Fashionable Objectification? #NotBuyingIt!

A few nights ago I realized I was in desperate need of a pair of shorts to help me deal with the oncoming humidity of Northeastern summers. So, I rushed to my local H&M right before they closed. I had about ten minutes to search for cute shorts, find them in my size, and try them on before the store closed (which is quite a feat if you’re familiar with H&M’s mysterious sizing sorcery). Though I was literally running for the register while clutching my cute new floral patterned high-waisted shorts, I managed to snap these pictures of some ridiculous graphic tees I found in the “Men’s” section.

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There were more of these “graphic tees” featuring close-ups and odd angles that cut off women’s heads and focus solely on sexualized parts of their bodies. As I expected, a quick look around confirmed that there were no analogous women’s (or men’s) tees featuring men in spandex or close-ups of their sinewy muscles. Driving home, these shirts occupied my thoughts. I was trying to figure out what bothered me about them. There was the obvious implicit male gaze of the photographs, the objectification of a woman’s body, and the slicing up of that body into only its desirable parts. But there was something else that was bugging me about the photographs. It was their voyeuristic quality–the idea that they were literally taken without the knowledge of their subject from a vantage point of behind or below her. It reminded me of the “Creepshot” community on the popular website, Reddit, which featured “upskirt” photos and pictures of women taken without their consent. I wondered whether the model whose body was on display knew she would be reduced to her butt covered in a patriotic bikini on a tee-shirt for men? With the retail clothing industry’s history of stealing images without the knowledge of their rightful owner, this didn’t seem like a far reach. I also wondered who this tee-shirt was being marketed to–who was the man that would see this disembodied female body on a tee-shirt and think it would look really cool in their summer wardrobe?

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H&M was recently celebrated in some zones of feminist media for their advertisement for “normal” clothing featuring a “plus-size” model. Though I was far from cheering at that excuse for progress, it reinforced for me the vigilance we must have as feminist consumers. Companies are not in the business of making a feminist revolution (obviously,) they are in the business of making profits (capitalism, people).  So, get on Twitter and tell H&M you are #NotBuyingIt!

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2 Comments

Filed under advertising, body image, feminism, human rights, identity, politics, privilege, rape culture, sexism

2 responses to “Fashionable Objectification? #NotBuyingIt!

  1. great post, I’ve noticed that a lot of shops now sell tshirts like these and I just don’t understand why they are suddenly ‘fashionable’ ?!

  2. I didnt really read all the way through but I gathered that, You have such a skewed view. Your deciding to look at these things that way. You say they cut up the womans body and only show the desirable parts. The angles and not showing the face especially gives it characteristics of anonymity, mysteriousness, thus coolness/and an artsy feel. Also with the angles, with the girl surfing as the example, the angle doesnt make it seem like she doesnt know… its not some creeper shot… if anything that picture in particular is art. Also why is a face any better than a breast, or foot, ass, or leg. Yeah and ass shot is sexual, but its also attractive, but not necessarily in a purely sexual way, yeah you might say I’d tap that, but when looking at it I personally just feel like thats a nice ass not like perverted in anyway, its just good looking, unless your actually perverted. And its public swimwear, why would anyone one wear it if the way your talking about a picture of someones ass wearing it is so bad, like that makes no sense, I live in hawaii you can literally only asses for days if you really wanted to but no one does that except for a select few, and is not in all any way related to that shirt. K Im just rambling shoot! Idk if they say shoot out of hawaii so peace!

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