The mute gestures of advertising images are frozen for posterity by photographers and illustrators, gestures that, for better or worse, perpetuate a certain aesthetic and eventually become emblematic of a period.
Today’s images display the values of a society that has more interest in the body than the mind. They represent unattainable appearances that leave women and men feeling horrified, estranged and restricted by unrealistic, silent mandates.
“Measuring Up” looks at advertising as more than just a way to extract money from unsuspecting people but as a vehicle for conveying the larger views of a confining, body-obsessed culture.
Shields examines a particular, complex relationship between the idealized images of gender we see in advertising and our own thoughts, feelings and behavior in relation to these images. The study is unique in presenting audience reactions in terms of ethnographic data, not in presenting textual interpretations alone.
“Measuring Up” engages with and informs current theoretical debates within these sometimes complementary and sometimes contradictory literatures: feminist media studies, feminist film theory, critical social theory, cultural studies and critical ethnography. This important work explores the forms and channels of power used in one of the most insidious and overt means of mass influence in popular culture.
—University of Pennsylvania Press
Originally published on April 11, 2002