Publication Date

2017-05-05

Availability

Open access

Embargo Period

2017-05-05

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PHD)

Department

Communication Studies (Communication)

Date of Defense

2017-04-06

First Committee Member

Wanhsiu Sunny Tsai

Second Committee Member

Alyse Lancaster

Third Committee Member

Christina Lane

Fourth Committee Member

George Wilson

Abstract

This dissertation investigates how bicultural-identified Latina and Asian American women interpret, negotiate, and utilize American beauty advertising in their identities as well as provides analysis concerning the broader marketplace ideologies embedded in the texts. This work is two-fold, utilizing critical textual analysis to examine advertisements featuring Latina and Asian women to then inform the questions for in-depth interviews between myself and 60 self-identified bicultural Asian and Latina American women. Under the paradigm of cultural studies, I utilized critical cultural theory, rhetorical agency, distinctiveness theory, and visual representation theory. In the in-depth interview section, I found that this burgeoning group of women experience simultaneous empowerment and disenfranchisement within beauty advertising. Specifically, Latinas feel that beauty advertising is a space in which they are glorified and yet commodified as sexual objects while Asian women still struggle with a sense of invisibility and disconnection. Latina American women are unique in that they seem to associate their beauty ideals and physical features as contributors and even originators of the new wave of American feminism and body acceptance. Meanwhile, Asian American women feel increasing pressure to participate in the rising national discourse on race placing them in a new double bind to remain the passive model minority and simultaneously follow the American trend of liberalism, advocacy, and outspokenness on behalf of one’s ethnicity and culture. Ethnic heritage plays an important role for both groups and implications for advertisers to tap into this crucial sense of identity are discussed. In the critical textual analysis, I observed new iterations or orientalism and tropicalism used as marketing strategies to appeal to White consumers instead of women of color. Also, the variability of skin color for Latinas and Asian women is narrow, causing a disconnect between Asian and Latina consumers who do not match the light or dark skinned ideals purveyed in American beauty ads.

Keywords

Advertising; Beauty; Qualitative; Interview; Critical Cultural Studies; Consumer Culture Theory

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