In 2007, Terry Richardson shot these advertisements for Tom Ford’s brand of men’s cologne. They are a few years old, but exemplify perfectly the objectification of women in media.
We could easily list the ways these model is sexualized and objectified. She is naked. Her hands and the cologne are the only things covering up her breasts and genitals. She suggestively caresses her wet body, or the small portion of it we see. It’s like the photographer is saying that the only parts of a woman that matter are her breasts and vagina, and the way to get to these parts is through this cologne. These fragmented bodies contribute to the notion of women as objects because not once do we see a full human. They also portray women in a constant hyper-sexualized state, which is not true.
Nudity and nudity in the media are not necessarily wrong. But let’s look at who is creating these images and who they are for. First, these photographs were taken by Terry Richardson, who has been accused multiple times of sexually assaulting his models. As usual, a powerful straight man is creating the image of a naked woman; she is not free but is the subject of a man’s gaze.
Now for the audience: in bold letters, the copy reads TOM FORD FOR MEN. Yes, the product is for men, but what I end up reading when I see this is that this woman is here for the pleasure of the straight male audience. In all, these ads are shocking but completely unoriginal in the way they objectify the female body.
All this, just for men’s cologne.