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Magazine adverts continue to tell mothers to put caring for their families front and centre—and encourage them to devote all their knowledge to protecting and caring for them rather than for their own benefit or professional advancement.
A study of adverts in women's magazines since the 1950s found they present mothers with an idealised image of the 'knowing mother', where they are exhorted to put all their expertise to use in service to the family.
Researchers - University - Sydney - Lancaster - University
Researchers from the University of Sydney, Lancaster University, the University of Edinburgh, Monash University and St Gallen University studied advertisements in Australian Women's Weekly and Good Housekeeping, in the UK, for each decade between 1950 and 2010.
Their findings, published in the Journal of Consumer Culture, show that the visual representation of mothers as knowledgeable consumers for the whole family changed over the period, from being guided by experts to possessing expertise themselves.
Assumptions - Responsibilities - Advertisers - Terms - Responsibilities
However, assumptions about their responsibilities endured, as advertisers repeatedly positioned them in terms of their domestic responsibilities, such as cooking and cleaning, using their knowledge for family purposes and not necessarily for their own gain or professional pursuits.
"Knowing how to consume correctly for the family has become a major definer of female identity," said report lead author Professor Teresa Davis, of the University of Sydney Business School.
Caring - Mother - Images - Femininity - Advertising
"The caring mother is one of the most recurring images of femininity in post-war advertising. Representations of the good mother are especially evident in relation to her consumption for the family through her knowledge of cooking, caring and cleaning 'correctly'.
"The advertisements we looked at place an emphasis on what mothers can, should and need to know, inviting readers to compare themselves with the ideal they are presented with.
Shifts - Attitudes - Share - Role - Family
"Despite shifts in attitudes that appear to share the role of caring within a family, there exists an enduring assumption that mothers should...
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