by jun on September 30, 2016 - 5:22pm
American teenagers spend 4 hours a week reading magazines (Miss Representation).
But has anyone ever noticed that there is something deeply disturbing in these so called ‘artistic high end fashion’ ads? Probably not. For the majority of the readers, they are just pretty to look at. In reality, these ads are subliminally conveying a sexist message.
Miu Miu, a brand under Prada, went under fire for their SS2015 advertising campaign that appeared in Vogue UK. Complaints have been lodged against this particular photo. This ad has been deemed ‘irresponsible’ and therefore has been banned by the UK’s Advertising Standards Agency. The ASA ruled that the advert can't appear again in its current form and this decision has generated a lot of reaction. Vogue UK, however, defended the ad saying that the magazine was sophisticated and their readers were educated to “appreciate top photography and great fashion models” (Dazed). Why is this ad so problematic? Too many reasons.
One of the most controversial aspect of this ad is the age of the model. Miu Miu has been accused of showing a child-looking model in a sexually provocative pose. Mia Goth, who is 22 years old, looks younger than 16 in this picture due to her youthful appearance, minimal makeup and slightly-too-large clothes. Nowadays, sexual objectification of children is a major issue. The article "Constructed Bodies, Deconstructing Ads: Sexism in Advertising" suggests that “Unavoidable mass media images of sexually objectified girls (and women displayed as adolescents) can cause psychological and physical harm to adolescents and young women” (Cortese, 19).
The techniques used in this photo are also questionable. This image appears to have been shoot through an open doorway, which creates a voyeuristic feel. This brings up another issue: consent. In the context of this phot shoot, models agreed to have their picture taken in a way that ‘invades their privacy’. It gives the false impression that it is okay to take this kind of picture in real life without the subject’s consent. This high-angle shot makes the model look vulnerable and by looking directly into the camera, she is completely exposed.
Other suspicious elements of this photograph are the details of the setting. With the door open, the privacy of the bedroom is violated. The display of the model laying on a bed reinforces the idea of a submissive female. The white crumpled sheets on the bed enhances the impression that her pose was sexually suggestive, as white symbolizes virginity, purity and innocence. In contrast, the color red of the shoes could be interpreted as sexual availability. Furthermore, the way that the model is gently pulling on her top exhibits a form of invitation. It all goes to show that Mia Goth is over sexualized in this Miu Miu campaign.
What exactly in this photograph says “high end”? Other than the brand name, nothing. Without it, this could be any another perverted picture on the Internet. What are they trying to sell? The clothes and accessories? The woman? Or the idea that a woman will only be desired in their clothing? According to Anthony Cortese, “The provocateur is not human; rather she is a form or hollow shell representing a female figure. Accepted attractiveness is her only attribute […] Cultural ideology tells women that they will not be desirable to, or love by men unless they are physically perfect” (10).
High end fashion advertising is so many shades of wrong, but the good news is that it is not too late fixed it. For starters, the perception of women in the media has to change. Women are not sexual objects and they should not be portrayed this way. In order to conform the norms of the Advertising Standards Agency, the model has to appear more mature. A woman can empower her sexuality but she has to have the legal age (or in this case, look legal) to do so. If a clothing brand is trying to sell clothes, then why not actually display these items?
High end fashion advertising can target women without exploiting women, especially “under aged” women.
Cortese, Anthony. "Constructed Bodies, Deconstructing Ads: Sexism in Advertising." 345-102-MQ Gendered World Views. Ed. Sarah Waurechen. Montreal: Eastman, 2016, 9-25. Print.
Meisel, Steven. Miu Miu SS15. November 22-24, 2014. New York. Dazed, http://www.dazeddigital.com/fashion/article/24657/1/why-was-this-miu-miu.... Accessed September 2016.
Miss Representation. Girls' Club Entertainment, 2011.