(the first post in the modern woman series can be read here
Remember that one time when we traded our body image for our right to vote?
Okay, I have a degree in history, and I know that is not exactly what happened. But it’s kind of what happened.In this post, I would like to pose a few questions. Do you mind? Let us take a quick jaunt through history, if we may. We will start with these women:
These women you see here, did not have to worry about swimsuit season. By golly, they did not even have to worry about cellulite, or stretch marks, toned legs, back fat, knee fat, ankle fat, fat calves, or flat abs. The only way these women could even know that another woman had less cellulite, or thinner thighs, was if they were in the same room getting dressed together. Isn’t that the craziest thought? A world without half-naked women with “perfect” bodies shoved in your face on a daily basis is kind of hard to imagine, isn’t it?
Sure, there were other things to worry about back then. Like giving birth naturally. And getting the vote.
But, for all the good these women were trying to do, equality, unfortunately, is not dictated by Congress. We may have won the right to vote…but has the way society views women changed for the better?
The women’s suffrage movement began in the late 19th century, and after years of determined campaigning, women finally gained the right to vote through the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution, in August of 1920. It was considered a triumph for women, and women were hopeful the world was progressing to new heights.
However, approximately 30 years later, advertising would cause one to wonder just how far we had come in the movement of women’s rights and equality.
And 30 years after that…
And 30 years after that…
I chose this ad because it is nowhere near the more common, racier ads we see in magazines.
However, as some of you may know, this ad featuring 17-year-old Dakota Fanning was banned from the markets in Britain.
If we only had advertisements to tell us what happened in the United States during the past one hundred years, how would you connect the dots between these photos?
Even with our knowledge of history, how do we connect the dots between these photos? Is this what the leaders of the women’s suffrage movement were fighting for? During the suffrage movement, women argued that men did not value them for their brains, yet, women were not portrayed as objects of sex in advertising. Arguably, that did not start until a couple decades later (at least to the extent women are sexualized today). So now that we can vote, what have we done with ourselves to show that we are self-respecting, competent individuals? And, if it matters, who’s to blame?
I am not saying that women have not done great things for the greater good. I am being critical of society as a whole. I have strong opinions about these things, but I think these photos speak for themselves, and all I am really trying to do is ask questions…
and suggest that if advertising and reality TV are telling young girls that they have to look like this, maybe, we haven’t fixed things yet:
Freaky, life-size, amputee Barbie images aside…for all the good society thinks it has done for women, maybe, we still have a long, long way to go. Thoughts? I would love to discuss.
P.P.S. The beginning of this book has some pretty hilarious things to say about female body image. I laughed out loud in Barnes and Noble. People might have stared. Do you know which part I am talking about?