Women and Vacuums

A trope is an image used within the media often enough to be recognized in different settings. Tropes often can have an underlying message or can be used to project a specific stereotype to their audience. For this assignment, I wanted to use a product that has been around for many years and has evolved in its design. Although, there is one thing that never seems to change – who is using the product. Since the start of early advertising, vacuum product placements and advertisements have most commonly used women as the user of their product. I believe this is because cleaning products have been associated with housewives since the early stages of print, and is often seen as the woman’s job to clean the home.  

The first Trope I selected is an advertisement for Hoover vacuums from the 1940s. The advertisement depicts two women dressed in clothing from the time period with different styles of vacuums. Both women have on heels and are seen to have their hair and makeup done. Showing that for the time, a housewife should be dressed for the day and still complete their daily tasks. The tagline for this advertisement is “You’ll be happier with a Hoover”. The bright colors of the word “happier” will catch a woman’s attention as it pops off the page and has a feminine flair. The tagline also can be taken in different ways as the user will be happier with the results of the Hoover, or the results will make the family an overall happier entity. The small paragraph on the middle of the page is a call to action for readers to call their Hoover supplier to buy a model. While the surrounding paragraphs describe different models that are for sale. This trope is a great example of how to vacuum advertisements were originally targeted towards women as they were associated with house care in the 40s and 50s. This ad would take place in a magazine for women, as men would be less inclined to use the product themself. The models’ smiling faces and put-together attire also represent how women should feel about doing housework and tending to their families needs. 

The second trope I selected is a magazine cover for Life printed on October 4th of 1923. This advertisement shows a woman flying on a vacuum through the night sky. The woman is dressed in a yellow dress with an apron, heels, and her hair and makeup done. She is straddling the vacuum-like she is riding it into the night sky with a crescent moon in the background. On the bottom of the cover, there is a small text that says “modern witch”. I believe this advertisement heavily implies what Men thought of women at the time of this publication’s release date. Women were seen as homemakers who have to clean and take care of the duties at home. The women riding the vacuum like a witch’s broom along with the text is a clear indication of how women were thought of. It is often said that when a woman gets mad, she may ‘fly off the handle’ or ‘fly away on her broomstick’ similar to how a witch is depicted. Life decided to make the advertisement a little more up-to-date with a vacuum. I think this magazine cover had an appeal to men over women based on how the woman is referenced as a witch. I do think the trope of the woman still smiling with the vacuum shows how happy she is to be a housewife, which is expected, even though she is being referenced in a derogatory light. 


The third trope I selected is a Dyson V11  video advertisement. This could be used on television, or for video advertisements like on Youtube. The ad runs a total of 55 seconds, starting with the scene of dust particles accumulating from animals and kids’ belongings. This ad heavily focuses on the build of the vacuum with a futuristic feel watching the pieces fly together to create the product. A woman is seen using the vacuum cleaner in different modes during the entirety of the commercial, while her child plays in the background of the video. The woman was dressed nicely in the video with her hair and makeup done for the day. Her kid was also dressed for the day as he played.  There is no man or father figure seen throughout the commercial. This implies the trope that women are the maids of the family. They are meant to clean the home and take care of the family as seen from Dyson. The music selection for the advertisement was very soft and calming with the subtle noise of the suction from the vacuum. There is no text or product logo on the video, only the Dyson product. This implies you know what a vacuum looks like nonetheless a Dyson brand vacuum cleaner. 

Although times have changed, with stay-at-home dads and men cleaning the home, one thing may never change. Women are depicted in vacuum and cleaning advertisements. When looking up tropes for this project, I only came across one commercial that showed a man using a vacuum cleaner. Proving vacuum advertisements are tropes for the stereotype of women cleaning the home and being the perfect housewife. This has been seen from the beginning of advertisement and will continue to be used throughout product placement.  Most recently, vacuum advertisements may only show the hand of the person using the product. It can be deduced that it is a woman based on the fingernails, size of the hand, and possible jewelry. If a vacuum advertisement is seen by a viewer, even without a user, this tropes connection is strong enough that it is implied a woman is using the vacuum cleaner.



Hoover Advertisement: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/329748003936642523/

Life Magazine Cover: https://www.timetunnel.com/life-magazine-cover-1923-decker-a-modern-witch.html

Dyson V11 Commerical: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYK-zWjxLdI