As feminism values grow more popular in the modern world, more young girls are taught to dress for themselves, rather than in ways society suggests they should dress. Hannah Berry, a former student at Wright State University, analyzed two shoe ads and their effect on the ways society suggests young girls should dress. She argues how two shoe companies, Clarks and Sorel, remind girls that natural beauty comes from being uniquely themselves. I believe Berry has a valid and supported argument, but there are flaws in her evidence that lead me to provide a counterargument.
Young women continue to establish their own guidelines regarding what they can wear everyday to distinguish themselves. However, there is still a social stigma seen in both ads that suggest beauty is the true key success. Berry focuses her analysis on the ads’ imagery. She portrays a clear picture in her description of both ads. She begins by supporting the first shoe company described, Clarks. She claims that Clarks aims to encourage even the band geeks to show off their geeky selves. Berry recreates the ad to her readers.
She explains how the audience will see, “your average high school student… in an outfit that speaks to her own distinctive character and talents. ” (Citation). She argues that the young woman pictured in the ad appears sophisticated and quirky, yet beautiful wearing the advertised, brown pumps. Berry analyzes that Clarks ability to portray a quirky-looking woman in a beautiful way helps the audience appreciate individuality which the company is attempting to promote. She further develops her claim analyzing Sorel’s picture ad next.
Similarly, Berry begins by describing the ad in detail. In her opinion, Sorel creates an explosive ad representing a woman’s ability to be pure, innocent, fierce, and powerful all at the same time. In the Sorel ad, an audience looks at, “An expression of triumph and mischief adorns her sultry visage. She’s wearing a revealing short white dress. ” (Citation). Berry is referring to the woman pictured in the ad. Sorel has a very bold way to symbolize individuality, but Berry claims, the outrageousness signifies the boundaries women should break regarding society’s rules on beauty.
In the ad, she explains a woman looks as though she had shot a chandelier down with her old shot gun sitting to her side. Berry makes a point that this ad enables women to be who they are regardless of how dark they may be inside. Each ad is different, however, both are aimed toward a certain audience to provoke a specific reaction. While one company aims their ad toward band geeks and book worms, the other aims their ad toward the sexy sci-fi women. Each ad still seems to attempt to provoke the same sense of individuality.
It makes sense that Berry has directed her analysis towards young women because her essay aims to convince these women to eliminate the condescending guidelines to consider themselves beautiful. She sees these fashion ads as innovative ways to show young women how it is ok to express their true inner beauty. Her analysis is a backlash to society’s inability to allow women to express who they really are. However, Berry also writes this analysis to show how, in positive ways, certain fashion companies are attempting to destroy the social stereotypes.
This analysis successfully unravels valid, possible purposes of the ads, however I do not agree with Berry’s conclusion that both ads successfully show women what expressing true inner beauty looks like. A flaw I saw in Berry’s argument was that she failed to recognize that, in both ads, both women are dressed up in perfectly worn outfits, with perfectly done make up. In her introduction, Berry even states that, for many years, products like makeup and a certain wardrobe have dictated whether someone is beautiful or not. Berry argues, “…a new generation of advertisement has emerged…with the quest for confident individuality.
It is evident in society that there is without a doubt a new fashion industry promoting the importance of being yourself. I agree slightly with Berry’s statement, but would argue that it is thanks to the innovating fashion industry, rather than advertisements, that have led to new and diverse styles. Despite their ability to be bold, I do not see these ads any different than other ads which set societal stereotypes in place. Despite the ads’ attempts, their photographer, make up artist, and wardrobe designer make it difficult to enable women to still feel confident after seeing their ad.
Specifically, the Sorel ad fails to convince women that they do not need to be sexy, wearing lots of make up to consider themselves beautiful. The woman sitting in the chair appears confident. Certain audiences may feel degraded, especially if they feel they can only look like this woman in order to be able to wear the Sorel boots. It is hard to celebrate individuality when the two women pictured are so perfectly advertising their unique selves. Without a doubt the Clarks and Sorel ads are definite alternatives to the cliche, beauty commercials encouraging society’s women to make themselves look like Barbie dolls.
However, Berry fails to recognize that the motive of each fashion ad is most likely the same as the others. Besides the overall motive to earn money for their company, the Clarks and Sorel shoe ads are simply trying to convince young women to buy their shoes. To do so, the companies shape their ad around a campaign that society can praise. While both ads show two different unique personalities, wearing two completely different shoes, I saw this more as ways to promote their product. Both companies directed their ads toward different audiences.
The Clarks ad allows their audience to see the beauty in being a geeky band chic, while Sorel shows their audience the beauty in being a confident, science fictional woman. Now a day, the fashion industry is so diverse that women are free to be whichever kind of individual they wish to be. It is because our country’s growth and diversity in beliefs that allow young women to express who they are. Society’s media continues to set guidelines on how women should look to consider themselves beautiful, but these guidelines are set for each type of individual.
The fashion industry is learning that there are so many different unique individuals, that promoting products with a Barbie-like model is not going to be successful anymore. After Berry described and analyzed the Clarks and Sorel shoe ads, I was able to make the conclusion that societal changes have generated a new business of advertisement geared towards young women. Hannah Berry made the argument that, today, women are encouraged to express themselves confidently. In two shoe ads, Clarks and Sorel, she claims both are tangents from standard beauty ads and promote individuals to be unique rather than to be a Barbie clone.
My initial judgment agrees with Berry’s thoughts because of the evident diversity of individuals seen throughout society. I agree, the different personalities expressed in each photo help remind the audience of the true origin of beauty, however, I see the ads limiting individuals how much they can express themselves. It is the fact that more fashion companies are promoting self expression, and the Clarks and Sorel shoe ads are not examples of advertisements breaking free from the standards. In today’s fashion world, society as a whole has broke free from tradition.