Project Abstract (2017)

According to current research, women in athletics often occupy dual “masculine” and “feminine” identities. Such fractured identities culminate in decreased feelings of self-worth. However, Lululemon Athletica, a leading women’s sportswear company, claims to have created a safe space for athletic women by blending the masculinity typically associated with athletics and the femininity associated with womanhood, contrasting the common experience of a woman in athletics. Lululemon creates the aforementioned environment through neoliberalism. However, neoliberalism -- which proclaims that through decision-making and self-improvement, people choose success -- is often corrupted in its relation to feminism when used in marketing. Neoliberal advertisements have the potential to place the onus of failure to improve one’s body or lifestyle on consumers, resulting in harmful psychological behaviors and attitudes. Thus, the supposed safe space that Lululemon creates for women could be tainted by the company subscribing to the detrimental subsection of neoliberalism, particularly because the company relies heavily on video advertisements on social media. This research seeks to determine if Lululemon’s advertisements purport a feminist message that empowers its consumers or a neoliberal message that places blame on the consumer for her body. Through directed coding in a content analysis, all of the linguistic and visual cues of Lululemon’s advertisements were coded to identify neoliberal markers for empowerment and blame. These findings will confirm the nature of Lululemon’s neoliberal message, which will provide insight into whether Lululemon creates a safe space for women in athletics that would allow them to merge their dual identities.

The Neoliberal Warrior: Analyzing the Neoliberal and Feminist Messages of Lululemon's Video Advertisements