Community Update

World Pulse Toolkits Available!

At World Pulse, we recognize the need for ongoing learning—for you and for your community! Our toolkits are all available here.

We are especially excited to share our signature Citizen Journalism and Digital Empowerment Curriculum. Start learning today!

Commercialization of female body

Should you walk down the streets of any Italian town, whether big or small, you would be surprised by the overwhelming presence of advertising placards showing sexy ladies’ almost naked bodies. It does not matter whether the advertised object is a special glue, a car or a blender, what you can see is a beautiful woman in a provocative attitude trying to convince you that she has the object of your desire.
And it works.
The cradle of Latin culture seems to have left into oblivion its nobility in favour of a morbid and depraved taste in looking at naked breasts and bottoms to the point that, most of the times, people could not even tell what was the thing being promoted.
The situation gets even more distressing if we focus on television shows. Beautiful, young girls who pretend to be dancers or presenters, show their beauties in front of the voyeuristic eye of the camera which indulges on firm “b-sides”, as we call them. Moreover, in some soccer shows the hostess is usually a girl who has no idea of what she is talking about. But it does not matter. She is beautiful, men will forgive and forget her incompetence.
Where is this phenomenon leading us?
The consequences of such tendency are many, and alarming.
First of all, it is important to make a distinction between the effects that such female presence has on men and women, which are two different types of audience.
Probably, the programmes addressed to men will benefit from the presence of a young attractive girl, as TV rating data confirm.
Thus, while TV programme makers profit of the situation, a dramatic mechanism gets off the ground. The reiterated offer of female bodies which have nothing else but their beauty to show, leads men to consider all women as mere objects, empty wrappings.
Influenced by this idea, they will relate to all women in real, everyday life, as if they were relating to the girls they see on TV, in case these women are pretty; if they have the misfortune to be unpretty, they will never be given a chance.
This has a huge impact on the lives of women, since they are solely judged based on what they look like, even though the result is almost always the same: is she pretty? She will necessary be a stupid goose. Is she ugly? She is not even worth talking to.
But the commercialization of female body, also results in a deeper consequence: women start feeling uncomfortable in their own bodies. To see supermodels, slim, beautiful girls and women is frustrating, and even more frustrating is to see they are admired.
They become role models, the target to reach at any cost. Thus we see teens having recourse to cosmetic surgery, women wanting to look fifteen and tormenting their bodies until they look unnatural and fake.
Only to catch one more sight and feel appreciated.
We need to stop, “erase and rewind” to say it with the Cardigans’.
As I once suggested, re-education is needed. Re-educating men and boys to respect, re-educating women and girls about their intrinsic value.
Examples of ordinary, successful, intelligent, beautiful women should be given more room by mass media, so as to provide an alternative, and show a different way to be a woman exists and is possible.

Comments

angelique gatsinzi's picture

The politics of the female body

I once asked that very same question to a former teacher of mine and she gave me the most simplistic answer, ' women sell and men buy.' You just have to walk into Harrods (department store in London) to know this ... beautiful girls with healthy long blonde/brown hair, carefully applied make-up, pearly white smiles and not a sight of a love-handle underneath their pressed Chanel, Clinique, Louis Vuitton and Hermes uniforms.

I mean you will rarely ever find a 'beautiful' woman in a position of leadership, she must always have that kind of matron, unpainted face and out-of-fashion style which a lot of people associate man-eaters with... see Margaret Thatcher, Condoleezza Rice and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for examples.

Anyway I don't see this changing for a while yet but it's such a shame that your looks can affect your position in life.

Good job for bringing this issue up on World Pulse.

Cali gal Michelle's picture

Dehumanizing women

Thank you for your great article. This is also such a problem in the US. Even the commercials shown on kids' television shows, reveal very cute children with perfect hair and clothing. And that is just the beginning. I don't know what the solution is, but to continue talking to our youth. Young ladies need to be reminded by us that what they see is not real. It is a pre-fabricated notion of what beauty is, and not REALLY what beauty is. In fact, there is so much after-effects and altering of the original film that the women we see in the media are, in fact, FAKE!

Let us continue to raise our voices and show what real beauty is!

Peace-
M.

Let us Hope together-
Michelle
aka: Cali gal

Listener
Sister-Mentor
@CaliGalMichelle
facebook.com/caligalmichelle

mirette's picture

Speaking of beautiful babies

To continue on your comment Michelle, I see women who are envious of each other jut because one has a more beautiful baby than the other. I remember a friend of mine who was so fond of her niece only because she looked beautiful. The problem is that people all over the world are putting standards for beauty and aren't tolerant of diversity or the uniqueness of each human shape and body.

I salute you Choirgirl for this eye opening article, and I totally agree with you that we always have stereotypes in our minds that a beautiful woman is always "dumb" and an ugly woman is "unlucky" one.

Mirette

choirgirl's picture

I agree

Girls, I totally agree with both of you and, Angélique you perfectly got the point: women sell, men buy.
It must be our committment to slowly deconstruct the system by our everyday conduct at work, in society, always.
Also, I will never stop saying: we will raise the next generation of men and women, so much will depend on us!
The value of human being, that's the message to be conveyed.

Stay strong!!

Maria

pinkypradhan's picture

I cdn't agree more. The

I cdn't agree more. The situation is the same in India. It is disheartening and to a point disgusting. During my brief stint with the advertising industry, even after wonderful creatives the client would demand that a sexy model should be there wearing bare minimum clothes. While taking down the briefing I would be filled with anger and my superiors would say this is how it works.Even you being in this industry has to do with your looks rather than your talent or the fact that you studied from one of the most premier institue.Out of frustration after a point, I left the industry for good to be a part of the non-profit world, but here also the commodfication of women happens, though may be in a subtle form and instead of bringing sexual appeal may be an emotional one.

Maria, I really loved reading your article.Way to go girl!!!

Pinky

Pinky

choirgirl's picture

Had no idea...

Hi Pinky, hope to find you well.
First off, I like your enthusiasm, you sound pretty determined!
I had no idea of the commodification of women in non-profit world, I never had experiences of that kind...
would you tell me more? What was your experience?
Look forward to hearing from u,
thx!! ;)

Maria

Breese's picture

Maria - thanks for sharing

Maria - thanks for sharing your thoughtful and thought-provoking words on this issue, one that faces societies around the world. Here's a link to a movement in the U.S. you might find interesting: http://www.missrepresentation.org/welcome.html

Keep up your beautiful writing!

choirgirl's picture

Thank you!

Hi Breese!!
Thank you so much, and thanks for the link!!

Hugs

Maria

pinkypradhan's picture

Maria, What I meant was how

Maria,

What I meant was how children and women are in a way commodified in the non profit sector. In order to show poverty and hunger we show half clad children and we pick women who has been woed down in misery.We choerograph the shoot and make them act so that the emotinal chord of a donor can be pulled.

Best
Pinky

Pinky

Cali gal Michelle's picture

choreographing

My husband works for a non-profit. It drives him NUTS that other NGO's totally pose actors or even real people to pull at old ladies' heart strings here in the states. One of his colleagues said they didn't like his magazine cover showing a successful, happy, proud African woman- shouldn't they be printing a bone-skinny child with a fly in his eye? Seriously people. Let's propagate TRUTH not fake drama!

Peace-

M.

Let us Hope together-
Michelle
aka: Cali gal

Listener
Sister-Mentor
@CaliGalMichelle
facebook.com/caligalmichelle

choirgirl's picture

Yes

Oh yes, I see what you mean...emergencies turned into a show...

Hugs,

Maria

MaDube's picture

Don't know how I missed this

I just saw this now and I have no idea how I had missed it before. This is beautifully written Maria and you talk about an issue that is important to women's empowerment. Gone are the days when an advert for rice or salt was accompanied by a picture of the rice or salt itself. It is always a pretty woman and as you said that petty representation of women has taken us steps back in our fight for recognition as full, worthy human beings. I think it is also this idea that if the packaging is good then you have to buy it that promotes trafficking of women and children where they are then sold as mere commodities. It is demeaning to say the least.

Great post.

Hummingbird's picture

Consequences

I know, it is too cray. A while ago I read this stupid article saying that a study (they did not say who conducted it) found that beautiful people work in better and much profitable jobs! and ugly women are more likely to stay home than work! now the first idea occurred to me is definitely plastic surgeons payed and promoted such study, it is insane. what's next? hiring doctors, engineers, lawyers, teachers and professional depending on their looks? ask women to put their breast seize on their CVs?

Even someone like me who sees all people beautiful and see smart and hardworking people more beautiful than others. I fell in this psychological war and start to feel uncomfortable in my own body, and at the same time I know it is insane and false.

I agree that such practices create a generation of men disrespect women, objectify women. women will also start looking to each others as objects and competitive. This cause a deterioration of culture in any society and creates a shallow and self-absorbed individuals.

We need to do our best stop this in media especially internet.

A drop of rain can revive the earth, be the drop.

Hummingbird

choirgirl's picture

My dear Nisan

My dear,
I perfectly know what you mean when you say such pressure led you to feel uncomfortable in your own skin. And I know this is a kind of feeling we can barely fight against for it slowly enters our everyday making us feel out of place. Despite our intelligence and our skills we end up looking at the mirror thinking "I do not fit society". Me too, I perfectly know I have much more than my looks, but still it happens to me to be on a diet for periods...things like that. This may sound superficial, but it is exactely what the "era of the image" is about. As you titled, these are the consequences we all women undergo. After all, we are human beings and we absorbe all the imputs coming from the outside.
Also, I much appreciated your mention to competitiveness: the effect of all this is that we either struggle to be beautiful and at the same time criticize women who are not. And we also critcize those who are too much and cause us to be envy.
"Human. All too human" Nietzsche used to say.
But it's time foor us to break free.

Don't give up girl!!

Maria

RenKiss's picture

Loved this post. Women who

Loved this post. Women who don't want want follow society's beauty standards are often shunned or criticized. Even pointing out commercialization is met with ridicule or disdain. Then there's the issue of commercialization of women's bodies that can lead to dehumanization then violence.

Thank you for writing this.

Magazine »

Read global coverage through women's eyes

Inside Congo's Growing Sisterhood

Inside Congo's Growing Sisterhood

Community »

Connect with women on the ground worldwide

Myra Musico: My Disability Is Not an Obstacle

Myra Musico: My Disability Is Not an Obstacle

Campaigns »

Be heard at influential forums

WWW: Women Weave the Web

WWW: Women Weave the Web

Programs »

Help us train women citizen journalists

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

World Pulse Voices of Our Future

Blog »

Read the latest from World Pulse headquarters

EMAGAZINE: Bridging Borders

EMAGAZINE: Bridging Borders

Partners »

Join forces with our wide network of partners

Nobel Women's Initiative

Nobel Women's Initiative