Saturday, January 18, 2014

Purse Girlcott

I've had an epiphany. I don't need to carry around a purse! I've never had an obsession about purses or needed to buy the most expensive brands. I usually just look for a purse with the right amount and sized pockets to carry around all those things I need, or might need for myself and possibly others. Purses, like Mary Poppins' carpet bag, become a catchall for variety of things you might possibly need and can start to weigh a ton and wreak havoc on the alignment of your spine. I recently discovered that I could fit everything I actually need on a daily basis in to my pants or coat pockets. It has been strangely freeing to go without my purse. I'm not weighed down, I don't have to worry about people stealing it, and I don't have to find a place to safely store it when I sit down somewhere. My arms and hands are free to do whatever. I feel light as a feather when I walk out the door. Initially I did panic that I had forgotten something, but I got over that in a few days when I got in to the habit of leaving my purse at home. This small change has given me a great amount of freedom that I wasn't expecting.

I've decided this is a great way to speak up about something that has always bothered me. Advertisers like to sexually objectify women and Photoshop them down to nothing in order to sell their product. They dictate to us what is trendy, cool and beautiful and tell us that we're not good enough unless we look like the women in their ads or purchase their products. Let's get one thing straight, they just want our money. They will do/say anything to make a buck. That's their ultimate goal, and it's at women's expense. Not cool. Purse companies also employ these same tactics in their advertisements. Here are a few examples:

The problem with this add is the purse is used to cover up her "hoo-hah" referencing sex. She also appears to be sitting on the double lines of a road which seem to be going right towards/in?/through? her "hoo-hah". So, using sex to sell. Oddly enough, you'd think these type of ads were aimed at men or lesbians since its referencing sex with a woman. But no, their target audience is women so the only obvious goal here is to teach women what is sexy and how they should behave. Something else that we need to open our eyes to is the size of this model. She is super thin sending the message that thin is sexy. If this were one of many body types used in advertising then I wouldn't draw that conclusion. However, this is the body type that is used most often in advertising. Girls and women are internalizing these messages about what is sexy and beautiful. 

Another example of women's sexuality being used to sell products.  It's a purse! A purse has nothing to do with sex (or maybe I'm just vanilla) except for maybe that's where you keep your birth control.

Another common theme in (most) advertising is negative body image messages.

(BTW, I had to spend a LOT of time searching for an ad for purses using a woman of color. This is why I only have one shown here. That's messed up...not that we want them to be objectified like this too, but why aren't they present in ads? If you find more ads with women of color, please send them to me at . I can really use them for my WMST class and future posts. Thanks!)

These two ads again uses an extremely thin model to sell the purses. When all we see are these very thin bodies, girls and women get the dangerous message that they should strive to look like this. Only about 5% of U.S. women have a body type capable of looking like this (and even then many models are still Photoshopped into "perfection"). Think it's a fluke? Just check out the the high rates of eating disorders in the U.S. (ex: Up to 24 million people of all ages and genders suffer from an eating disorder (anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder) in the U.S.  And it's not just anorexia and bulimia, many women have some sort of body dysmorphic disorder. No wonder, when this is the body type we always see glorified as beautiful.  By the way, here are 20 ways to love your body.

So, whether you go purse-less (for an hour, day, week, forever) to help your back, feel a new kind of freedom, or to boycott sexist advertising, I urge you to try it. I'd love to hear your experiences in the comment section below!

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