Do Christmas Adverts Enforce Female Stereotypes?


It’s coming up to the most wonderful time of the year… hey, it’s after Halloween, it’s after Bonfire Night, I can talk about Christmas now!  Advent calendars and mince pie mix are flooding into shops, and the rampant crush of adverts telling us to buy everything we can, as soon as we can, had begun.  The advertising free-for-all has started, as shops and companies battle each other for the customer’s attention.  It’s like Thunderdome, but with tinsel and cute critters and less Tina Turner.  And I love it all.  The blatant commercialisation of Christmas is something I can say I love with my entire heart – that I can show the people I care for how much they matter in my life by getting them something they will love.  There’s one thing that makes me slightly uneasy.

Has anyone else noticed how much Christmas adverts dislike women?

Now this might be the embittered feminist that lives inside me talking (normally, I like to keep her as reasonable as possible), but I have noticed a very disturbing trend in Christmas advertising.  Women are those to whom Christmas is entrusted.  As the vaguely patronising adverts of Tesco, Littlewoods and Asda show, it is mums who make Christmas for the enjoyment of all and we should thank them all for their tireless efforts to make our holidays memorable and lovely and stress-free.  Look at them going about preparing for us all! Look at them buying all the food, searching for the perfect gifts, buying Christmas trees, decorating the house, re-decorating it when a blundering husband spoils it, dealing with difficult relatives, cleaning the house, wrapping all the presents and then finally, on the day itself, preparing and cooking Christmas dinner, while the rest of the family get to relax, safe in the knowledge that any hiccups or messes will be swept up by mum.  We all love mums.  Without a mum, Christmas is an empty wasteland where we watch the Eastenders Christmas special and cry from loneliness into an Iceland frozen ready meal.

Adverts never seem to show women enjoying themselves at Christmas. Women are there to provide for the rest of the family.  Who do we thank at Christmas?  Why, mothers, because apparently no one else is capable of organising it – and no one else should organise it.  To be the perfect wife and mother, a woman has to do everything on her own, while her children and husband do nothing at all.  It isn’t the woman’s role to be able to sit and enjoy a holiday with her family; no, she must run herself ragged for everyone else’s sake.  Without her, there will be no Christmas!  So she can’t stop for a minute to put her feet up, or admit she can’t make stuffing – everyone else’s happiness is purely dependant on one person doing all the work. It’s so disgustingly 1950’s suburbia; that a husband can sit on the sofa for two weeks and watch as many dodgy films with animatronic snowman as he likes, while his wife flits about him, preparing cocktails in a billowy satin gown.  In order to make a perfect Christmas, as a woman, I must relinquish all hopes of enjoying myself without gratitude, and the media will parade visions of the ideal Christmas so that in case I fail, I will castigate myself for spoiling the fun of everyone else.  If I break down, admit that I cannot provide the perfect Christmas and ask for help, well, then I’m letting everyone down.  The media tells me so.

Christmas is a time for family, a time for love, and a time to appreciate those who matter most.  So why not show whoever organises your Christmas how much you care by offering to help?  Christmas is a stressful, even depressing time for some women, a time when pressure is intense and they feel judged by the entire family.  Don’t leave everything to one person because it makes your life easier.


  1. The more I see the Asda advert the more offensive it becomes. There is the clear message that every single aspect of Christmas from perfect meals to clearing pine needles is the woman’s sole responsibility, and her reward for all this exhausting self sacrifice? A cheer and a seat at the lowest place at the table, followed by the job of clearing up everybody’s mess. Christmas, a time for love family and sharing not slavery! I find it shocking.

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