Social Construction Exercise- Virginia Slims

4 Oct

Virginia Slims have long been advertised to be the woman cigarette. Women are expected by society to exude femininity and grace, however, that is rarely the image we get when we think about smoking. This ad is geared towards women because they are trying to portray an  image of being youthful, something coveted by many women, hence the cosmetic industry. Because of society’s expectations, women are constantly trying to look beautiful and a large part of it revolves around age and the maintenance of youth. Wrinkles, grey hair, and other signs of aging are frowned upon even though it is normal. This ad suggests that a woman who smokes these cigarettes can also look like the model. The fact that it advertises to be infused with vitamin E, makes it even more appealing. Vitamin E is in a lot of cosmetics and anti-aging skin care products. It is assumed that when a women sees “vitamin E” they know it’s good for them. Of course, everyone knows smoking is damaging towards one’s health. But these are different because it has vitamin E. It can’t be that bad for you, right?

Also, the design of the cigarette itself is supposed to be more appealing to women because slender and petite are things that often come to mind when thinking about femininity. Now, a woman can look pretty while smoking. Men on the other hand is less likely to change their buying preferences to this brand based on this ad because long, slender cigarettes are not “manly.” Men, having bigger hands than women, might find that the cigarette feels insubstantial while in their hands. The packaging of this brand used to be pink, a color most associated with femininity. Men might feel uncomfortable taking out a pink pack of cigarettes, whereas a women might actually find the color appealing.

Overall, this product is branded as feminine. It is quite clear why this would be more appealing to women than men. It is not because the cigarette is actually much different from others, but it’s because of societal conditioning that women may feel compelled to buy this brand over a brand that’s advertised as masculine.

-Diana Situ


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