Since many centuries ago women have been known to be objectified in media advertising. Today nothing has shifted in the ideology of who a woman is, despite the global movements being made by all women in efforts to change this perception. The standard which is set for women is ultimate beauty and flawlessness in body and work, a woman is said to be perfection, seamless perfection. So perfect that it is not humane, she now becomes the object. This has been instilled in all people, men women and children.
From generation to generation this is what we grow up knowing and understanding, that women has to look edited in reality and not just on a magazine, they have to slender with slight curves, they have to have pouty lips, fair skin, straight hair, bright eyes, long legs, this list only gets longer. This is what becomes normal to us, in the way we think, understand and how we see women.
This has also affected many women around the world, emotionally and physically and has made them feel as if they are not living up to societys standards. Today however women are becoming stronger and not allowing media or real life to dictate who and what they should be in their lifetime.
Advertising campaigns that objectify women.
Nearly all advertising campaigns are guilty of objectifying women, one in particular relates to the body shaming of a womans weight.
This campaign in figure 1, was seen in London. A billboard that was seen by thousands of public commuters and a billboard that made headlines as many signed a petition for it to be removed and for there to no longer be billboards that body shame a woman.
This campaign advertises protein weight loss supplements; their aim is to get women to buy these supplements to ensure they have a beach body ready. A beach body in the idealistic world of campaigns is having a body that is thin (or underweight), flawless with no marks, no cellulite, no scarring, no wrinkles, preferably long hair and wearing a bikini to show off 98% of her perfection. It is clear that this campaign along with many others have no regard for women.
Body shaming causes stress and depression which is closely linked to overweight and obesity in many people. We have become a society of unreal expectation and images. Retouched images falsely portray young and older women with a sense of perfection that is beyond reach, says Dr. Lynn Anderson, Ph.D., naturopath and yoga therapist. It is not only sculpting the body, but false images of wrinkle-free, flawless skin and long, flowing hair that affect how we see ourselves. (Abrams, 2017). This campaign warps your idea of what is real life. Once a simple fun outing to the beach is now an occasion that increases insecurity, low self-esteem and self-worth. Girls grow up thinking that how they look is more important than how they feel. Today there are many who have chosen to defy the idea of body shaming and having to please everyone but themselves. There are even campaigns coming on board that counteracts all the shaming. Plus size models was introduced and therefore allow women who are overweight and obese to feel comfortable and accept themselves
One of the many women who is accepting the idea of not looking like an edited billboard is plus size model Ashley Graham in figure 2. Graham still struggles with body shaming from the media but due to many powerful movements it is more accepted now than ever before meaning women who are fuller are now able to feel more comfortable in their own skin. These models become well known via social media such as Instagram, Faceboook and Twitter. These platforms have become a personal media base where people in any field whether for business or personal use may advertise themselves as how they see fit. Magazines, designers and campaigns that include sponsorships have stepped onto this platform and then reach out to these accounts that have created a positive name for themselves. This creates global exposure where big designers begin using plus size models in their clothing campaigns. Below in Figure 3 is Graham walking for Dolce & Gabbana. Their runway show was based on the idea of glamour beyond the catwalk.
Body shaming is just one of the many factors that bring women down in advertising today. As seen in Figure 3, Dolce & Gabbana is seen portraying a positive advertisement. Currently brands are following the lead by not shaming women in any way, shape or form but the question is, are they doing it because they genuinely want to be part of the movement or are they doing it because they are aware that it will be well advertised and that their brand is now showing morality. A good example of questioning this is Dolce & Gabbanas designer commentary on an Instagram post made by thecatwalkitallia in June 2018. Steffano Gabbana commented ugly on the post. He then took to other rants on Instagram regarding his commentary and further added by commenting E proprio brutta!!!, which translates to Shes really ugly!!! in English.
In Figure 4 above, the far right picture Gomez is wearing a Dolce & Gabbana evening gown to 2011 Vanity Fair Post Oscar Party. He was accused by many of her fans which are predominantly females accusing Gabbana of body shaming and cyber bullying. Cyber bullying is a form of abuse online, it mainly happens on social media platforms. This is why someone cannot just post a proud picture of themselves without rethinking the thought of putting it out there due to those who feel it is okay to comment negatively instead of uplift one another.
Some men feel like their ideal woman should look like that retouched model as well. They begin to search for a perfect body that does not exist. Says health and wellness coach Kevin Bailey (Abrams, A. 2017). This once again creates an ideology of how a woman should look. Men are now expecting a woman in reality to appear airbrushed and retouched and disregard those who have a more realistic appearance. This causes women to disregard themselves and attempt to mimic the unrealistic form that campaigns perceive women to have. Body image and self-esteem directly influence each other. This has become the growth cycle amongst all females and is the cause of many emotional and physical diseases. In a perfect world where these daily gender and body issues dont affect people, their emotional and physical well-being would come before their body image. With regards to many global movements a generation has risen, where females now have the courage to take ownerships of their bodies and not allow others, especially men, to dictate their physical appearance.
Girls, teenagers and young female adults are still deciding who they want to become and discovering what their identity is and recently the media has been the decision maker in in this critical phase of their lives. Media dictates different aspects of our lives, one specifically being the way we convey ourselves through clothes and ultimately the way we are viewed by society. In recent years clothing stores have been marketing clothing, usually meant for mature cliental, to children of a younger age group. This leads to behavioural changes, such as rebellion, altered personalities and feelings of depression, which then leads to loss of childhood years and innocence, in this younger generation and can therefore have harsh long term effects on these children. Along with the consumption of this clothing to the underage demographic, comes the body shaming and unrealistic body goals that older women are usually victim to. It wasnt too long ago that the strains of society came at the age of 21 where now it starts at the early age of 12.
These advertisements are not speaking to the majority of women, real women. Women of different ages and races. Women that have 9-5s, that have weight issues due to various reasons including medical reasons, women that have children or just women that absolutely prefer looking however they choose to. What these advertisements also do not consider is the fact that there is not only one body type and that a skinny figure is not something everyone can achieve due to a natural curve in their physique. This diversity in body types should be seen as beautiful and special and not be looked down upon the way the media and certain advertising companies do. Today however there are many brands that want to join the movement and incorporate diversity in their campaigns but once again it cannot be said for sure what their intensions are. As some uses models for their acceptance and some choose to use it as a publicity stunt.
Global movements are occurring more and more often, the inclusion of differences amongst one another especially females in society. People are joining movements and accepting one another for who they are. Embracing and accepting issues such as body shaming, gender differences, ethnicities, cultures and believes. On the other side of the spectrum no matter how much effort people go through for full change, there still those who choose to no move with it, who choose to stay in their own believes that a shameful media has taught them.