body. Average Turkish women are motivated to start exercise and diet, and with the support of beauty products, they are given the promise of a transformation, in which they can turn their face and body to charming.

The white ideal beauty is still a phenomenon that is popular worldwide and it is tightly embraced by many white-collar women living in urban cities. Many women believe that being slender not only increases their self-esteem about how they feel about their bodies, but also this ideal lifestyle increases their popularity among their peers as they demonstrate that they are fashionable in the meantime. However, in the long term, women should be aware of the risks of anorexia and bulimia and shouldn’t go extreme about getting slim. In this research, chosen cosmetic advertisements in the Turkish version of Women’s Health Magazine are analyzed, and this way an intercultural aspect is reflected in how the magazine shows women in stereotypes in Turkey. This research also revealed what kind of a reality the magazine has built for women to stick to. This research is valuable in the sense that it indicates the Turkish perspective. In the future, a comparison can be made with different versions of this contemporary women’s magazine, and similarities or differences can be revealed. It is also possible to make a comparison with the Men’s Health Magazine and how the male version reflects stereotypes can be examined, as well.

Cite this paper: Emeksiz, G. (2021) The Stereotypical Representation of Females in Women’s Health Magazine’s Cosmetic Advertisements. Open Journal of Social Sciences, 9, 53-70. doi: 10.4236/jss.2021.99005.

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