This one is from the UK; normally I try to choose advertisements from the United States, but in this case I think the cultural messages at play are relevant.

The advertisement takes us on a journey through a woman's life, from infancy through old age. Throughout most of the advertisement, she is placed in the context of a family- in fact, is the center of the family. As the commercial opens, we see her plucked from her crib by a women in stereotypically feminine clothing (whose face we do not see- we know her as a maternal entity, but nothing more) and set down to play. The child wears a frilly-sleeved pinkish top with flowers and butterflies on it (in other words, extremely gendered clothing). She crawls through a tunnel, and emerges at the other end, older and wearing a red and white gingham dress (also extremely gender-specific clothing). As she climbs up into her school desk, we catch a glimpse of her pencil container - pink. Many of the other children in her classroom are raising their hands; she is not. We are then taken to a birthday party given in her honor- she wears a red dress, blows out candles atop a pink and white cake. I have to say, this birthday party looks INCREDIBLY fancy- teapot, petit fours, all sorts of teeny, adult-looking snacks. This is no working-class affair, I assume. We then move to a scene in which young adults celebrate some occasion in what looks to be the hallway of a college dorm. She's not wearing a dress, but she IS kissing her boyfriend; our heroine is definitely straight. (props, I guess, for including SOME people of color at this point, though they are definitely background characters, even by background characters' standards).

Next, of course, we see our heroine getting married in a somewhat formal-looking ceremony (white dress for the bride, suit for the groom). The couple moves into a home (we see the woman opening the refrigerator and catch a bonus shot of her wedding band) and as she pulls back from the fridge, pizza slice in hand, we note that she is pregnant. There is a scene depicting two children and the woman and her husband together in the living room, and then we move to a scene with the woman in the kitchen yet again, talking on the phone and baking something with her daughter (the son is nowhere to be seen). As she gets older, we see her in the kitchen AGAIN, grabbing a pitcher of some sort of beverage to bring out to the family. At the end of the commercial, she is seen with her husband taking her grandchildren out to play.

Did she do anything with that college degree we assume she received (at least, that's what I figured the celebration in the dorm was about)? Who knows. All we really know is that her life followed an extremely well-worn path: school, love, marriage, THEN kids (heaven forbid kids come before marriage), then kids' kids. Her life is defined by her role in her family (which, for those of you who were paying attention, includes lots of time in the kitchen). We're supposed to feel like we have followed this woman on the journey of her life, but we really know almost nothing about her except that she is a wife, a mother, a grandmother.

And we all know how many products wives and mothers and grandmothers need to purchase to successfully care for those families, right? Hmm.

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