The Short of It
Visual Artist Yolanda Dominquez from Madrid, Spain, put together a social experiment in which she showed children high fashion images. Their responses, which were unprovoked, revealed that they saw a major divide between the way male and female models are depicted.
Dominquez selected high fashion images from designers like Prada, Louis Vuitton, Boss, and others. In a YouTube video, we read the translated responses of the kids when they're asked what they see in the iamges, and how they think the model is feeling. The kids don’t hold back as they look at stick-thin female models. Here’s what they had to say about an ad showing a woman who appears to have fallen down (ouch!) concrete stairs. "She seems scared." "It is like...she is poor." "She needs a first aid kit to get healed.” One concerned child elaborated more: "I would ask my mom how we could help her so she could be in a shelter for a while and not out in the streets.” One ad showed a woman on the toilet in platform heels—the kids thought that perhaps she was in the bathroom due to "stress." There was a common perception of the female models: sad, depressed, and stressed. The men in the images, on the other hand were described as "boss" and said to be heroes preparing for University, or even better, FBI spies.
If this project was meant to show children how women are objectified and perceived in the media, it worked. Why are the male models the only ones who look healthy, tough and in charge? No, no, no. When even 8-year-olds can see the difference, I think it shows that fashion ads and images can—and should—do a better job of showing women in a more positive light.