Alexander Wang or Alexander Wrong? The Truth Behind Provocative Modeling.
by beau98 on September 26, 2016 - 4:10pm
If you haven’t already heard, Alexander Wang is now known as one of the edgiest and controversial designers in today’s fashion industry. His recent advertisements have been degrading and dehumanizing towards women. In this ad, the model, Anna Ewers, is slouching in a public bathroom stall with a look of disorientation, wearing men’s clothing. There are several bolded, gendered messages being conveyed towards women and men in this advertisement.
It is easy to see that the model in this ad is being portrayed as promiscuous and submissive through the position she sits in; her legs are open, she is slouched down and is defenseless. This creates a vulgar and artificial image of a woman “model”. Women are constantly reminded of what the ideal body image is when it isn’t even in fact real. Most ads, including this one, are photo-shopped to enhance the model’s body or face. Consequently, women are constantly chasing an ultimate image that isn’t actually obtainable. In addition, the message sent in this ad is that women are disposable objects for male pleasure. This dehumanizes women to a large degree.
This ad is also concerning for several reasons. First, the fact that it is still accessible to the public is alarming. There have been many ads that have been banned for the sake of inappropriate and explicit images. But this ad carries out a bigger message. It portrays both genders in the most sexually oriented way possible, as if all there is that link men and women is dominance and submissiveness. This is quite possibly the worst interpretation of today’s society and is quite concerning. Second, the image normalizes and desensitizes the public towards vulgar or violent images. It communicates the ideas of women as inferior and males as dominant. This is particularly concerning because they shape the way society views both genders. It creates a false message that it is acceptable to treat women like objects without allowing them to have a voice. What is perhaps most problematic in this ad is that Anna Ewers is seen as a role model for many younger women. Not surprisingly, the modeling industry has a huge impact on the way young women see themselves. The word “model” itself is something that one mimics. Because these models are what these young girls aspire to look like, a large problem is created. When "more than half of all women are disgusted by their bodies" (Cortese 68), it is extremely sad to say but the self-esteems of these young women are practically destroyed.
There are many aspects of this ad that need to change to make it less sexist and to better sell the product. The fact that a woman is wearing men’s clothing is the number one trigger that Wang’s advertising strategies are not optimal. Since the products being sold here are a men’s dress shirt and men’s boxer shorts, it would be much more affective to have a man modeling them. This way, men that are interested in these clothes can see what they might look like on a body similar to theirs. Secondly, the product being sold should be advertised more in a more socially respectful manor, not on a girl in a bathroom stall. Since he is selling high-end designer clothes, a fancy setting would be fitting and alluring to his targeted consumers.
Advertisements like this are a bruise to society. This one in particular conveys a message of an unobtainable image that thus crushes the self-esteem of women worldwide. Photographers and designers need to stop portraying women in an unspoken and subordinate manor and start portraying them like the equal members of society that they are. It is through mass media that social norms are interpreted and it is through mass media that women will learn to appreciate the beings they truly are.
Cortese, Anthony. "Constructed Bodies, Deconstructing Ads: Sexism in Advertising. "Provocateur: Images of Women and Minorities in Advertising, Third Edition (New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2008): 57-89.