How a School Advert is Pitching Gender Stereotyping as Empowerment

Gender Equality

A recent advertisement for a girls school published in the newspapers, shows a little girl grooming herself, with a backdrop of the most “girly” things possible. The pink background shows sketches of high-heeled shoes, compact powder, a jar of cream and other cosmetic paraphernalia.

What’s missing here are textbooks and reference to any extra-curricular activities associated with schools, like sports, reading, arts, etc. I am certain that no parents would want to spend a fortune on a school which can only teach little girls how to groom one’s face and hair. But what is most face-palm worthy about this advertisement is the tagline, “Empowering her to Rule Forever.”

Are they trying to say that the only way girls can rule forever, is by acing self-grooming? Wonder what happened to being ambitious and working hard?

How much pink do we need when advertising for a girls’ stuff?

We can read that it is a girls’ school. Also, surrounding a young girl with nothing but make-up kit is wrong on so many levels. All they have used to define a gender is cosmetics. It’s as if a girl is not a girl if she does not blow dry her hair or use a blusher or mascara.

Such stereotyping, that too in times when we are trying harder than ever to put an end to gendered roles is regressive and damaging. It tells our boys that all this is girly stuff. It tells our girls that this is all that is to being a girl. Such marketing gimmicks are not acceptable for even clothes or toys these days, let alone educational institutes.

Do advertisers even understand what empowerment means?

The advertisers, clearly do not understand what empowerment means. Yes, make up is empowering to many women. It helps them gain confidence.

There is nothing wrong with caring about aesthetics. Unless you still have your milk teeth and the biggest tragedy of your life is homework.

Empowerment, for the female sex, especially in India is so much more than the right to look the way you want to. It’s about giving them equal opportunities and quality of education and privileges similar to the other gender. It’s about encouraging girls to dream beyond stereotypes. It’s about appreciating what they want to be, instead of what the society wants them to be.

Clearly, the concept of empowerment is just a selling point for institutions and ad agencies these days. We see so many misplaced advertisements in print and media on empowerment of women and girls, which not only miss the mark, but also end up endorsing the very stereotypes which we are trying to break. It wouldn’t hurt these ad wizards to keep a thesaurus at a hand’s distance and actually understand what words like empowerment stand for, before using them so sloppily.

Image Credit: LiveMint

Also Read : Are we stereotyping gender roles with toys?

Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section.  The views expressed are the author’s own

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