Undergraduate Research

Article Title

The Cultural Hegemony of Fashion: What Jeans Advertisements Portray as Normal


The foundation of a society rests in the existence of power dynamics which allow for the dictation of specific cultural norms by the ruling class upon the nondominant class. This imposition creates cultural hegemony, or a relation between a leader who benefits from dominating a consenting subordinate (Artz and Ortega Murphy, 2000). Advertisements impact a society as a whole and serve as a representation of cultural hegemony. They project a certain norm and ideal for consumers to achieve. When consumers buy an advertised product, they consent to and accept the projected norm determined by the company. Americans often choose their clothing based off what is collectively considered to be “normal” by adhering to popular trends or styles. Through the process of clothing selection, the consumer conforms to society’s expectations of normality, which are dictated by the ruling class (Fiske, 1989). This act of conforming also occurs when one wears denim jeans. Jean wearers consent to the norms imposed by the companies that are portrayed through advertisements. These ideals (fashion norms) are based on factors such as one’s body type, race, and gender (Fiske, 1989). Consumers conform to the imposed ideals by purchasing and wearing what the fashion industry presents as normal; thus, enabling corporations to continue dictating societal norms.