Jean Kilbourne Public Lecture

The Naked Truth: Advertising’s Image of Women

Jean Kilbourne, Ed.D

Advertising is an over $250 billion a year industry in North America and we each are exposed to over 3000 ads a day.  Its influence is pervasive, often subtle, and mostly subconscious.  Yet, remarkably, most of us believe we are not influenced by advertising.  Ads sell a great deal more than products.  They sell values, images, and concepts of success and worth, love and sexuality, popularity and normalcy. They teach us a great deal about gender and race.

In this presentation Dr. Kilbourne marshals a range of advertisements to reveal a stunning pattern of disturbing and destructive gender stereotypes – images and messages that too often reinforce unrealistic, and unhealthy, perceptions of beauty, perfection, and sexuality. Reviewing if and how the image of women has changed over the past 30 years, Dr. Kilbourne explores the relationship of these images to actual problems in the society, such as violence, the sexual abuse of children, rape and sexual harassment, teenage pregnancy, discrimination, and eating disorders.

Clearly illustrating how these distorted and destructive images affect men as well as women, she challenges us to take advertising seriously, and to think critically about popular culture and its relationship to broader issues of identity, sexism, and violence.  Entertaining, fast-paced, sometimes hilarious, the presentation is also profound and deeply serious. Dr. Kilbourne is known for her ability to present provocative topics in 
a way that unites rather than divides and that encourages dialogue. With expert knowledge, insight, humor, and commitment, she moves and empowers people to take action in their own and in society’s interest.

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