Killing Us Softly 4: Advertising’s Image of Women

“Only 8% of an ad’s message is received by the conscious mind. The rest is worked and reworked deep within the recesses of the brain.” – Rance Crain, Former Senior Editor, Advertising Age.

This highly anticipated update of Jean Kilbourne’s influential and award-winning Killing Us Softly series, the first in more than a decade, takes a fresh look at American advertising and discovers that the more things have changed, the more they’ve stayed the same. Breaking down a staggering range of more than 160 print and television ads, Kilbourne uncovers a steady stream of sexist and misogynistic images and messages, laying bare a world of frighteningly thin women in positions of passivity, and a restrictive code of femininity that works to undermine girls and women in the real world. At once provocative and inspiring, Killing Us Softly 4 stands to challenge yet another generation of students to take advertising seriously, and to think critically about its relationship to sexism, eating disorders, gender violence, and contemporary politics.

Jean Kilbourne, Ed.D. is internationally recognized for her groundbreaking work on the image of women in advertising and for her critical studies of alcohol and tobacco advertising. In the late 1960s she began her exploration of the connection between advertising and several public health issues, including violence against women, eating disorders, and addiction, and launched a movement to promote media literacy as a way to prevent these problems. A radical and original idea at the time, this approach is now mainstream and an integral part of most prevention programs. Her films, lectures and television appearances have been seen by millions of people throughout the world.

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