Dec 20, 2018

Exploring the History of Subliminal Racism in Ivory Soap Commercials

– As diseases and death skyrocketed due to the lack of accessible sanitary programs, the Eugenics movement swept in and latched on to the pollution panic. By defining “purity” as what one is not, as well as maintaining that white is the norm, one had defined whiteness as the pure norm and any other race as the other-ed filth (Berthold 14). page 2

-She is in the commercial because her boyfriend wrote to the Ivory company, stating that he believed Marcia was the perfect “Ivory girl”. This is one of the first examples of the “Ivory girl” being shown as an achievable symbol. “The Ivory girl” can be bought and created, as long as she is white. Marcia tells the viewers that she just loves learning about Ivory purity, because when she sees the commercials she just thinks, “That girl believes what I believe” (Procter & Gamble “Ivory Soap Commercial-1970’s”). Page 4

-Every white and white passing woman is seen in a simple white top before they are shown naked coquettishly covering their breasts; however, the black woman is never shown wearing clothing. The first time she appears on screen her back is to the camera, and she is only wearing a white necklace. There is a brief image with her smiling afterwards. In the next image, the woman is shown with a shirtless black man who has his arm around her; they both stand with their backs facing the camera. In the final image, she’s in the arms of the black man who is wearing a white shirt, but again, the woman is still naked (Procter & Gamble “Ivory Moisture Care”) page 5

-In fact, individuals who have weak feelings of identification with their race or culture have more positive attitudes towards ads featuring White models, no matter what their ethnic identification is (Morris and Kahlor 418). White people benefit from this finding on both ends, since individuals who have a stronger identification with their race have been found to have more positive attitudes towards ads featuring models from their ethnic group (418). page 6

by Anna Bloomfield

Read: Exploring the History of Subliminal Racism in Ivory Soap Commercials

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