Friday, 15 November 2013



Using the text Coward, R. 'The Look', write one critical analysis of a media image which in your opinion, constructs a particular type of gender stereotype, or reflects the dominant patriarchal concepts of gender, critiqued in the lecture 'The Gaze and the Media'. 

Include at least 5 references.
500 words maximum.


For this analysis, I will be looking at a Lynx deodorant advertisement, featuring Kelly Brook, which I feel embodies 'the Look' and the principles set out by Coward in her essay, focusing on the perfect 'ideal' perceived by the media. 

The image shows Brook, 'looking' into the camera, with a seductive glare, showing off the ideal, perfect physique, according to modern day Western culture and media. As always males have dominated advertising, promoting women with an intent to sell within a sex consumer driven industry - "[advertising] as we know it is crucially predicated on a masculine investigation of women, and a circulation of women's images for men" (Coward, R. The Look. P.33). This quote backs up the justification of the Lynx advert above being an advertisement to sell sex and the desire for a sexual object, which cannot be encapsulated in any other regard than the media.

The above image encompasses the 'ideal' woman through the purveyance of the media and the "preoccupation with the visual image [with] how these images measure up to a socially prescribed ideal" (Coward, R. The Look. P.33). The advert itself doesn't feature any text, leaving the imagery to talk for the product. The way Brook is perceived, and 'looks' at the camera with such desire and conviction, leaves an ideal for the male to gaze upon. She holds no boundaries. She is open for "men [to] stare" (Coward, R. The Look. P.33) proving how "the look confers power" (Coward, R. The Look. P.33), even though the woman is unable to react. 'The look' has become a sign of society following suit and order. 

Lynx adverts are known to be controversial with their choices of female positioning and photography to reflect the ideal through 'the look' and perfection, especially as "these women on billboards [they] look back. Those fantasy women stare off the walls with a look of urgent availability" (Coward, R. The Look. P.34.) echoing the image shown above. The women on billboards act differently to women in the street do when it comes to the look. A perfection has been created through media and male dominance within the industry, which women have to try and keep up to. 

The look works as both a positive and negative in regards to the media, and with promiscuous photos such as Brook shown above, advertising such a perfect perception of women, has highlighted issues with the media and the dominance of the male desires, as pushed by Coward in her essay. A desire for women to look a certain way has been created through a sex driven society which many real women cannot compete or compare too; "the emphasis on women's looks becomes a crucial way in which society exercises control over women's sexuality" (Coward, R. The Look. P.35) and the desire to look and act a certain way; "Self-image in this society is enmeshed with judgements about desirability" (Coward, R. The Look. P.36) which this advert exudes causing further issues of women becoming narcissists about their self appearance, and desire and ability to be loved.