Friday, June 6, 2008

How Kelly Ripa Sent the Women’s Movement Back 50 Years

It’s hard enough to justify our profession to the general public sometimes when some polls show people trust us less than lawyers and doctors. I try hard to explain to people the benefits of advertising, while that conceding a host of factors often lead to bad ads and practices that are hard for a single person to control. However, companies like Electrolux don’t make that job any easier. In their latest ads for new Electrolux appliances, Kelly Ripa is depicted as an updated version of the 50s supermom. She works a full-time job, takes impeccable care of the kids, take impeccable care of her appearance, is a perfect hostess who tends to everyone’s needs before they realize they have them, and the icing on the cake- she loves doing every bit of it. Many of us know that one of the dilemmas for the modern women is the expectation to be both career woman and career homemaker and do both flawlessly. People have been working hard to dispel this expectation, as it’s almost impossible. The new supermom image, build much, I’m afraid, on the shoulders of advertising also says this woman does all of this work while looking strikingly beautiful and poised in designer clothing, and probably most detrimentally, that she should enjoy everything about her 120 hour weeks. Kelly has certainly done her job in furthering the unachievable image of the supermom. And just in case there was any doubt about Electrolux’s intentions, the entire ad is set to a subtle soundtrack of nostalgic 50s music. I love retro touches as much as the next guy. In fact I think the kitschy Enzyte ads do a great job of using retro satirically to take some of the discomfort out of a touchy subject. But Electrolux’s most recent ads are clearly an effort to put women back “in their place,” as some of the older generation would say, with the added twist of the modern supermom’s responsibility to hold full-time employment. Women, good luck, and my sympathies.

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