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The Power of Perception: A Look at Advertising and Image

In this activity, students will explore how advertising affects public perceptions.



1. Read the articles in Session 2: Women at Home. Discuss the article “Changing Images: Three Devereux Sisters.”

2. Discuss the following vocabulary words: perception, self-esteem, stereotype, mass media, and ideology/ideals. Add other words you deem appropriate.

3. Divide the class into two or three groups. Assign each group one of the following sets of advertisements to view online (or print out each ad and distribute to the groups):

1920s advertisements: 
Keep That Wedding Day Complexion, 1922
A Mother’s Duty, 1925

1930s advertisements: 
Some of Our Most Expensively Gowned Women Have B.O., 1937
I Learned from a Beauty Expert How to Hold My Husband, 1932

1940s advertisements: 
Today Men Like Their Women Healthy, 1947
Busy? Stay Lovely, Too!, 1943

1950s advertisements: 
Beauty Is My Business, 1953
Let Your Beauty Be Seen, 1951

4. Distribute one copy of the Advertising an Image worksheet to each group. Have the students answer the questions on the worksheet.

5. Ask the groups to present their findings. Allow time for the groups to compare their advertisements after the presentations.