Throughout time, the images of women have changed. Society would like to believe that we now are in a position to say that we live in a society of gender equality. That would be ideal, but that is far from accomplished as of yet. Mass media, such as television, movies, and magazines, not only impact the men who view them, but they also impact the women who view them. Fashion magazines are most notorious for the ways that they portray women. I chose a variety of fashion magazines, W, Allure, Elle, and Cosmopolitan (British Edition) to illustrate how women are portrayed to society.
Most of the advertisements with men and women found in all of the magazines held the same connotations. In W magazine, I found an advertisement for Chanel. The woman is wading in water, holding up her skirt, with a jacket with no shirt underneath it. Behind her is a man with tattoos on his chest and arms whom looks as if he is stalking her. She seems to have no idea that there is a man stalking her behind her. She appears to be an unknowing woman who is about to fall prey to a “strong” man. In Elle, there is an advertisement for Guess. The woman is in her bra and is being held down by a muscular and persperating man.
She is in a very submissive position and seems to not be struggling with the man that is holding her down. Another advertisement is for watches from Cosmopolitan (British Edition). The woman is fully nude and facing fully forward. Behind her there is a man who appears to also be nude. The woman is in a vulnerable position with the man behind her in the dominant position. She is the submissive party involved. The man has his arms wrapped around the woman and her hands are touching his hands, suggesting sexuality (Jibou, Curry, and Schwirian). All of the advertisements with men and women have the men in dominant positions.
The women in these pictures are unnaturally skinny. They look as if they have been in hunger camps. The fact that these women look emaciated gives way to the idea that since these women appear to be hungry and will easily be taken by a man. Their hunger makes them more vulnerable. Also, how skinny the women are, give reinforcement to the idea that when men put on weight and age it is okay, but when women put on weight and age it is looked down upon by society (Jibou, Curry, and Schwirian). In W, there is an Opium (perfume) advertisement. The woman is totally nude wearing spiked stilettos, heavy makeup, and diamond jewelry.
She is holding her breast in her hand. The use of high heeled shoes is used as a way for men to have power over women (Jibou lecture). The high heel is seen as a way to make women weak and vulnerable to men. Yves Saint Laurent (company that makes Opium) did not put clothes on the woman, but did put spiked stiletto heels on her. The high heel is sexually appealing to men (Jibou lecture). Therefore having a totally nude woman, lying on her back sprawled out with her eyes closed, touching herself, and in stiletto heels, is an image that seems as if she is just waiting to be taken by a man.
The advertisements that were the most demeaning to women that portrayed them as submissive sex objects were from Fendi. The woman is portrayed as a bound sex slave under the control of someone other than herself. She is sitting on a chair and is blindfolded while she is in a revealing leather suit. The other advertisement shows the same woman straddling a chair with her spiked stiletto heel chained to her hands. As like many of the other advertisements, these advertisements are showing women as submissive and vulnerable.
As a plaything for men which are there for the pleasure and control of men, and that only. The advertisements that I found in W for Guess Jeans shows two very young women scantily in tight fitting jeans and tank tops. They appear to be persperating and the one woman behind the other has her arms around the woman in the front. I found that many advertisements that have more than one woman in them seem to portray the women in the advertisements as being sexual with one another. I am not sure why, but it seems to have an aura of deviance that men are enamoured by.
All of the advertisements in all of the magazines send the same message to women, that they need to be young, beautiful, painfully thin, vulnerable, and submissive. This is self-worth according to mass media. The advertisements send a totally different message to men. It tells men that it is okay to view women as sexual objects and symbols which are there for their own personal use and in some cases abuse. The magazines that I chose all were all “high fashion” magazines. The images from one magazine to another did not have many differences between them all.
The themes that are present in the portrayal of the images of women are found in all of the advertisements. The main theme is the whole idea of patriarchal society, a society in which men dominate women (Jibou, Curry, and Shiriwan). The advertisements show women as weak and submissive and even in some cases, in compromising positions. The images of women in these advertisements have different impacts on men and women alike. Unfortunately, there are different views on how women’s bodies should look like versus men’s bodies. Women have an unrealistic body image that is perpetuated by magazines and the media.
These images are portrayed by young models that are emaciated (Jibou, Curry, Shiriwan). These images impact men much differently. Men see these advertisements and they give them the “okay” to view women as objects of desire and even property. All of the advertisements I chose sell products via hints of physical and sexual violence against women, and women’s vulnerability and submissiveness. The hints are both subtle and intense. Advertisement after advertisement of stunning photographs showing emaciated and pained looking women with black shadows around their eyes and cheekbones.
The women clutch their bodies or look so vulnerable and hurt and thin that they could be war prisoners who have been so violated that they are now defenseless. If the goals of some of the companies which ran these advertisements was to find a publishable image that symbolized a rape or domestic violence victim, they could not do much better. In some cases, there are interspersed between these stylized images of hurt and vulnerable women are images of confident and powerful men. These men with their large hands and ample clothing are clearly victors, not victims.