Caring for your home and children were fundamental concerns for Victorian women. Companies idealized this perception of women through their advertisements, in the hopes that women alike would feel compelled to buy their products. In a way the advertisements suggested that if women didn’t buy their products, they were either bad caretakers of their home, and therefore bad wives, or inadequate caretakers of their children, and thus, bad mothers. This rationale inspired Loeb’s Consuming Angels: Advertising and Victorian Women. The perception of women as “angels” of their household is misleading, especially with the advertisements depiction of them as being rather masculine and self-sufficient. This text also puts a spotlight on the middle-class and the growing impact consumerism attained.
My favorite advertisement within this reading continues to be the Grecian woman for Matchless Metal Polish because of its feminist qualities. Portraying women as Greek goddesses served as a motif for advertisements alike. This Matchless woman is depicted as especially strong, and is not subjected to any levels of subordination. She appears to have slain other people, or products, in a public area. The shield she grasps is the top to the polish which is both a) indulgent and b) highly unrealistic.
Regardless, this ad is genius. It makes consumers feel like they cannot live without this product, while recognizing women in a public sphere. It is important to note that women were very much targets in the eyes of the companies. In addition, the middle-class as a whole became targets as well:
” The buyers of the world are the great MIDDLE CLASS PEOPLE- the man and woman in good or fairly well-to-do circumstances. These people are the backbone of every city and every country. These are the men who have built the houses and the shops, the women and men who fill the churches and make life worth living and upon whose children rest the future of every nation under the sun” (Consuming Angels).
After reading this segment of the book, I realized how nothing really has changed regarding the ways in which companies sought out to sell their products. Consumers become entranced with the products, i.e. informercials, and feel compelled to buy the products.
Consumerism seems to want mothers to compete over their levels of maternity to their children. Without certain products, it seems, companies suggest her incompetency in being a mother. Here is an example of an ad made in 1993: