Exercise 4.1 – Looking at Adverts

The exercise asks us to look at the Dawn Woolley articles on the WEAREOCA website and either make a blog post or reply on the site. It was difficult to track down the posts as they are now 3 years old and Dawn has left OCA – however, persistence worked.

I looked at her last post on fashion and anti-aging products. In spite of this post being old these products are still very heavily advertised today, and therefore it is still relevant. The ads still suggest we can ‘stop time’. The ads she shows and Judith Williamson talks about use ‘science’ or more often pseudoscience to catch ones attention, to make you feel that what they are saying ‘must be right’ . Woolley and Williamson describe a ‘mythic’ element to this use of science and this magic is suggested to make you look, and therefore feel younger, more attractive and therefore increase your feeling of self-worth.

I had a quick look at the Body Shop website. The cream shown in Woolley’s post is still available. It is described as:

  • Skin feels smoother, more supple, and bouncier
  • ……… visibly more youthful looking skin
  • Dermatological tested – this again implies science and safety – although without any details of what the testing involved, or who did it – presumably the Body Shop themselves
  • Non-comedogenic – I had to look this up – it means the tendency to cause blackheads – again a very ‘sciency’ term

I noted the repetitive nature of the information – and the use of ‘good sounding’ plant names (actually inaccurate – they say 3, then list 4).

I am in the age group that this is aimed at, I could certainly do with extra youthful bounce! They clearly know who they are trying to attract, and, given their sales, are successful at doing so. Has looking at the ad in detail put me off buying the product? Unfortunately, possibly not.

I took the opportunity to look at Woolley’s website where she describes her artwork as ‘a feminist critique of consumer culture’. She now works partly in still life as a blogger had assumed she was male and completely misinterpreted one of her series. I suspect that would give any female (whether feminist or not) pause for thought, and then screaming outrage, although, of course, in the past, often the only way to get your work looked at was to pretend to be male. I would have been interested to read her chapter in ‘Bodies in Flux’ – but unfortunately it is not available via the UCA library. One of her recent series – Consumed: stilled lives again looks at the impact that advertisements have on our lives, and the concerning fact that as selfies act as adverts so adverts become more reliant on human-like characteristics to be attractive/effective.

Reference list:

Drops Of YouthTM Youth Cream (s.d.) At: https://www.thebodyshop.com/en-gb/face/moisturisers/drops-of-youth-youth-cream/p/p000665 (Accessed on 11 May 2020)

Woolley, D. (2017) Looking at adverts: 17 | The Open College of the Arts. At: https://www.oca.ac.uk/weareoca/film/looking-adverts-17/ (Accessed on 11 May 2020)

Woolley, D. (s.d.) Dawn Woolley – HOME. At: http://www.dawnwoolley.com/ (Accessed on 11 May 2020)

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