It’s Just All About the Bass

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


4 thoughts on “It’s Just All About the Bass

  1. ambersbored says:

    Cool post on semiotics you have here Alannah!
    I really like the approach you’ve taken here… Although VERY important the sexual objectification of women in the media is a very topical issue which allows a hell of a lot of content to be created on the issue. I appreciate the serious yet lighthearted manner in which you’ve went about writing this blogpost – and by using humour it kept myself (and I’m sure others) engaged and interested. The use of rhetorical questions too, allow readership to interpret what you’re saying and further impose the topic your talking about to be thought about.
    Nice read and I too, like you don’t know why people just can’t appreciate the booty for what it is!!


  2. melstje says:

    Agreeing with Amber here! I really enjoyed reading your post. I too looked at the representation of the human body. It’s seems quite trivial how the media provides controversial content to the public and can sometimes totally get away with it. The American Apparel advert you focussed on does this perfectly. I mean really? Why do people sexualise something we poop out of? Full marks on this seamless read. It was witty and informative. I even laughed out loud at your rhyme, ‘petite derrière in stripey underwear’. I found it very… cheeky. Keep up with the good content!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s