women in media

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

"Silence is the residue of fear"

"We spend so much time listening to the things people are saying that we rarely pay attention to the things they don't," says poet and teacher Clint Smith. We live in a society that so often values tolerance and individualism at the expense of standing up for what we believe is right. We are taught in our education systems to ask questions, but not actually care about the answers because toleration is a leading societal value that trumps truth because we don’t want to offend anybody.

Please do not misunderstand me, I believe celebrating individualism is a good thing because each person is unique with their own voice. I also believe it is important to be gracious to all people. However can we not engage in a meaningful and respectful dialogue even if we don’t agree?

For example, we see way too many unnaturallythin models walking the runaway and then say, “Well that is their decision” instead of saying; “I disagree with that andwhat should do we about it?”

Or we just think, "I wish I was taken more seriously," as we continue to see women and young girls depicted very narrowly in the media in manners that emphasize and value their  sexual and physical attractiveness at the expense of other important internal characteristics. 

As Smith says, “Sometimes we spend so much of our time telling people the things that they want to hear, appeasing ignorance with [our] silence unaware that validation doesn't need words to endorse its existence."

I believe that we need to use our voices and engage with others on issues that matter to us.

"Silence is the residue of fear."

Take 4 minutes and watch this Ted talk. You won't regret it.

Why does size 0 or 00 even exist?

You walk into the men's section of a clothing store and find pants are sized 28, 30, 32, 34 etc. You go into a different store and find the same. Then you walk into a women's store and try on a pair of pants and find the sizes, 000, 00, 0, 2, 4, 6, 8 etc. You try on a pair of pants and determine you are size 6. The you walk into another store and determine you are size 4, then a size 8 all in different stores. What is going on??

First of all why are woman's sizes so different?

And why on earth do sizes like 0 even exist? 

If you don't have access to Jean Kilbourne's Killing Us Softly

Jean Kilbourne Killing Us Softly Media
Jean Kilbourne Killing Us Softly Media

Then at least take a look at this 4 minute blog by Laci Green about how arbitrary retail sizes pressure women and girls to believe they have to have this thin, yet curvy and essentially impossible beauty standard.

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Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 3.18.25 PM