As I look at commercials and magazines, I'm reminded that though male and female models are both used to market products, women are the most vital assets to advertising. They are constantly displayed throughout various fashion and food ads. What's strange, however, is that if you Google "objectification of women" these same ads appear. It made me wonder if industries are *gasp* using women to make a profit?
As I considered this, I realized that companies must be in the right. They would never willingly objectify women.
Companies understand that sex sells. And it makes sense - Men and women were put on the earth for each other. Sex is a biological part of life. When a company compares boobs and buts to burgers and cinnamon rolls, it's not meant to be crude at all! It's just using simple innuendo, which is funny. In fact, it's highlighting the beauty of a woman's body while also showing that those foods taste as good as women make men feel.
That's the issue, right? It's all about how men feel. No, of course not!
Ads also allow women to see how beautiful and happy they will be if they buy certain products. I know that I feel fulfilled and much more inclined to purchase shoes, makeup, handbags, and more if I know that they'll make me like the models. I greatly appreciate ads that feature women without heads because they adhere to a broader audience. Most importantly, I love to be viewed as an object. It's so cool to learn, from a young age, that my worth comes from my body.
If you weren't outraged by the above section, or need some clarification, watch this video.
The #WomenNotObjects campaign tackles an important conversation about women's role in the world of advertising
According to the U.S. Department of Justice's National Crime Victimization Survey, "an average of 293,066 women (age 12 or older)" are victims of rape and sexual assault each year. That's roughly one assault or rape every 107 seconds. Many ad campaigns reinforce rape culture because they trivialize sex. They make it look glamorous to hold women down, tie them up, and spread open their legs. These ads also play into this traditional view of masculinity. They make it seem as if men must control women to truly be manly.
Ad campaigns also hypersexualize female bodies. Many girls don't feel pretty unless they buy certain products and look exactly like the models. It causes girls to think that the beauty standard lies in thigh gaps, prominent collarbones, and Kylie Jenner's lips. And though this is unrealistic, it still leads to very real, very long lasting effects like a lack of confidence, self-doubt, depression, and eating disorders.
Some ad companies are breaking this trend. Lane Bryant recently released an ad to empower women and show them that "#ThisBody is meant to be seen. Every curve. Every roll. Every inch. Unapologetic, strong and beautiful." The commercial, which can be seen below, asks women to photograph themselves and share the pictures on social media to "show the world what your body’s made for."
Though this video is revolutionary, beautiful, and real, ABC and NBC both declined to air it. In a statement, NBC claimed that
"The first edit was turned down out of hand and while we clearly created the commercial to air we will not edit it as we believe it’s a beautiful and appropriate expression of women’s bodies. We do plan to air this through our own media and through digital channels where they find it as acceptable."
It's sad that this is "less acceptable" than the countless vehicle, food, and fashion ads that blatantly use sexism and innuendo to make a profit off of the female body. I don't know why it's 2016 and we still have to teach people that women's bodies are not meant to be objectified. But I hope that campaigns like #WomenNotObjects and #This Body will remind the world that women are neither toys nor trophies. Women are mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends. Women are coworkers, peers, and most importantly: women are human beings.