Double standards in advertising objectification

by Dana Bohan

Recently, in a political science class titles, ‘Women in Politics’, a discussion turned to Super Bowl commercials. Students voiced opinions about the lack of female engineers in the VW ad and the overly sexualized Carl’s Jr. spot, but one stood out to me due to a lack of criticism: David Beckham’s H&M endorsement. 

We all have heard family members and pundits alike express disdain for advertising featuring scantily clad women a la Danica Patrick in her previous Go Daddy promotions. To the claim that such imagery is a negative influence upon young girls and young women, I completely agree. The evidence supporting such a belief is overwhelming; with studies suggesting that fifty percent of adolescent girls are dissatisfied with their physical traits, a 2008 University of Wisconisn study shows. I applaud efforts to remedy the abundance of these ads, as Go Daddy, Dove and others have begun to work for, but believe that this H&M ad shows an interesting parallel.

The sole remarks or opinions I have heard of this commercial are either commenting on Beckham’s attractiveness, either wearing or not wearing H&M’s clothes, and I doubt that many readers have heard anything too different.

 This observation was made in class, and the prevailing view was that young males are not affected by media imagery to the same extent, due to the less common nature of ‘male objectification’. I was surprised to hear such an opinion, particularly in a class that deals with such issues exceptionally similar to this. I had expected the opposite position, one not split over gender lines. 

I contend that this response exposes a sort of double standard, in that sexualizing women is vied as unacceptable, but doing the same to men is considered an effective promotional strategy. 

In essence, what I am trying to say here is that any form of body objectification, be it a female or male body, has noticeable negative impact on all of us. I disagree that one variety is preferable to the other, or that one can be ignored because it occurs less frequently. This double standard needs noticing, for the only way children of both genders will grow up not being ashamed of their bodies is if we, as a whole, stop responding to this sort of advertisement.