The Portrayal of a 21st Century Emancipated Woman in Perfume Commercials



emancipation, postfeminism, fourth wave of feminism, celebrities, perfume commercial


In the 21st century, the feminist movement is experiencing a new upswing. This process is
particularly affected by the activity of female celebrities who promote and embody the idea of woman
emancipation. The main goal of this paper is to identify the ways in which female perfume commercials
present emancipation as desirable. By means of narrative analysis and the qualitative research method,
we analysed five perfume commercials featuring female celebrities as their main protagonists. The
common characteristics shared by all the protagonists in the analysed commercials is their determination
and a pronounced sense of self-awareness and insurgence. They are extroverted, assertive, and prone
to seeking excitement, competent and success-oriented. Their desirability is simultaneously determined
by masculine behaviour, feminine aesthetics, the rejection of gender norms (with the exception of the
slimness ideal), dominant behaviour when interacting with men, and the focus towards the future. The
behaviour of female protagonists almost completely matches the characteristics of the postfeminist
understanding of femininity and supports the fundamental determinant of feminism – the idea of

Author Biographies

Lana Gajger, Fakultet političkih znanosti

Lana Gajger got BA and MA degree in journalism at the Faculty of Political Science of the University of Zagreb. Her journalistic experience started within student media newsrooms of Radio Student and Television Student, while afterwords she continued professionally at the Radio Slavonija working as a radio-host and radio producer. She is awarded by The Croatian Association of Radio Publishers HURIN for the best radio action in 2019 “Dream day”. She took non-formal education with the School of Rhetoric “Ivo Škarić” and she got a degree of NLP practitioner.

Viktorija Car, University of Zagreb, Faculty of Political Science

Dr. Viktorija Car is Associate Professor at the University of Zagreb, Croatia, at the Faculty of Political Science – Media and Communication Department. In the focus of her scientific research are public service media, visual culture and visual media, media narratives, digital activism, media and gender studies, media and minority studies.

She is founder and was the first Editor-in-Chief (2010-2017) of the Media Studies journal ( She was member of the HRT Program Council (Croatian public service radio-television) 2011-2012, and she is one of the founders of the Free and Responsible Media group within the Human Rights House Zagreb. She was a MC member of the COST Action IS0906: Transforming Audiences, Transforming Societies: „New challenges and methodological innovations in European media audience research“.

She worked as a journalist and a screen-writer for the Croatian Public Service Television Hrvatska televizija (HTV) 1998-2002, at the Education Program; she was general manager of the Croatian Association of Fine Artists (HDLU) 2003-2004.