Example: ‘Legally Blonde’ film poster
‘Legally Blonde’ is a film in which a beautiful woman (Reese Witherspoon) defies the convention of the ‘dumb blonde’ to become a top lawyer.
Colour is very important for the formation and connoted meaning of the character’s femininity. The poster is designed using typically feminine colours of bubblegum pink and sunshine yellow. However the background is entirely blue with clouds surrounding the top half of her body. The blue sky and clouds infer the notion that this striking woman’s head is situated firmly within them and isn’t intelligent enough to aspire her dream.
Considering that blue is a colour habitually associated with men and the character is surrounded by it, this could signify that she’s within a male dominated world.
The woman’s stance is very open-carrying books in one arm and holding a dog lead in the other. She takes a sexually attractive, active role. The way she is dressed reinforces this; she wears a low cut, figure-hugging dress.
Again the colour is traditionally feminine, along with her feathered pen, high heels and her dog’s matching accessories.
In terms of audience, she plays two specific roles. To men, she is a sexual entity but to women, an ideologically perfect figure. The character carries clichd ideals of beauty implemented by male opinion- flowing blonde hair and blue eyes. Being that she’s also very slim with long, slender legs, most men would be attracted to her. However due to the nature of the film, women are also attracted to her as an aspirational individual.
The fact that she’s carrying books whilst still appearing as stunningly beautiful engages the idea that they, as an audience can do it too. Her books are both a strong syntagmatic and important prop as they symbolically exchange themselves for intelligence. Her clothes, accessories and general appearance do the same for the paradigm of upheld ‘girlish’ femininity. ‘Girlish’ femininity can be easily associated with childhood toys like Barbie dolls. The dolls are the ideal that she has become.
Her appearance is hegemonic, showing beliefs and conventions needn’t be rigid- they can evolve and be negotiated. It’s entirely possible for you to be both intelligent and beautiful.
Her beauty can be interpreted indexically by code of modern society. Attractive women have an unquestionable power over men, and combined with her inferred intelligence, she could secretly or passively prove to be a powerful character, while retaining an air of classic femininity.