I’m sure many of you have seen this commercial of a young girl putting lipstick and eye shadow on a young boy where the mother immediately reacts by saying, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” Reading this “Tomboy” entry reminded me how much gendering is going on in our media. I have taken gender and women studies classes and sociology classes where I came to the conclusion that gender is sexually constructed.
This video, featuring 2 Caucasian kids and a 1 caucasian mom, only lasts fifteen seconds but has a pretty powerful message. The commercial starts with the young girl telling the boy that he “looks good,” then showing the mother come in with a laundry basket asking “what are you doing.” With her laundry basket in hand, it shows the maternal figure of one to nurture as her son is obviously being unsupervised. Her surprised expression shows that she has been culturally shaped into thinking that make up on a male is not normal or appropriate. When the young girl responds, “fighting cavities,” it is supposed to make the situation better. The narrator continues to say, “Whatever they're doing, when kids are chewing Trident, at least they're helping fight cavities.” This caption seems to recognize that this image may not be the most common, but that its acceptable as long as they are chewing Trident. I have mixed feelings on this commercial because I like the end message that it doesn’t matter what they’re doing, as long as they’re happy. Happy in this case may mean just the act of playing with friends or exploring with make up. It is expected that advertisers will play to society’s unfamiliarity with this situation in hopes of catching their attention to the television when this commercial comes up. Either way, I’ve seen this commercial over three times and I don’t watch that much television to begin with. Go figure.