Historical Ad Object

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When nail polish was first invented in around 3000 B.C., it was used for very different purposes than it is used for today. Back then, it was used by men and women in many different societies to distinguish between social classes. Now, it is used by women predominately for fashion purposes. Nail polish started to gain popularity in the fashion industry during the late 1930’s once companies began producing and advertising colored polishes. In this essay, I plan to examine this rise to popularity by analyzing the advertisements created during this time period.

The first advertisement I chose to examine is for Graf’s Hyglo nail polish powder from The New York Times on March 21, 1915. Although this advertisement isn’t for colored nail polish, I felt that it was important to look at because it plays a role in how colored nail polish advertisements were created. At the top of the page, in large print, the advertisement reads, “Exquisite Nails” and then there is a picture of a thin female hand with well-groomed nails. Directly following the picture, the advertisement gives the name of the company and the product in large print. In much smaller print at the bottom of the page, it gives a description of what the product does and how to buy it. The description at the bottom of the advertisement and the picture of the hand make it clear that the company is targeting a female audience. By placing a female hand in the center of the advertisement instead of a man’s hand or a more ambiguous looking hand, Graf is attempting to draw attention from the women reading the paper, not the men. In the paragraph describing what the polish does, the adjectives used seem to be chosen in order to entice women into buying the product. The polish is described as a “brilliant, transparent, lasting polish, delicately perfumed, daintily tinted and absolutely waterproof”. The words delicate and dainty stand out because they are uniquely feminine. Most women aspire to be described as delicate and dainty, whereas most men would rather be described as tough and strong. I think that this is the most compelling part of the ad, as it plays on women’s desires to be feminine. If Graf put a bigger emphasis on these adjectives rather than “exquisite nails”, I think that the rhetoric appeals of the advertisement would be more successful.

Revlon was the first company to create and advertise colored nail polish. The first advertisement I found is from 1945 and is advertising four new shades of matching nail polish and lipstick. It is important to note that the advertisement was created during World War II because it alludes to the war in many ways. The background picture of the advertisement is a very elegant looking woman wearing Revlon’s products with a large fluffy white poodle by her side. The advertisement gives the names of the new shades, which are “dynamite, pink lightning, cherry coke, and rosy future”. In large print, the advertisement reads, “Colors that change the ‘outlook’ of a nation!”. The description of the product in smaller print really focuses on America and changes in the country. For example, it claims that the shades “capture the mood of the moment” and that they are “keyed so cannily to the tempo and times of American taste”. All of the shades relate to war and American patriotism in different ways. Both dynamite and pink lightning refer to the sounds of war, while cherry coke and rosy future refer to American pride. I think that Revlon chose this strategy of advertising because of how the responsibilities of women changed during the war. Women began working in positions that had previously been reserved for men. Some women even served in the Army. I think that the advertisement tries to mirror this sense of feminine strength and capability. It claims that the shades will “dramatize the innermost YOU” and that they are “pace setters”. Revlon is linking their products with American pride in order to sell their product.

The final advertisement was made in 1950 for Avon’s collection of 13 lipstick and matching nail polish shades. A close-up picture of a beautiful woman wearing nail polish and lipstick that match the rose that she is holding takes up the majority of the ad. There is also a description of the collection at the bottom, followed by an illustration of each lipstick and it’s matching nail polish. The italics used in the description are meant to draw the reader’s attention to certain phrases. The three phrases that Avon chose to italicize are, “feels so good”, “doesn’t dry your lips” and “wears beautifully”. This shows that Avon is really focusing on product quality and glamour in this ad. They also emphasize the versatility of the product by showing how the different shades would look good on different people and with different outfits.  The woman wearing the products is also a symbol of glamour because she is wearing huge diamond earrings and her makeup is done perfectly. The rose she is holding symbolizes love and classic beauty.

Looking at these three advertisements together, it is clear why the nail polish industry has been completely dominated by women. While there is nothing inherently gendered about nail polish, most companies have never tried advertising towards men. Take Graf’s Hyglo nail polish powder for example. It is clear from their advertisement that they are targeting women, yet their polished isn’t even colored.   By only targeting this female audience, they miss out on the potential market of men who would use this clear polish because they want well-groomed nails. The second advertisement by Revlon is also targeting women, but in a different way. Compared to the first ad, the second advertisement is targeting a much stronger, more independent woman. However, we must consider that a lot of men were away at war when it came out. While the men were at war, the role of women in America changed considerably. So I think it is fitting that the advertisement by Revlon targets a much more powerful and influential woman than Graf’s dainty and delicate woman. The third advertisement by Avon resembles the first advertisement in the sense that it is targeting a much more passive and submissive woman. Although the three advertisements may differ in how they try and appeal to women, they all have one thing in common. All three advertisements focus on women’s insecurities by targeting women who might be vulnerable about their appearance. These nail polish advertisements try to entice women by making them think that they must have the nail polish in order to be perceived as beautiful.

Works Cited:

  1. “Avon Brings You 13 Shades in Color-last Lipstick and Matching Nail Polish” Advertisement. 1950. Duke U. Rare Book and Manuscript Lib. Ad*Access. Web. 4 Dec. 2014.
  2. “Exquisite Nails” Advertisement. The New York Times 21 Mar. 1915. ProQuest Historical Newspapers. Web. 12 Sep. 2014.
  3. Revlon Products Corporation. “Colors that Change the ‘Outlook’ of a Nation!” Advertisement. Sunday News. Duke U. Rare Book and Manuscript Lib. Ad*Access. Web. 4 Dec. 2014.

Nature vs. Culture

The article, “The End of Food”, by Lizzie Widdicomb examines a tech entrepreneur, Rob Rhinehart, and his product Soylent. After Rhinehart and some fellow entrepreneurs ran out of money while working on a technology startup, Rhinehart realized how expensive nutrient rich food could be. He tried eating cheap and unhealthy food for every meal but found that it made him feel terrible. He also tried eating cheap but healthy food for every meal, but found that he was left hungry. That is how he came up with the idea of Soylent, a food creation that incorporates all of the nutrients necessary to survive into one product. In order to create Soylent, he looked at the raw chemical components of food such as carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals, proteins, and lipids and studied the nutrients required for survival. After combining all of these “ingredients”, he began to live on Soylent. According to Rhinehart, his food costs dropped drastically and he noticed many health benefits.

While Rhinehart notes the distinction between meals for utility and function versus meals for experience and socialization, he definitely focuses on making eating more efficient. He values the nutritional value of food more than the cultural value. According to Rhinehart, the real value of food lies in the nutrients it offers us. He relates Soylent to water. Although water doesn’t have much taste, it is the most popular liquid because it is necessary to survive. He believes that Soylent can become the solid version of water since it also doesn’t have much taste, yet as far as he knows, it has all of the nutrients necessary to survive. While other forms of meal replacement liquids have been around for a long time, Rhinehart believes his product is different because it is aimed at efficiency rather than specified health benefits. For example, products like Muscle Milk do not aim to replace food altogether, instead they aim to help people bulk up. Rhinehart also sees the environmental benefits of Soylent. Livestock on farms cause a lot of greenhouse-gas emissions, which lead to climate change. If Rhinehart succeeds in creating an algae that produces Soylent and popularizing it, factories and farms wouldn’t be necessary.

While I could definitely see using Soylent at times when I need to save money and be efficient with my time, such as exam weeks, I could never see replacing a majority of my meals with this product. Personally, I value the experience of eating a meal more than I value the dietary worth. However, I think it is possible to have both an enjoyable and nutritional meal without Soylent. Eating a good meal can be expensive and take up a lot of time, but as Widdicomb says, “meals provide punctuation to our lives: we’re constantly recovering from them, anticipating them, riding the emotional ups and downs of a good or bad sandwich”. If Soylent were to become our main source of nutrition, the human experience would be very different. Imagine a world where all the restaurants we love close down because they can’t afford to stay in business, or a world where we no longer gather with family and friends to share the experience of an amazing meal. Just because humans could sustain on Soylent, doesn’t mean we should sustain on Soylent.


Widdicombe, Lizzie. “The End of Food.” The New Yorker. N.p., 12 May 2014. Web. 21 Nov. 2014.

Sea Level Rising




  1. https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2590/3899191256_86d80c061c_b.jpg
  2. http://santamonicabeachmom.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/santa-monica-pier-california.jpg
  3. http://freeaussiestock.com/free/Queensland/whitsundays/slides/whitsunday_ocean_passage.jpg
  4. https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2271/2272308142_367644fb2c_z.jpg?zz=1
  5. https://c1.staticflickr.com/3/2378/1799153041_35da4b8655_z.jpg?zz=1
  6. https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/50/135443462_d41db2e9ba_z.jpg?zz=1


  1. “Sea Level Rise.” National Geographic. National Geographic Society, n.d. Web. 14 Nov. 2014.

The “Spike Away”


One of the objects Sara Hendren profiles on her blog, Abler, is the “Spike Away”. At first glance, one might think that the vest is some sort of fashion statement. However, the vest really was designed as a mechanism of creating personal space. The picture on the blog shows a woman wearing the “Spike Away” on what seems to be some sort of public transportation system. The vest is made up of several panels of bright green spikes that cover the front, back, and side of the woman.

I can’t imagine the spikes would be sharp enough to seriously injure someone but just the thought of spikes elicits fear. When I think of spikes, I think of pain or fighting. The “Spike Away” even reminds me of armor used for battle. This aspect of the object definitely succeeds at separating the individual wearing the vest from strangers. However, the bright green color of the vest could potentially defeat the purpose of it. The fact that it comes in bright colors makes it look like a bold fashion statement. This kind of statement could attract more attention to the user.  In the picture, the people surrounding the woman wearing the vest clearly notice it and are shocked by it.

While I don’t like crowded places with strangers infringing on my personal space, I probably would never use this object. I would rather be uncomfortable or just leave the crowded place than attract unwanted attention. I could only imagine wearing the “Spike Away” if it becomes popular, though I hope that doesn’t happen. I think that this would create an extremely unfriendly and closed off society. In general, people tend to isolate themselves from strangers naturally. For example, on public transportation, if there is an empty seat next to a person or an empty seat in an empty row, people tend to take the empty seat in an empty row. The “Spike Away” would only intensify this problem.


One part of college visits that never appealed to me was the dorm room tour. Half of the schools I looked at took us into a dorm and showed us a model room, while the other half took us into a dorm and showed us an actual students room. The model rooms felt staged and fake while the actual students rooms were usually pretty messy and gross. Either way, I didn’t really get a good feel for dorm living. I remember when I went to the admitted students day that Emory hosted, they showed us around Dobbs Hall and I did not like it. It was so dark and gloomy that it felt like a dungeon to me. Later that day, I was touring the campus with a family friend and I asked him what dorm he lived in his freshman year. He told me that he lived in Evans and I asked which ones were considered the best. He said that Few, Evans, and Longstreet-Means were all pretty new but that most of the first-year housing was nice. He also told me that there was no way for incoming freshman to request certain dorms because it was all based on a survey we had to fill out. I immediately took out my phone and wrote down everything he had said in my notes.

I had no idea that this conversation would actually help me figure out where I would live until it was time to fill out the first-year housing survey. By this point, I had already figured out who my roommate was. We had met through a mutual friend and she told me that really wanted to live in Evans Hall because her cousin told her it was the best dorm. However, I had no idea how to get into a specific hall, so I began to research. The first thing I did was Google “first-year housing Emory University”. That lead me to the residence life and housing page on the Emory website and I clicked until I got to a page titled “Housing Options for Incoming First-Year Students”. I looked through all eight options and read about all of the different amenities for each hall. I looked mostly at Evans Hall to make sure that it had everything I wanted. I saw that it had air conditioning, sinks in every room and each floor was grouped co-ed so I knew I would be happy living there. The next thing I did was look at the housing survey that we had to fill out in order to be placed in a dorm. It was a series of two statements and we had to pick which one we valued the most. I noticed that many of them had to do with sustainability, learning about different cultures and creativity. I went back to the housing options for first-year students page and saw that each hall had a theme and that the theme for Evans was “living green: sustainability in the 21st century”.

With all this information that I had gathered, I filled out the survey, making sure to emphasize how important the environment was to me. A few months later, I found out that I would in fact be living in Evans Hall. This news made me very excited to move in and start college. However, I had no idea what an impact the theme housing would have on the way I lived. My high school was very environmentally friendly and we often had lectures on sustainability but it wasn’t until I moved in to Evans Hall that I really found ways to minimize my negative effects on earth. Without all of the research I did on first-year housing, I would have never learned so much about sustainable living.


The movie Her made me question the role technology plays in my life. A key part of the movie is Theodore’s job writing for a company called “Beautiful Handwritten Letters.” People pay the company to write letters and send them to their loved ones. Throughout the movie, Theodore’s letters are constantly praised for being particularly beautiful and emotional. In the opening scene, he composes a letter for a couple’s 50th wedding anniversary. Later on, he talks about a college graduation letter he sent a boy from his parents and admits that he started writing to the boy on his twelfth birthday. These examples lead me to think the members of the audience are supposed to be upset by the industry that this company has created. However I think our reaction to this industry depends completely on the role we believe technology should play in our lives. Personally, the movie showed me how technology can hinder my human relationships.

There is something very tragic to me about the letters that Theodore writes. It is sad to think that after 50 years of marriage, a woman couldn’t even write her husband a letter expressing her love for him. It is also sad that parents couldn’t write their son a letter to show how proud they are of his accomplishments.

From the beginning of the movie, it is very clear that Theodore is still in love with his wife and that he does not want to get a divorce. He constantly dreams about their relationship and has flashbacks to their great memories together. However, he never tells his wife how he feels. His only coping mechanism is to avoid signing the divorce papers. We know he is capable of expressing deep thoughts because the letters he write at work are constantly praised for being particularly beautiful and emotional. Unfortunately, he is only able to express these feelings towards other peoples loved ones and not his own. He has to hide behind the anonymity of his computer and rely on the fact that those receiving the letters have no idea that he wrote them.

It is only after he starts dating Samantha that he gains the courage to sign the divorce papers. Samantha gives him hope that he can feel new emotions, emotions that he didn’t even feel for his wife. However, Theodore doesn’t realize that Samantha is talking to over 8,000 people at the same time as she is talking to him. When he finds out that she is in love with 641 other humans, he is distraught. He thought that what they had was unique, like a human relationship.

After Samantha leaves him, we see a glimpse of hope for Theodore as he composes a letter to his ex-wife. He is finally able to express his feelings for her. The letter is just as beautiful and emotionally charged as the letters he writes at work. However there is something heartbreaking about the situation. Because of Samantha, he believed that he had moved on and found love in a new relationship. He thought that his relationship with Samantha was just as genuine as his relationship with his ex-wife. Finally when he realized that it wasn’t, it was too late. Theodore had no chance of salvaging his relationship because by the time he stopped hiding behind technology, the divorce papers had already been signed.


Her. Dir. Spike Jones. Perf. Joaquin Phoenix, Amy McAdams, and Scarlett Johansson. Annapurna Pictures, 2013. Film.

The Shadow Scholar for Uncreative Writing

In my blog post titled “Uncreative Writing”, I explain why I would want to take Kenneth Goldsmiths class called uncreative writing at the University of Pennsylvania. In his class, all of the work submitted by students must be plagiarized in some way. For my revision, I decided to revise a blog post as if I were writing it for his class. My goal was to merge a bunch of different essays summarizing the Shadow Scholar by Ed Dante to create one cohesive summary. The following post contains writing by eleven different authors.

Summary of The Shadow Scholar:

In The Shadow Scholar, a writer under the pseudonym of Ed Dante grants us access into the underground realm of paper milling.[1] Dante is a ‘writer for hire’, someone students pay money to in exchange for papers.[2] The article tells his story as a writer who works for a custom-essay company of which many college students around the nation contact to request a written paper.[3] The work is difficult for Dante, but business is booming.[4] He establishes his credibility by describing the wide scope of topics he has written about.[5] No matter what subject, deadline, or length, Ed Dante will still satisfy his customers’ wants and needs.[6] He satirically alludes to many of the common traits that his clients share such their appalling grasp of the English language, their tendency to wait until the last minute, and their willingness to spend an exorbitant amount for the service.[7] We are even led loosely through his process of completing a 160-page graduate thesis that an ESL student requested desperately.[8]

Dante, who writes about 20 to 40 pages per day, reaps great rewards from his sleepless nights, earning about $66,000 per year.[9] The fact that a person can make upwards of 60,000 dollars a year by writing papers for students’ displays some of the drastic issues in our educational system.[10] Dante confronts us with a shocking statistic towards the end of the article in saying that none of his students have been caught in the process of cheating, causing us to question the future of academia.[11] He doesn’t try to be accusatory in his article as much as point out a systemic problem. He says that he “wants to start a conversation”, a conversation that he hopes will steer the education system away from its philosophy of “evaluation over education” and refocus that effort towards ensuring the successful long-term education of students.[12]

[1] Cooperlinn

[2] apsire

[3] anhnguyen0617

[4] Bjgolds

[5] bradleyf95

[6] Deezytheman

[7] bradleyf95


[9] cspindel

[10] adamferguson06

[11] Abhinavnwadhwa

[12] cdale139

Pillow Talk and Gender Roles in Post-war America

I believe that the pregnancy references in Pillow Talk challenge conventional gender roles. On the surface, pillow talk seems like the typical romantic comedy. A romantic comedy usually follows a plot where there are two young lovers who are kept apart by some complicated circumstance, but they eventually overcome the circumstance and wed. In this case, Jan and Brad are kept apart by the fact that Brad lied to Jan about his true identity. However, Jan eventually forgives him and they wed. While this plot alone makes Jan seem weak and submissive, the pregnancy references in Pillow Talk put her in a much more powerful position.

Pillow Talk was released in 1959, while America was still feeling the affects of World War II. The end of the war in 1945 lead to the beginning of the “baby boom” in 1946. The “baby boom” was a time period between 1946 and 1964 where around 4 million babies were born each year. Americans had a lot of children during this time because America’s economy was thriving. With the “baby boom” came a shift in family values in America. Not only were women encouraged to marry young and have a lot of babies, but they were also expected to stay at home to raise the children while the men went off to work.

In Pillow Talk, we see the expectation of women to have children the first time pregnancy is mentioned. When Jan tries to get a private phone line, the man working with the phone company tells her that they have hundreds of other applications so it won’t be possible to give her one. As she begins to beg him, he tells her that if she were pregnant she would jump to the top of the list. Instead of surrendering to his idea, she explains that she is single and that she is an interior decorator who has a lot of important business calls. From this, we can see that Jan does not play into the gender roles of post-war America. She is unwed and she is able to support herself financially. This is completely by choice as one of her millionaire clients, Jonathan, repeatedly throws himself at her and even tries to give her a car.

Jan is not the only character in pillow talk to challenge conventional gender roles. The next time pregnancy is mentioned is when Brad visits Jonathan at work and has to duck away into the obstetrician’s office to avoid seeing Jan. Since he has no logical excuse as to why he is in the office, he tells the nurse that he hasn’t been feeling well and implies that he thinks he might be pregnant. While we know that he doesn’t actually think this, just the implication switches gender roles in the film. However, this switch in gender roles is challenged when Jan eventually forgives Brad and marries him. By forgiving him, it may appear that Jan is submissive, but I would argue that she is actually very independent. For example, she did not succeed to his every request while redecorating his apartment. At the end of the movie, the switch in gender roles is confirmed one last time. In the final scene Brad says to Jonathan, “I’m going to have a baby”. We understand that he is telling Jonathan that Jan is pregnant, but instead of simply saying that, he places the action of childbirth on himself. As we can see through all of the references to pregnancy, Pillow Talk is much more than a simple romantic comedy.


History.com Staff. “The 1950s.” History.com. A&E Television Networks, 2010. Web. 18 Sept. 2014.

Uncreative Writing

In Kenneth Goldsmith’s article, “It’s Not Plagiarism. In the Digital Age, It’s ‘Repurposing’”, he talks about a class that he teaches at the University of Pennsylvania called Uncreative Writing. In this class, all of the work submitted by students must be plagiarized in some way. Students are encouraged to patchwrite, steal, repurpose and even buy papers. Based on what I know about this class, I would love to take it. In all of the writing classes I have taken in my life, plagiarism is considered a serious offense. In fact, when I was in fifth grade, I almost got kicked out of Hebrew School because of plagiarism. My teacher assigned us a small research paper on a topic of her choosing, which I didn’t want to do since my parents were forcing me to attend Hebrew School. So instead of writing the research paper, I put my topic into Google and copy and pasted the entire Wikipedia article about it into Microsoft Word. Before turning it in at Hebrew school, my mom picked it up off the printer and read it. She was amazed by “my writing skills”, since I was only in the fifth grade. I started to feel a little guilty after that, but turned it in anyways. The next week, my teacher pulled me out of the classroom and asked if I knew what plagiarism was. I lied and said that I didn’t. She explained what it was and told me that if I ever did it again I wouldn’t be allowed to return to the school. After that, I never plagiarized again, at least not purposefully. However, Kenneth Goldsmiths article and class made me think about plagiarism in a different way. He made me realize that there is possibly something to learn from plagiarism. While I am not saying that I plan on plagiarizing, I think that taking a class and learning about it could help improve my writing.

Three of Goldsmiths arguments about plagiarism seem particularly compelling to me. The first argument is that technology is continuously evolving the way we process text and absorb data. He even proposed the idea of the “unoriginal genius”, that perhaps our notion of genius is outdated because of technological advances and perhaps the way we use the information from technology is the most important part of the creative process. The second argument is that in other creative fields, replicating others work has become mainstream. The example he uses is that in music, sampling is commonplace. Many popular songs today are constructed entirely by using other pre existing songs. The final argument that is most compelling to me is the idea that “the suppression of self-expression is impossible”. In the article Goldsmith argues that even when “we do something as seemingly ‘uncreative’ as retyping a few pages, we express ourselves in a variety of ways”. Although he certainly has an unconventional idea of creativity, I feel that I could learn about my writing style based on what I would choose to include in my papers and how I would use already existing information.