Let's begin with this.
Instagram influencer Matt Bernstein is normalizing gender and sexuality through cosmetic arts. While covering his body with rainbow accents and quotes he spreads awareness on a variety of social issues. While scrolling through his page, the post above caught my eye as well as the eye of the popular Instagram account, 'feminist.' With a following of 2.2 million, it is probable Bernstein's post made some noise.
His post focuses on the use of gender differences as an advertising technique. The common phrase 'sex sells' has been the thought process of many product producers when advertising their products. A more provocative image is more likely to attract a customer to a product. However, Bernstein is changing the narrative suggesting that gender is taking over the advertising world rather than an erotic presentation.
The post by 'feminist' is captioned "unnecessary gendered shit," and that is exactly what they are showing. The portrayal of gender in our society is so incredibly narrow that industries use this binary to market their products to the so-called appropriate audience. Girls are dainty princesses and boys are tough athletes. Our society enforces this ideology to the point where we all believe we must embody this narrative because straying from it would be catastrophic to our social status. Because of course, we know those who go outside the binary box are labeled as gay, a fag, or a dyke.
Since this mentality is so firmly ingrained into our brains, we feed off of the products that are said to represent us. Buying your daughter a pink princess crayon set while you buy your son a truck themed set. Or buying her products that imply that girls are just meant to be a pretty face. Getting him a snack that advertises itself as a food for "tough guys only." Although seemingly simple actions, they have greater implications.
Dividing boys and girls into blue and pink sections from birth is only one piece to the puzzle. The helpless damsel in distress theme constantly advertised only teaches girls that they are vulnerable in the hands of a man. While those boys are taught that they hold all the power and strength. The youth that choose not to conform to this gender binary system are harassed and bullied more often than not.
Although this controversy is not something new, the more I see it, the more I become engulfed with frustration. The more I see women advertised as just a pretty face, I become angry. The more I see boys encouraged to police their masculinity, I become hopeless. I just know we are better than this. I refuse to one day raise my children in a society that adamantly polices gender, even if it is just something as seemingly simple as a box of crayons.