I just watched Jean Kilbourne’s “Killing Us Softly III” in which Kilbourne offers an in-depth analysis of how advertisements have influenced and affected today’s women. Her main focus is on how women are depicted and how their bodies are objectified – usually as individual objects (i.e. legs, breasts, butt.. etc) rather than whole beings.
It seems almost more shocking to see a product that does not use sex in it’s advertising than a naked woman lying provocatively on a couch. Advertisements have a way of subconsciously speaking out about body image and presenting images of the ‘ideal body’. Kilbourne analyzes an ad for Armani Exchange in which a very thin model is sitting on the floor with a caption above her that reads “The more you subtract, the more you add.” Obviously the ad is subtlely suggesting that the thinner you happen to be, the more options you’ll have in wardrobe; it’s also suggesting that the less clothing you layer on the better you’ll look (?).
Despite the claims being made -probably by men- that the sexualization of women’s bodies is liberating to feminism, it seems to me that the only thing being liberated is the idea that a woman’s sexuality should be subservient to a man’s pleasure. In the Calvin Klein ads for the fragrance ‘Obsession – for men’ it features a sultry, svelte, naked Kate Moss posing seductively with the product name written in large font above her. Another ad for Calvin Klein Jeans shows a man grabbing the butt of a female… ironically, she is pantless.