A Cross-Cultural Study of the Representation of Women in Instagram Cosmetic Advertisements
Mennatalla Shalaby, Sharifah Nurulhuda Alkaff

Beauty advertisements have long been the focus of feminists as the promotion of idealised beauty standards is seen as oppressive and even demeaning to women. The overwhelming majority of research in this topic has concluded that traditional advertising tends to represent stereotyped images of women in which they are often portrayed as submissive and vulnerable. However, as there is now a pronounced shift towards online advertising, possible changes in the portrayal of women in a non-traditional medium such as social media are investigated in this study as the portrayal of women in social media is still a relatively unexplored area of investigation. In this study, the visual representation of women on the Instagram posts of two cosmetic companies, a multi-national US-based company (Maybelline) and a Middle-Eastern based independent company (Huda Beauty) are examined. The images of women in sixty posts from the two Instagram accounts of both companies were analyzed using Goffman's (1979) and Kang‟s (1997) frameworks of gender display in advertisements. The results show that despite the popular perception of social media as the „great equalizer‟ in terms of the creation and depiction of content, the vast majority of the images analyzed still depict women in the categories that are associated with disempowerment. Surprisingly, however, the images that depict independence and self-assertiveness by both companies feature women wearing the Muslim veil.

Full Text: PDF      DOI: 10.15640/ijgws.v7n2p6