Tagged: women

Aug 06

Murder, mutilation and rape: the lot of women in advertising

News that, as a result of Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson’s campaign against “overly perfected and unrealistic images” of women in advertising, L’Oréal had been forced to pull their ad campaigns featuring Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington because they’d been airbrushed was hailed as tremendous progress in the ongoing protest against the way in which women are presented – and addressed – by the advertising industry.  And it was.  The case proved that, even in the face of the world’s largest cosmetics company (with annual revenues of €19.50 billion), personal protest was still worth making.

A good sign, but we all know that the promises made by cosmetics companies are false.  No one actually expects to emerge from the bathroom looking like Christy Turlington because they smeared their faces in Maybelline’s latest foundation, The Eraser.  Acknowledging the fact that cosmetics companies lie is a progressive step, but it’s only a small one.  In adverts aimed at both women and men, women are patronised at best and murdered at worst.  They’re gang-raped, mutilated, cast as objects and subjects of paedophile fantasy, and degraded.  They’re accessories to men and their demands.

Even those trying to use advertising for the benefit of women fare little better.  The Breast Cancer Foundation, instead of displaying mastectomy scars deemed off-putting by focus groups, decided instead to use a single-breasted, nippleless plastic doll and perfectly symmetrical breasts of models painted with colourful cartoons suggesting all women were concerned with was their skin, hair and the size of their bum when they should be thinking about their health.

I applaud Jo Swinson’s victory and hope it’s the first step of many towards even a semblance of male-female equality in advertising, but it’s not enough.  Women need to demand more.  Change needs to be more radical.  Given the violence to which she may be subjected to sell products, excessive airbrushing is about the most pleasant fate of a woman in advertising.


Aug 04

Vogue Italia’s Belle Vere. Celebrating women’s bodies or using plus-size models as a gimmick?

The June cover story in Vogue Italia, Belle Vere, was all about the curves.  Languid, bare-breasted models gaze from the pages, pouting and purring in their lingerie.  They’re beautiful – gorgeous in their preened, fleshly glory.  There’s a luxurious air about them that no amount of pouting on a stick-thin model could convey.  These are women of appetite – they look like they’d be fabulous company at dinner, not like they ought to be on some nutrient drip.  Surely, this is a celebration of women’s bodies at their finest.  A beauty ideal to which we can all aspire should we so desire.

Or is it just marketing?  Sales may be flagging so perhaps a little notoriety – in the shape of someone with breasts all of her own flesh – was needed to pick them up. The poses are no different from those adopted in any other lingerie photoshoot: on her knees, legs apart, breasts tumbling from her corset.  She’s enjoying herself – or doing a fine job of faking it – but for whom?  And why the porn star poses?  Sexualised isn’t the only way to present a woman, even if Vogue is trying to make the point that just because your body fat ratio isn’t 1%, doesn’t mean no one will want to look at you. So long as pouting for the boys remains the default manner in which to convey sexiness, it doesn’t matter what dress size the models, it remains a no-win situation.  She’s still just a figurine no matter how normal her figure.  We don’t have to take off our clothes to know we look good naked so neither should she.


Jul 18

Turn Your Back On Page Three

Turn Your Back On Page Three is a campaign against the daily publication of pornographic images of women on page three of The Sun, a newspaper notorious for its misogyny, racism and bigotry.

Women are more than a commodity to be exploited for commercial gain.  A pout, vagina waxed to resemble that of a child, and painfully distended silicon-pumped breasts do not a woman make.  Presenting this as an acceptable summation of all that a woman is – nothing more than an object for titillation and ridicule – creates a barrier to any sort of equality because, vacuous and pathetic in her attempts to attract attention, the woman on Page 3 is unlikely to receive any respect.  With their massive readership, the attitude of The Sun and other publications like it, such attitudes become the norm, both for men and women and, more dangerously, for children.  Girls are shown that sexualised poses and clothing are an acceptable, appropriate, and necessary way in which to get attention and boys are taught to expect and accept it.  In their attempts to emulate such behaviour, donning g-strings, push-up bras, lipstick, Playboy insignia-covered clothing, pouts and poses, girls put themselves into situations with which they are not equipped to deal.  Though, of course, not all men would take advantage of the girls’ innocent yet sexualised state, many would.  Studies have shown that many of the women who work in the porn industry – and I include women posing for Page 3 in that – were subjected to abuse as children and, in a distorted reaction to this abuse, regard sexualised behaviour as the only way in which to gain the attention of men.  Whatever other abilities and qualities they may have are seen as irrelevant – both by the women themselves and those who believe they are nothing more than the poses in their pictures.  The Page 3 presentation of women and its normalisation through endorsement in the mainstream media promotes abuse and exploitation.  She is merely woman as a hole – not the whole woman she should be.

To join the campaign go to http://www.facebook.com/turnyourbackonpage3 and email Councillors, MPs, MSPs, MEPs and Lords to inform them of your objection to this use of women’s bodies at http://www.writetothem.com/.

Sign the petition for the removal of page 3 at http://www.change.org/petitions/petition-remove-page-3-from-our-most-popular-newspaper-the-sun

Also, for a stealthy protest, print your TYBO Page Three image and slip it into The Sun. Be sure to cover Page Three.

If you want to be more direct, have someone write “Turn Your Back On Page Three”, take a picture then go to The Sun “I want to be a Page Three Girl” page at http://www.page3.com/freshers/index.shtml, print out the application form and send it along with your photo to the address shown on the form.  Feel free to include a comment on why you object to the use of women’s bodies in this way – as well as anything else you’d like to say.

Thanks for joining the campaign against inequality, sexism, and exploitation!


Jul 13

In praise of the lady gadabout

Unkempt, unruly, bad-mannered, and lascivious, the blowsy woman has long been dismissed for her sluttish ways and refusal to behave nicely.  Originating from the 18th century blowze, the word blowsy has been used to malign a woman as a beggar, wench, and – of lower social ranking to the beggar himself – a beggar’s female companion.  I think it’s time her virtues were re-evaluated.

What a blowsy woman really is, is a woman of appetites – for food, drink, sex, and all that life can offer.  She’s not perpetually mid-diet, turning down dessert and pounding her joints on a treadmill to burn off the few calories that may have slipped in somewhere between the no-fat-gluten-free muffin and the salad, sans dressing. Her drinking is not a glass of wine with lunch and her love affairs are not discrete.  Nor are they with her husband.  But the real problem in all of this – the thing that has brought her so much suspicion and derision – is that she doesn’t care.  She doesn’t have time to be forever presentable and polite.  Her waywardness is too time-consuming and, frankly, too much fun.  Who can be bothered with etiquette and preserving your looks when your lustiness might take you somewhere far more exciting? read on