The ‘stick’ is more obvious. This approach employs society’s use of threat: if you don’t do or think like this, or want to buy and use this, you are not a member of a chosen group. These adverts usually play on our fear of being unfeminine. The products being advertised in this way are usually those involved in the maintainance of our appearance or the chores of housework; “washes whiter (wouldn’t swop)” or “some girls are simpley smoother than others.” The latter is the hook line for Braun ‘ladies’ shaver and shows a disembodied pair of legs, wearing high heels and topped by a tight short skirt in the process of striding up the ‘escalator of life’. On the wall are pictures (not adverts) of the shaver at work on armpit and shin, unsubtle examples of the personal care required to socially advance. In other adverts, Bergasol tanning products, female rivalry is used to coerce the viewer into accepting the product. This does not make these adverts less successful, surprising to say.
The message from the largely female editorial staff is–“we’ve learned the rules of the game and we can pass them onto you.” We are soothed by their confidential tone and the support they offer us in a world where the notions of femininity are being constantly redefined. Articles like “Who’s Your Heroine” and “Be your Own Agony Aunt” tell us that they take us seriously and just want to help, but in order to be helped we must be prepared to swallow the familiar construction whole. The images although made to male defined standards, are very seductive. Simultaneously we identify with the woman depicted and find her attractive ourselves; seeing her and consequently ourselves, as subject and object, making this unlikely form of social control an exercise in narcissism.