Clothing for Women to Wear? Or for Men to Look?
by TBS.K. on February 27, 2017 - 5:00pm
The Italian luxury fashion brand Versace made an ad campaign back in spring 2016 showing men and women dressed in the season’s new clothing products and accessories. On this picture, there are three women in the front and a man in the back. Their clothing style is very different: the women are wearing clothes that is very showy, while the man is dressed in full black suit. The most upfront woman is holding a bag between her legs which are spread open, the other woman sitting on a chair has her vest unbuttoned and only wearing a bra-looking piece of clothing underneath, and the third woman is wearing the least among them. All of them have this perfect body shape that cannot be achieved without the help of Photoshop.
First of all, there is a problem regarding the unrealistic standard of beauty directed at woman. In the society, the most majority of women cannot achieve the body shape that these models have, nor can they have the perfect tanned and smooth skin as shown. The advertisement is only portraying the most perfect kind of beauty that would please men, and not showing the other body types. In fact, most of the women nowadays think that they are not beautiful due to the kind of beauty standard portrayed in this advertisement, which can cause them to develop eating disorders such as anorexia and having low self-esteem (Cortese, 63). Moreover, the models selected for this advertisement all have blond hair mixed with a light shade of brown, which also excludes all other ethnicities. In fact, it is very hard to find a black-skinned model or an Asian model in ads, and this will also lower the self-esteem of the ethical-minority group of people. Furthermore, all three women looks young, just as older women should not be allowed to be shown on publicity. To sum up, the models present only shows one age group, ethnicity and body type. As they represent the society’s beauty standard, women who do not fit their characteristics can feel as they are not pretty enough.
Secondly, these models are highly sexualized. It is very unnecessary too show the standing model nearly naked and wearing high heels. The most upfront model is also very much sexualized. The expression on her face is very “sexy” and shows desire, which gets even worse because she is holding a bag in between her legs to hide her genitals. Even the make-up style (very heavy makeup, appearing eyeliner and eye shadow) is making her look more appealing and wild. All of this setting objectifies women a lot, as they should be objects just like the clothing and used only for sexual purposes; hence their desiring look, the skin exposure and the way the model is holding her bag. Of course, this is a very big misrepresentation of women, they are not dressed up like this and so much sexualized in real life. But again, this will influence them and make them think that this is the image they should have, which will cause self-objectification and make them think that they should indeed be like these models and wear short and attracting clothing to please men (Cortese, 61). It gives the society the wrong idea that all women need to do is to look pretty.
Finally, this advertisement is very sexist regarding the role both genders are playing. The women are like decorations, wearing flashy clothing, when the man, despite the fact that he is shown in the background, looks way more professional has higher socially-status than women. The man is in full suit and he has a very determinate way of walking, just as he is the boss. He is playing the role of the dominant one in the picture, and the women, on the other hand, appears to be the object that he can choose from, they all looks less professional, with short skirts and revealing tops. This shows how the “gender roles are set” (Cortese, 58), how the society expect men to success in business and how women are objectified. It gives the impression that women cannot be a company’s CEO or boss, and they should just make themselves look good to please the male population who, they, of course, can be successful in work and economically powerful. Is will influence the younger generation of women to think that they are not capable, despite the fact that they can perfectly achieve whatever the men are able to achieve.
It is not hard to modify this advertisement to make it less horrible. The women in this picture should firstly wear proper clothing like blouse and vest to make them look more office-looking. They should also use models with a more average body shape, and the most important of all, put the man and the woman on the same level (layout) to symbolize men-women equality. If this can be achieved, it will make this publicity way less sexist. However, it can still be improved by adding women and men of other ethnicities into the picture depending on the targeted audience. It’s still acceptable to say that the blond-haired models are used for an European only target, but since this is a picture posted on Versace’s official website, it means that the audience is worldwide, and therefore should not represent everyone by young, slim and blond women.
Cortese, Anthony J. “Constructed Bodies, Deconstructing Ads: Sexism in Advertising.” Provocateur: Images of Women and Minorities in Advertising, 3rd ed., Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, New York, 2008, pp. 57–89. 345-102-MQ: Gendered World Views, Prof. Sarah Waurechen, Marianopolis College, February 2017.
Tortora, Laura. "Campagne pubblicitarie moda Primavera Estate 2016." VOGUE, 02 Mar. 2016, http://www.vogue.it/moda/news/2016/02/12/campagne-pubblicitarie-moda-primavera-estate-2016-3/. Accessed 24 Feb. 2017