MDIA PhD student Xiaomeng Li has recently been selected by the Broadcast Education Association’s Diversity & Inclusion Committee as the Outstanding Research Paper recipient for the BEA 2018 Conference. Li’s paper, entitled Changing Destiny or Commercializing Singlehood— A Critical Discourse Analysis of SK-II’s Advertisement on “Leftover Women,” explores the theme in China by which women who are above the age of twenty-seven and unmarried are seen as not “normal.” Li examines an advertisement titled “Marriage Market Takeover” by a high-end beauty brand SK-II, which used the global campaign “Change Destiny” to challenge the social norm and encourage women to have agency and choose their own destiny.
“My paper argues that the ad is nonetheless putting these women in a postfeminist dilemma” says Li, “i.e. their empowerment is achieved based on the premise of conforming to the Chinese tradition of filial piety and the patriarchal view that their success is judged by marriage. So, this paper is basically a critical discourse analysis of the social and cultural construction of the “leftover women” discourse and a postfeminist critique of the ad.”
Li hopes that from reading her paper, people will become more interested in the problematic “leftover women” situation in China. Additionally, she hopes that “people can see the two sides of the emerging trend of ‘feminist advertisements’ (ads that try to empower women through consumption) in mass media these days.”
Speaking on research itself, Li states that “many people feel that writing a research paper is tiresome and boring, but they may forget that they can actually do research on what they are interested in and incorporate their hobby in the study. I do research on ads, memes, and on video games--things that interest me to keep myself motivated. So I hope more people can realize that."
The BEA2018 Conference will take place from April 7 – April 10. Xiaomeng Li will be recognized the Sunday night of the convention at the BEA Awards Ceremony.