It Could Be a Compliment, But...

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It could be a compliment that women are found so attractive that they are used to draw people’s attentions to products. But is that really the kind of compliment that women want to get?
There’s the beautiful woman seductively arching her back over a bottle of liquor, her face not even on the page. There’s the pretty, blonde, half-naked teen looking helpless, straddled by an older man with an aggressive appearance and an arm tightly around her waist. There’s the adolescent girl in the “cute” Mickey Mouse panties and bra, with “Fun” written across her behind. There’s the otherwise-elegant woman in the low-cut, red dress, surrounded by a posse of men looking down her cleavage and touching her body. This may sound shocking, but all of these are common occurrences in ads. These may not necessarily be the ads blown up on billboards, but they are all over, “hidden away” in magazines and on T.V.
Some billboard advertisements, though, do sell their products, using images of women. “1-800-ASK-GARY” is a place that helps people find free medical and accident lawyers. On their billboard is a picture of a woman posing by the letter “Y.” Speaking of “Y,” why is there a woman on the billboard? What does she, in her black, mid-thigh, puffy skirt and tight shirt, have to do with free medical or accident lawyers? Is this stiletto-sporting woman a lawyer? If the firm had wanted her to be a lawyer they would have had something that suggested that she was a lawyer, but, no, she is just standing there looking pretty – drawing people’s eyes to the billboard. Plus, Gary is a man’s name, so it’s not like her name is Gary.
High school, freshman year, in Health class the teacher had us choose ads that we found offensive. I chose a Dolce & Gabbana ad that was selling a perfume called Light Blue. The picture, spreading two pages wide, was of a young, pretty woman looking vulnerable and submissive in her skimpy, white bikini. Holding her firmly around the waist, and straddling her from behind was an older man who looked violent and controlling. The girl’s head was tilted back in despondency and her arms lay limply in front of her. The dissimilar pair sat stranded on a little rowboat a ways out from a cliff, surrounded by vibrant blue water, and away from anyone or anything else. I look at this ad and wonder what the message is that Dolce & Gabbana is trying to convey. I know the goal is to sell the perfume, but what does the image have to do with perfume? Sure, the water in the background could be light blue – like the name of the perfume, Light Blue -, but honestly it’s more of a middle shade. So, what does a subservient girl have to do with perfume - especially accompanied by a hostile man? Are they saying that the perfume will make women servants to men? Are they saying that submissive women are attractive - that women should just give in to a man’s every wish – good or bad? That’s not a message that needs to be conveyed through an ad. There are so many other ways that perfume could be advertised. For example, since perfume is a product that appeals to the olfactory senses, so there could be something else that appeals to the nose as well to make that connection. They could make a beautiful and enticing ad by resting an elegant perfume bottle covered in elaborate engravings on a bed of fresh, colorful, sweet-smelling roses. To me, that ad would be much more attractive. I want to smell like a rose, not an object of sex.
So, it could be a compliment that women are idolized enough that they are used to beautify or draw attention to things. But it is also an insult to their intelligence as human beings that people think it is okay to use women’s bodies in that way. Because, really, the companies are not using the women themselves, they are using their appearance. The women’s beings, and personalities are contorted and erased as they are posed in their sexy positions, completely annihilating any reverence for the female soul and replacing it with lust for their figure. In the ads, women are not used as people, they are used as props. Props, by definition, are objects, they are not human beings. So, by using a woman as a prop, the company is thereby removing her dignity and her soul.
It could be a compliment, but it’s not.





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