Publication Date

October 2009


This audience analysis considers how two groups of mothers, one affluent and mostly white and the other low-income and mostly of color, responded to six print ads for designer children’s clothing. I argue that the gender and maternal affiliations of these women—which coalesce around their common experience of the male gaze and a belief that children’s clothing represents the embodied tastes of the mother—are ultimately overwhelmed by distinct attitudes towards conspicuous consumption, in-group/out-group signals, and even facial expressions. I conclude that, when judging the ads, these mothers engage in a vicarious process referencing their own daily practice of social interaction. In other words, they are auditioning the gaze through which others will view their own children.

Journal or Book Title

Advertising & Society Review

Included in

Communication Commons