about

This 2014 advertisement for Nine West shoes came from the company’s website, under the category “shoe occasions,” of which there were two: one for the “First Day of Kindergarten” and the other for “Starter Husband Hunting.” The ad reads: “First day of kindergarten: the bus arrives and so do the waterworks. Then it hits you. Mommy now has the weeks off. Wipe those happy-sad tears…we got a shoe for that.” A woman’s lower half is shown in a pink overcoat with high-heeled black shoes. She is holding a tissue, and there are crumpled tissues strewn about her feet as if she has been using them to wipe away tears from crying.

discussion

What gendered roles and stereotypical “female” expressions and expectations are articulated through this ad?

How does this ad perpetuate the notion that women should only be defined not for themselves, but in relation to motherhood and having children (or in the other ad, in relation to men)?

What kind of woman is portrayed in this ad? Does she work? How do you know? What does that say about her financial situation? What does that say about who this ad is targeting?

Why do you need a particular kind of shoe for your child’s first day of kindergarten? What message about women’s appearance is being reinforced by the ad? Are men under the same pressures to look and dress a certain way for “shoe occasions” such as the first day of school?

How does the ad signal that the person in the image is female? What images, symbols, colors, and words are used? How might this ad be read differently if the person in the image appeared to be a man?