Kylie Moore’s essay on the cultural and economic implications of depicting women as “cute” in Japanese advertising has won an award from the Advertising Educational Foundation. Each year the foundation gives its $1,000 Alfred J. Seaman prize to an undergraduate who writes the best essay on advertising and its role in society, history and the economy.
In her essay, “Not so Cute: The Dark Side of Kawaii Advertising,” Moore looks at a Japanese advertising trend that portrays women as adorable and childlike. Moore argues that this treatment infantilizes women and reinforces economic and workplace disparities between women and men in Japan.
Moore is part Japanese, and can speak the language. She grew up in Anchorage, Alaska, but still has family in Japan.
Moore wrote the essay in the fall for Introduction to Gender and Women’s Studies, taught by Jen Scanlon, who is Bowdoin’s William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of the Humanities in Gender and Women’s Studies. The AEF is paying for both Moore and Scanlon to travel to New York City on June 4 to receive the prize at the organization’s Honors Night Dinner.
Scanlon said Moore did a terrific job of exploring “the complications when women are defined, at various stages of life, by the degree to which they exhibit characteristics of cuteness, submission, youth, naiveté.” She added that Moore wrote a “smart paper, and the AEF recognized this.”
Moore, a neuroscience major, said Scanlon’s class inspired her to take a second women’s studies class in the spring, The History of Women’s Voice in America. It also piqued her interest in the possibility of a career in advertising. “I would like to change the way media portrays women,” she said. “The class opened my eyes to the techniques that advertisers use that can have negative consequences.”