Female Empowerment – Lost in Translation

Women empowerment has become a trending topic, especially in the last few years, spurred on by the #Time’sUp and #MeToo movements. In fact, marketing around women’s empowerment reached a fever pitch as many brands jumped on the femvertising bandwagon, claiming to “recognize” the value,  influence, strength and intellectual capacity of women.

While incorporating women’s empowerment messaging into ad campaigns can raise awareness about issues impacting women, companies need to be held accountable for their own business practices. There’s no fooling or faking today’s well-informed, media-savvy consumers who can see right through inauthentic messaging. You have to wonder sometimes about some of these ads.  Do  makeup, hair and fashion brands define female empowerment?

Brands that deal with fashion and makeup items tend to focus on enhancing one’s physical appearance rather than female empowerment. There is absolutely nothing wrong with promoting beauty and fashion products but looking good is not a requirement to change the world, right? These brands should instead use their platforms for more effective messaging to inspire women to embrace their inner beauty. More often than not, beauty, fashion and skincare companies claim to be allies of the movement for marketing purposes, rather than “authentically” advocate for women’s rights and empowerment. 

While skimming through my weekly reading en route to the office, I came across a recent opinion piece by Surekha Ragavan, PRWeek’s Asia Editor. Brands, she says are “conflating awareness and representation with empowerment, and thus over-exhausting the empowerment muscle for profit. Instead of overselling a bloated, utopian concept, maybe they should first evaluate if it’s something they are willing to work for”. It’s really an interesting read. Check out Surekha’s article How brands are diluting the meaning of empowerment” here.

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