As I browsed through the internet, looking for travel ads, I came across some rather offensive ads that use stereotypes to attract travelers.Thus, prompting me to reply in this manner.
The image titled “The dancing Hawaiian girl at your service,” retrieved from the Pinterest webpage under the sub-category of racial objectification, is a marvelous example of an advertisement piece that seeks to acquire the interest of potential tourists. The image portrays a nearly naked Hawaiian woman lying on a beach in a rather seductive pose that clearly targets male audiences and offers them a sexualized welcome to Hawaii. This piece unintentionally highlights the objectification of Hawaiian civilians, and of the female body, as a commodity that may be easily accessed to satisfy the capricious desires of a capitalistic system.
The rather indecent characterization of this woman is based on stereotyped beliefs that propose that Hawaiian girls are merely tourist attractions, willing to offer themselves up to privileged foreigners. In this distorted system she is but a commodity that may be used and discarded at whim. In the picture she even embodies a form of nonverbal communication that suggests that she accepts this system that she is subjected to. She’s smiling, sitting seductively and holding what appears to be a red carnation lei that would serve as a welcoming gift for the male tourist. This type of pictorial manipulation only serves to reinforce the prejudiced ideas that Hawaii is full of submissive, giggling hula girls who are always ready to entertain others.
Although Hawaii is officially a U.S state it is often treated as if it were some far off exotic land, rich in readily accessible goods. Its tropical climate and rich history, involving indigenous Polynesians, may be contributing factors that encourage this fictitious idea. Yet, one may argue that our white-dominated capitalist nation simply wishes to create an illusion that Hawaii is distant and exotic so that more profit may be yielded from travels to this particular location. Spending thousands in a national trip may sound outrageous, but doing the same in order to travel to an eccentric and far-off place sounds far more reasonable.
By portraying the state of Hawaii with the usage of images such as the one previously discussed the nation is not only able to make financial profits but is also able to disguise the various problems that Hawaii is facing. As one of the poorest states in the nation it is clear that Hawaii is facing problems that are far too complex to be solved by dancing hula girls. However, as we continue to portray Hawaiians as a separate and commodified population it then becomes difficult to place their concerns ahead of our economic gains. W.E.B du Bois once stated that “to be a poor man is hard, but to be a poor race in a land of dollars is the very bottom of hardships”. This is a statement that unfortunately describes the current situation Hawaiians are in. It may be the case that in order to revolutionize this system of Hawaiian objectification our values concerning economic progress need to be modified, and this is a change that most likely will not occur any time soon.