Objectify Me... For The Artistic Expression. Actually Don't.

The 2015 Pirelli Calendar has just been released. It was shot by legendary photographer Steven Meisel who recently said in a press release, “In my opinion, these are the key aesthetic models of today’s world. They represent the stereotypes that the fashion and star system impose upon us right now.”[1] Well Mr. Meisel, I agree with you completely there – the fashion and star/celebrity system is yet again imposing this narrow stereotype of what beauty and feminism is.

He goes on to say, “… Since I wanted to limit the use of clothes and accessories and since I had absolute creative freedom, I found it very exciting to play with the colours, the makeup, and the materials. It was a very rewarding experience.”

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I am not against an artistic expression of beauty. I think playing with colours, make-up and materials can create powerful images. However, Mr. Meisel, the poses that you have shot these models in, is another beautiful illustration of how women are continuously sexually objectified. Women are dependably depicted in the media in ways that exclusively value their sexual and physical attractiveness.

Why is this so harmful?

Research tells us that the effect of living in a culture that sexually objectifies the woman’s body has negative impacts for both the woman and man who are viewing the sexually objectified picture.[2] When women consistently see images of other women sexually objectified it socializes them to think about themselves in terms of objects to be looked at and evaluated![3] Other studies have shown that after men view sexualized images of women they rate them as less capable intellectually and physically and score lower in egalitarian beliefs about men and women.[4]

Artistic expression is a beautiful thing. However, artistic expression that consistently portrays women in a one-dimensional narrow way is not beautiful, because the over all impact on the audience is detrimental.


[1] Wilson, J. 2014, The Pirelli Calendar 2015 Just Keeps Getting Hotter (NSFW Photos). The Huffington Post. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/18/pirelli-calendar-2015_n_6177344.html

[2] Fredrickson, B. L., & Roberts, T. (1997). Objectification theory: Toward understanding women's lived experiences and mental health risks. Psychology Of Women Quarterly, 21(2), 173-206. doi:10.1111/j.1471-6402.1997.tb00108.x

[3] Fredrickson, B. L., & Roberts, T. (1997). Objectification theory: Toward understanding women's lived experiences and mental health risks. Psychology Of Women Quarterly, 21(2), 173-206. doi:10.1111/j.1471-6402.1997.tb00108.x

[4] Behm-Morawitz, E., & Mastro, D. (2009). The effects of the sexualization of female video game characters on gender stereotyping and female self-concept. Sex Roles61(11-12), 808-823. doi:10.1007/s11199-009-9683-8