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Opinion Editorials

Stop with “female empowerment” already (editorial)

Dove’s body positivity, Brawny’s #StrengthHasNoGender, Aerie’s #AerieReal, and Always’ #LikeaGirl are just a few examples of female empowerment campaigns that are seeking to make a profit off of real issues

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When feel good marketing doesn’t feel good anymore

Women’s issues have been a popular marketing tactic, with overall femvertising on the rise as a way to attract female consumers. With Mother’s Day having come and gone, the tear-inducing, heartstring tugging ads targeted specifically at motherhood have been especially popular (and effective on this mother of two), because we all know if she’s not crying, she’s not buying. Beyond tears, there’s one other area of marketing that seem to be targeted at women – girl power and empowerment.


But… empowerment is positive, right?

Empowerment, on the surface, doesn’t seem like a horrible concept. Who can be upset with the idea of building someone up, encouraging them to go out and achieve their dreams? Nothing… except the fact they’re only targeting women.

Dove’s body positivity, Brawny’s #StrengthHasNoGender, Aerie’s #AerieReal, and Always’ #LikeaGirl are just a few examples of female empowerment campaigns that are seeking to make a profit off of real issues.

Where are all the male empowerment ads?

Advertising agencies aren’t pouring their time and money into ads that seek to build men up or encourage them to reach for the stars. That’s because the ones doing the empowering are already empowered.

Instead women are told to “lean in” (when they should instead be pushing for equal pay) and serious issues of inequality, body image, rape, and poverty are given hashtags, while pointing you to the paper towel aisle.

Stop pretending this is changing anything

I’m not anti-feminism; I’m actually quite the opposite (and you probably are, too). I’m supportive of diverse advertising, targeting differing audiences. I’m supportive of some ads being aligned with male or female issues. I’m not ok with marketing tactics that spew the message of empowerment but are essentially exacerbating a larger issue.

Maybe instead of spending millions of dollars telling women they’re beautiful despite their body shape, hair type, or skin color, while pushing their bar of soap, companies could work towards combatting deceptive advertising tactics influencing body image. Instead of making an ad showing a successful businesswoman, who is also a mother, help lobby for paid parental leave and better family benefits.

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All about the bottom line

In the end, it’s all about the bottom line. Despite the marketing tactics, companies are using advertising dollars to make money. Stop trying to pretend you’re working toward a common good or social change, when women’s issues and inequalities are helping your profits.


Written By

Megan Noel, a veteran ex-educator with a PhD in Early Childhood Education, enjoys researching life through the eyes of her two young children, while writing about her family’s adventures on With a nearly a decade in small business and marketing, this freelance writer spends most evenings pouring over new ideas and writing articles, while indulging in good food and better wine.

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