Fashion + Feminism

Objectifying Women in Fashion for Business

Sex sells! We are all clear on this and thoroughly exploit it throughout the world of advertising. Sex is one of our most basic animalistic survival instincts. We can’t help it. It’s like bread and water, we simply need it for our race to continue to exist.

In the animal world, there are mating rituals and desirability will determine success and ultimate mating and procreation. The human world isn’t much different. Women need to be desirable to touch on the most basic instinct of arousing the sexual desire of a partner. Objectifying women in fashion has therefore become common practice.   

Many industries use this to make money. Arousing sexual fantasies is the trigger to draw in the consumer. The fashion industry profits from this massively, as it quite literally sells products to make us look a certain way.

Objectifying women in fashion today

The 20th and 21st century bear witness to the emancipation of women. Yet, society still measures a woman’s desirability with her outer appearance of a woman. The fashion industry takes this a step further. It has a tendency to create ads that depict women as objects rather than sentient beings with other values.

American Apparel is known for overly sexualised ads, one of which shows a man holding on to a woman’s ankles while she splits her legs in front of him, the rest of her not in the picture. One of Gucci’s ads depicts a woman lying on a man’s lap, supposedly in position to be spanked. These two shocking examples of a woman as a sex object are from recent years.

Re-thinking Fashion Advertising

Is it necessary to make women into sex toys for the sake of selling clothes and making a profit? Do we really need to be objectifying women in fashion? Would it not make sense to use the rising tide of emancipated womanhood and appeal to aspects of beauty besides her sexual qualities?

Modern women want to be valued for more than just sex. The modern woman will not respond favourably to a fashion ad that makes her look like a sex toy. It seems, therefore, completely counterproductive to use such imagery to sell in this way.

People are increasingly opting for brands that promote sustainability. Just the same, women and men should be opting for brands that promote a healthy image of a woman’s beauty. This is not just morally and intellectually correct. It is a business practice that can easily catch on, since it is the rising tide of our times.

Reflecting on Women’s Self Worth

Rationally, many of us are shocked to be objectified in this way. Emotionally we are even hurt. But subconsciously so many of us are still on auto-pilot, programmed by previous generations. Many of us are flattered when we are validated for our sexual desirability qualities.

How many of us spend a lot of time thinking about what to wear for a date? How many of us are devastated when we see that first grey hair, or line in our face? How many of us would jump at the opportunity to join an important business meeting because the boss said, ‘we need a woman in the room and you are perfect’?

The time is now, to get rid of ancient programming. Our rational minds are there and our hearts are growing into it, but our subconscious minds have some catching up to do. It is that subconscious that impairs a woman’s confidence. We doubt ourselves much more than men do.

What Pauline Claunce and Suzanne Imes describe as the “Imposter Syndrome” is the syndrome in which women feel more easily undeserving than men do. They may be ‘imposing’ and “worry more about being disliked, appearing unattractive, outshining others, or grabbing too much attention”, as written in Forbes Magazine.

Women to Shape a Glorious Fashion Future

Sure, the media needs to change the way it depicts women. Objectifying women in fashion needs to stop! Women, however, are now in a position to shape the world and media the way it should be. We no longer need to stand for this degradation. We are ready to demand to be shown and seen for the valuable beings we are.

Beautiful and powerful in ways that we have only begun to discover, we need to enshrine this into the depths of our beings and unleash the fully emancipated woman out into the world. Then a picture of an objectified woman is ridiculous and undeserving of our attention.

It is not women’s responsibility that they are objectified. But, we live in a time where we have the power to determine the course of history. Let’s shape a fashion industry that appreciates the full glory of a woman’s beauty!

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