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Pet Sins November 2004

Yellow woman-white man couples in advertisements

I've noticed the over-representation of yellow woman/white man families in advertising, compared to other kinds of interracial families in promoting products. I'm not talking about an advertisement that justs happens to have an Asian woman and a white man in it. I'm talking about those in which YWWM are presented as a single family unit or romantic couple.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with each of such ads individually. But what is worth questioning is why certain racial combinations are much more prominent in media than other racial combinations? Are all interracial couples equal in the sight of society? Are all interracial combinations equally encouraged?

There is the Hanes ad from the early 2000s in which a Japanese woman speaks fondly of her white American husband who has relocated to Japan. She says, one of the ways she helps him stay connected to his home country is to buy him Hanes socks, or something like that.

Then there is a regional ad for funeral insurance, featuring a yellow female with 2 half-white children, walking around, being all huggy and sweet in touchy-feely domestic bliss.

And in 2003, I just saw an AT&T cell phone ad about white male-yellow female cohabiting couple who starts a morning on non-speaking terms. They have a tense breakfast and share a wordless ride to work. Later, as the attractive yellow female sits in a meeting, her white male domestic partner rushes in with a large sign that reads, "I'm sorry. I was an idiot." or something to that effect. Of course the woman smiles, and she looks down at her AT&T cell phone which already displays the message "I'm sorry" from her sensitive white male domestic partner. So all ends well for our YWWM family.

In 2004, Sprint PCS also jumps on the yellow woman-white man bandwagon by using the image of an embracing yellow woman-white man couple on its "Press 411" pamphlet for subscribers.

And there are many, many more such images. For example, a "cute couple" article on MSN used the image of a not-very-cute yellow woman and a passably good-looking white man..

White male-yellow female families and couples are being used to sell products, and they are portrayed in a very idealized light. Who is the target audience for this kind of advertising? We should ask why we are not seeing more diverse representations of interracial families in advertisements.

11/03