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By Lori Lewis

As a major part of media, advertising also plays a role in helping formulate public opinions around beauty and in doing so, body image and self-esteem among the general public – particularly young girls and women.  It’s vital to highlight and encourage those who choose to market their product in a responsible and uplifting way relative to the self-image of their audience.

This month we raise a glass to The California Milk Processors Board (a.k.a. the “Got Milk” people) for their hugely successful campaign which features many empowering images of women.

As is often the case in doing these analysis, it must be noted – this advertiser hasn’t always gotten it right.  Some of its ads seem to use overtly sexy images – and indeed, it’s campaign for milk as a PMS cure has been rightfully decried as sexist  in nature.  And let’s not even get into concerns about unethical treatment of cows by the dairy industry.  However, it’s important to give praise where it’s due even if it comes down to very specific creatives within a larger campaign that is otherwise problematic.  How else will advertisers know what resonates with us vs. what we find offensive?

We’ve selected a dozen ads to highlight from among the seeming hundresds that are part of this massive campaign.  As you’ll see below (click to enlarge), actresses, singers, athletes and other professionals representing a variety of ethnic and age groups grace these ads.   These women depicted in powerful ways which celebrate their craft or sport – with strong bodies, confident milk-mustache laden smiles and messages about how milk helps them strive for – and reach their potential.  Emphasis is on how milk helps create healthy bodies, which the subjects of the ads use in pursuit and achievement of their dreams.

We encourage the Got Milk creative team to continue to push ads which focus on empowered images of women, vs. some of the more sexualized images they’ve included in the past.  And drop the sexist depiction of pre-menstural women…if milk does indeed provide relief for this affliction, great!  Teach us about it in a way that doesn’t belittle and marginalize us (and, frankly which doesn’t do much for men, either).

Left to right:  Demi Lovato, Dara Torres, Diana Taurasi, Lindsey Vonn, Flora Stitcher, Miranda Small, Susan Sarandon, Glenn Close, Jennifer Hudson, Jordin Sparks, Michelle Kwan, Shawn Johnson

Have you seen any ads which you feel are positive in their portrayal of women, and deserve the be featured in this column?  Please email us at goodstuff@seemagazine.org.