Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Media Studies

Reader 1

T. Kim-Trang Tran

Reader 2

Zala Volcic

Rights Information

© 2015 Katherine B. Marcus Reker


This thesis proposes a critical study of the techniques and motives behind modern commodity feminist advertising, focusing on the appropriation of the “young girl” as a symbol of the feminist cause. This evolving trend in advertising, building upon new movements of empowerment and the recent proliferation of the online feminist space, is shifting the logics of consumption by marketing feminist ideology and activism through consumer purchasing power. By prompting consumers to believe that their purchases can make a significant change, companies are developing brand loyalty in their key marketing demographics by using the image and rhetoric of the “young girl” to tap into a term I call “anti-nostalgia,” a nostalgia whereby women leverage the inherent sentimentality of childhood with a constructive understanding and rejection of the destructively sexist climate they experienced to combat these sociocultural conditions for future generations. Joining theoretical research on branding, user-generated content, and the neoliberal ideology of the consumer-citizen, I argue that these advertising campaigns, coupled with online spaces for public interaction and participation, effectively create channels for their target consumers to contribute to this commodified form of activism. In reality, however, these “feminist” purchases are simply forms of consumer self-therapy in a modern political climate of systemic gender discrimination.