A picture can paint a thousand words just as words can paint a thousand pictures, but when both picture and word coincide, does that make possibility for two thousand meanings?
In the case of semiotics, this could very well be true. What is semiotics? WELL! You’re in for a treat!
Simply, semiotics is the study of signs and symbols. Understanding sign and symbols is often an unacknowledged, automatic occurrence. Signs and symbols are riddled within out lives, some obtaining obvious universal meaning (the sex of a public bathroom) and some being more complex, cause for individual perception.
But how is it that we create understanding from signs? Signifiers and signified. In more detail, a signifier is what is physically represented in a sign, whereas the signified is the connotations and understanding we associate with the physical image .
Now before I cause you to drift off into a lifelong daydream… I will explain using this image of a butt:
Within this advert by American Apparel, both the signified and signifier have caused me to find this image daring, enraging…yet slightly humorous. Alone the signifier – “Stuff this. Stocking stuffers and Hanukkah hits”, holds connotation that the brand is promoting gifts for the holiday season. However, when paired with the signified image of a females petite derrière in stripey underwear, it denotes the necessity for females to have a large butt, or preferably known, ‘booty’.
In my understanding, the advert supports the appearance expectations of today’s culture. Kim Kardashian, Niki Minaj, Beyoncé and J-Lo, (just to name a few members of the celebrity community), all have massive ‘booties’ which unite them all as icons of sexual desire and beauty. The image featured is quite the opposite, and alone could be signified as empowering the small butted woman, yet it typically is displayed negatively with addition of two short words: Stuff this. What’s wrong with the small butt featured in this advert? According to American Apparel, it should be ‘stuffed’… But will this really amount to praise by society? Why can’t every bottom just live in peace without being judged on their size?!
Alternatively, with underwear being a common ‘traditional’ gift found in a christmas stocking, the advert provides a clever wit in it’s approach. Yet frankly, I find this controversial image objectifying women as elements of sexual desire.
So what does it matter that she has a small bottom? She could have the face of Miranda Kerr and a heart of gold for all we know…
– Larn X