Purpose – The purpose of this study was to investigate how Chinese adolescent girls and boys construct their own ideal female images in response to gendered advertisements based on Arnett’s (1995) theory of self-socialization and Hirschman and Thompson’s (1997) three interpretive strategies. A qualitative interview study was conducted for this purpose.
Design/methodology/approach – Altogether, 32 adolescents aged 15-19 living in 16 different provinces in China were recruited for a face-to-face interview. Three advertisements were shown depicting an elegant woman, an urban sophisticated female and a strong woman, and interviewees were asked to describe the appearance, the personality and the work and family life of the female character in each advertisement. They were asked to choose one of them as most closely representing their ideal female image.
Findings – The interviewees constructed their ideal female images from the advertisement that best suited their ideal appearance, personality and work and family life. Female interviewees aspired to be like the elegant woman, identified with the urban sophisticated female and rejected the strong woman in the ads. Male interviewees appreciated the urban sophisticated female but rejected the strong woman.
Research limitations/implications – With just 32 interviewees, the generalizability of the findings is limited. Practical implications – Female central characters in advertisements should be pilot-tested among the target audience to maximize levels of aspiration and identification. Originality/value – This is the first study to examine ideal female images from gendered advertisements among adolescent boys and girls in China.
Scopus Subject Areas
- Business and International Management
- Consumer perception
- Gender roles
- Media effects
- Qualitative study