Gender relations often become the basis for advertising companies in the role of powerful mean of shaping public consciousness. However, the diversity of gender relations has consistently shown only a very limited set of images, the main of which being intensively exploited sexuality as the most important characteristic of modern women. This issue is transformed in all ways that will profitably influence on the product, appealing to the public imagery of women and transforming it to the definite system of values. By introducing the objectified attitude to the female, their body are used as an supplementary instrument n terms of conveying definite marketing idea that requires overestimated attention o women’s bodies: women comparison in terms of their weight to show the advantages of weight-loss pills; they are represented in a subordinate position to reinforce their vulnerable social status. As a result, women have started to be accepted as an object basing on their appearance without considering any inner peculiarities or conditions. Such magazines as Rolling Stone and Elle are considered quite popular periodicals among male and female population. According to the data provided by the Rolling Stone magazine website the target audience of the magazine are mostly men aged from 18 to 49 (“Reader Profile”).e. Elle magazine profile represents the women aged from the 18 to 39 years old as the target audience (“Audience”). These data show that both magazines involve the audience that is can be considered as core of the current generation that suppose to produce and maintain the main values in society. The Rolling Stone magazine tends to deal with the topics of music and pop-culture, while Elle magazine represents the main fashion trends and provides the target audience with the beauty experts advice. However, their covers tend to represent the image of women in terms of objectification and dehumanization conveying certain stereotypes through the appearance of the model. Therefore, covers of Rolling Stone from April, 2014 and Elle from May, 2013 while representing the aspects of fashionable women style, are really selling the idea of reinforcing social objectification of female body in term of dehumanization of women’s identity that does not coincide with the fashion world type.
Objectification and Dehumanization of Women in Modern Magazines
People exist in the cultural field which translates objectified image of women as something traditional and normal. Because of the ubiquity of the objectification practice, it is often overlooked and is not subjected to critical reflection. Since childhood, women are taught to think that their self-actualization is limited to areas that are useful and desirable for men. This is the result of the same belief system that asserts the perception of man as a purely corporeal object because of belonging to the female sex. It is important to understand that the culture (especially the mass culture) is a powerful tool for managing human behavior; it articulates the acceptability of an image forming relation to the phenomena. While television and magazines that are not familiar with the idea of equality dictate women how they should obtain self-realization, the problem of duplicating the images cliché remains urgent. Therefore, women objectification leads to women commoditization, the aim of which is to sell products (Tsetsi). This issue has been investigated by Jean Kilbourne in her public address “Killing Us Softly 4” where she reveals the main evidence of the objectification in the mass media and their negative influence on the women’s self-perception and men’s evaluation. The issue of unreasonable standards influence provided by mass media for the female population is also depicted in the article “‘Look at That Face’: Bad Advice for Self-Confident Girls and Women.”
Jeane Kilbourne calls the contemporary mass media condition the “toxic cultural environment” because of its obsession with the profits. It sacrifices women individuality in order to obtain the profits (Kilbourne). This leads to objectification of woman body, where appearance is treated not as a supportive instrument for representation of the insight features, but as a primary virtue that defines individual’s role in the society. Female bodies are continuously being used as the instruments for conveying certain sexual context. For this purpose, the female body is divided into parts which underline the certain products in the best way possible. Therefore, the depreciation of women takes place, leading to the shaping of social attitude as to an object and not as a personality.
The cover of the magazine Rolling Stone from April, 24 2012 pictures the actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus. In general, it is a picture of the naked woman with a tattoo on her back. However, the separate elements of the picture represent the examples of women objectification and dehumanization. The tattoo is supposed to resemble the legislative document. From the point of view of its law accuracy, this tattoo is neither a part of the Constitution, nor the Declaration of Right extract. However, the fact is that the text of this document is placed on the part of female body. In this case, the audience could see the example of transforming of woman’s body into the part of things (Kilbourne). The body on the current cover is represented as a piece of paper or the table that serves for creating the texts. Such an approach leads to dehumanization of women and, as a consequence, to the gender violence, terrorism, and sexual abuse towards females (Kilbourne). As it is easier to commit violence in relation to the object rather than to the individual, the perception of a female as an instrument or a part of some other object might cause corresponding attitude. It conveys the message that women can be negotiated and used in any way that will be good for the males. Although this fact is not mentioned on the cover by itself, some connotations can be revealed after examination of the inside magazine interview with the actress, where the picture of tattoo creation is represented. Again, the image of the male is introduced in the figure of the tattoo master/author of the document who uses actress’s body for his work. It reveals the male’s right to abuse female’s body in any way.
The next element that causes objectification of the Rolling Stone magazine cover is the pose of the model. It seems like the actress is taken by surprise and tries to hide. The unprotected nature of the female identity is revealed through this pose. It shows that women are vulnerable to the extra attention to their body and cannot conceal their privacy. The nude body is supposed to be the brightest example of the objectification as it points out the association of women identity with their appearance. In this case, the woman is represented as the object of someone’s pleasure (Kilbourne). Although the actress seems to be smiling slightly, the nude portrait causes discomfort and the sense of insecurity.
In general, the objectification of the discussed cover conveys the sense of humiliation and subordination of women. The hilarious intention of the picture shows that such a representation has to be treated as a norm. For the female audience, it creates the low self-perception and leads to the adoption of moral values to the demands of the fashion world, where a woman is just an object and not an individual. For the male audience, it conveys the meaning of their right to interfere to women’s privacy and treat them like an object without considering their feelings and mindset. This causes violence and abuse in relation to women.
The cover of the Elle magazine with the singer Rita Ora represents another type of objectification. For this cover, the singer wears the costume of Mickey Mouse, a famous cartoon character mostly associated with childhood and frivolity. In this case, the image of woman is represented in terms of her resemblance to the childish character. As a result of such an approach, the women are seen as dependent and not mature enough to be seriously accepted by the society. Here, model is treated as a doll that can be decorated in any way to amuse someone without considering whether it is humiliating or not. In terms of such an attitude, Janet Larson gives an example of the sixteen-year-old girl Elise, who supposes that any appearance imperfection will lead her to the public humiliation (Larson). Of course, it is clear that adding some kind of moustache is the means of conveying Mickey Mouse character. However, it introduces a deeper sense: any feature that does not match the image of the perfect face can be mocked and disregarded by the contemporary society.
The subordinate position of women on the Elle magazine cover is also maintained by the pose of the model. She is represented as a passive and indifferent person who is deprived of any feelings and does not even care about the transformations made with her body. Objectification in this case leads to dehumanization of the woman. She is perceived as an inanimate object that serves for someone’s entertainment. She is waiting to be used by purpose and does not worry about that.
One the one hand, Rita Ora is represented with the perfect make up, manicure, and skin, which is supposed to provoke positive feelings. On the other hand, the attachment of the beauty perfection to the image of Mickey Mouse provides the subconscious acceptance of the image which determines women objectification and dehumanization. The image of the toy deprives the audience of the serious perception of the woman and provokes the lack of respect in relation to the model.
Of course, it is hard to change the media policy. However, it is quite obvious that in case of replacement of several key elements of mass media, stereotyping can introduce public healthy values. For instance, if Julia Louis-Dreyfus were not depicted in the character costume or totally naked, she would be treated as a creative and skillful personality who could manage success in film industry. It would be better to change Rita Ora’s passive pose as a cartoon character to the simple image of Rita Ora, smiling and confident. In this case, the audience will try to find other connotations with her personality, such as a talented singer and not just a beautiful model.
In the contemporary society, there is a strong problem of women objectification. They are perceived as soulless tools who are supposed to meet men’s needs which leads to dehumanization of women’s personality in general. The perception of a person as the sum of body parts leads to the appearance of dehumanized image, which turns people into creatures that are able to appreciate only outward. It is the result of the modern media landscape that leads to the fact that women are dehumanized in the eyes of other people. Such an approach causes the phenomena of self-objectification, based on the value of one’s own body. Self-objectification leads to eating disorders, low self-esteem, depression, and sexual stereotyping.
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The objectification of women can be considered the determinant of women dehumanization in society. The most powerful instrument of introducing such values is mass media in general and fashion magazines in particular. Because of wide audience of such magazines, they can be considered the most dangerous instruments in shaping the mindset of society. As they are supposed to cover the issues of beauty and style in terms of celebrities’ lives, the conveyed messages become even more influential. It leads to the perception of the women identity as an object that can be treated in the way that tends to satisfy someone’s needs. Any kind of body imperfection is treated as an object of humiliation and disregard. In any case, such a policy has to be changed, as it provides society with values which encourage gender violence and devaluation of women’s identity.