Beauty Is Nothing Without Brains

This commercial for Mercedes-Benz features a woman in a library who asks for fast food, is made aware that she is in a library, and then proceeds to ask for fast food again in a quieter voice.  The tagline of the advertisement is “beauty is nothing without brains”.  There are mostly men in background, which indicates that men are the only ones smart enough to be in the library for the correct purpose.  The audience for this advertisement is clearly men, and the woman in the advertisement is meant to be mocked and ridiculed.

The value this advertisement is trying to sell is that being attractive is not sufficient; you must also be smart to be desirable.  This initially seems to contrast with Kilbourne’s examples where advertisements tried to convince women that beauty is the only aspect of their lives that is of significance.  However, the way this advertisement portrays this message is incredibly demeaning and objectifying.  This advertisement puts a woman in a situation that would require unparalleled stupidity to occur in real life, and then compares her to a car.  This commercial tries to tell us that a car is worth more than this woman because it has beauty and brains.  The tagline also suggests that you need beauty AND brains if you are a woman and just intelligence will not suffice.  However, this advertisement is realistic in its portrayal of a “beautiful” woman because the woman ordering the fast food has a healthy body image, she does not appear too skinny, and her clothing is not revealing.

After examining this ad, it is clear that it embodies the messages that Kilbourne spoke about in her documentary – that women are made to be objects of beauty and nothing more.

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1 Response to Beauty Is Nothing Without Brains

  1. sarahe245 says:

    I actually think the way the ad portrays “beautiful” women is problematic. She is thin, white, has blonde hair, and is wearing a dress. The woman working at the library is supposed to be smart but unattractive (as you said, nothing in the ad is supposed to be both smart AND beautiful but the Mercedes, so they intended the librarian, who is smart, to be unattractive). They show her as heavier with black, messy hair and manlier clothing. The ad is conforming to a stereotypical image of what is beautiful and what is not.

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