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Each year, all the biggest names in fashion release new ad campaigns to promote their newest collections, but Spanish artist Yolanda Dominguez noticed that the ads are often sexist, portraying women in compromising or violent situations. Dominguez showed a group of 8-year-olds the advertisements by different brands and asked for their opinions about what they saw in the images, all while filming. The results were surprising, to say the least.
Both boys and girls mentioned the same kinds of perceptions for the female models versus the male models. The female models were described by the kids as sick, sad, scared, drunk, hungry, drugged or dying, but the male models were perceived as businessmen, bosses, university students and superheroes.
If you thought these ads didn't affect your kids, think again. Their observations show clear evidence that there's a disparity in how women are portrayed in fashion editorials compared to their male counterparts. And, not only is there a disparity — women are often portrayed in implicitly violent situations, and the kids picked up on it. They often mentioned that they didn't want to be like the women in the ads, attaching negative stereotypes to them based on how they were posed in the photographs.
The female models were described by the kids as sick, sad, scared, drunk, hungry, drugged or dying, but the male models were perceived as businessmen, bosses, university students and superheroes.
In one image where a woman is halfway in a trash can, surrounded by men, the children couldn't understand why the woman was smiling. One boy said he couldn't tell whether they were helping the woman or abusing her. In a different ad, in which a woman is wearing a form-fitting dress while crouched on her knees and her face touching the floor, one of the children guessed that the woman had taken drugs. And yet, in another ad, where there are two women shown lying in the street, the boys guessed that the women had been run over by a van and killed. One little boy said if he passed by the women in the street, he would take them to a doctor to try to help them. Often, the children mentioned wanting to help the women.
Overall, the children's perceptions of the ads portraying women were almost exclusively negative, while ads portraying men were described as happy, good-looking, superhero-like, strong and powerful.
Dominguez's question in producing this project is exploring why we associate these kinds of images with glamour and luxury and why nobody seems to be doing anything about the obvious inequality it perpetuates in the fashion industry. The artist told Today that she's worried society accepts these kinds of images in advertising as normal, and that we should be voting with our wallets by not supporting the brands that disrespect women.