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Fashion and the Female Form- Are women exploited or empowered by fashion?

February 19, 2018

The female form is controversially presented in the fashion industry; are women unfairly subjected and exploited by fashion? Conversely, some argue that fashion empowers the female form; and furthers that women no longer live in an outdated society whose appearance is restricted to what they can and cannot wear. With the diverse creativity, freedom and contemporary disposals of past limitations in fashion, many respect the credence that this industry is bringing liberation and empowerment towards building the modern woman of today. Nevertheless, there are still implications that women are subjected by this industry, especially through the predominating forms of fashion advertisement campaigns. However is it the fashion industry’s fault for the cause of exploitation within women; or subsequently, are women responsible for their own demise and cause of their sexualisation and objectification?



Figure 1: BECCI Fashion Campaign Photoshoot, Photography by Michael Morgan, Assistant Emily Grace Morgan, Model Amy Rose Mae, MUA Emily Thompson. This photo was presented controversially as the model is styled braless. Is this embodying female empowerment, or is it exploitative of her female form?


An unruliness is apparent, as the fashion industry’s exhausting pressures of utilising the female embodiment for emolument, instigates the destructive endorsement of sexualisation and objectification through the female form. Sexualisation of women in the fashion industry is undeniably ubiquitous, and this detrimental convention is being bequeathed further; burdening future generations with these unalterable societal expectations of women. The depiction of women placed upon society by fashion, transpires our own children into catalysts for the industry’s destructive power for wealth; utilising the affiliation of women. The importance of appearance can cause detrimental damage; especially to future generations and young women, who are transitioning into womanhood; as they sense that they are visible in society as sex objects, rather than becoming women visible of much greater importance and positive contribution, (Sherinah, 2018, p.3). This consistent sexualised exposure of women manifestly has taught society that it is morally acceptable to perceive them in this degrading routine; thus encompassing the ideology that due to this consistency, their exploitation has becomes less offensive and more customary, (Dahlberg, Zimmerman, 2008, p.75). Women are coincided to an ‘unconsciousness’, where they themselves are unaware of the extent of their exploitation, and the part they have play in its expansion.  


Fashion encourages a false pretence that is coerced upon women- a perpetual yearning of an unrealistic aspiration of the feminine form, (Sherinah, 2018, p.2). In consequence, this indubitably transmits the furthering gender gap, (Sherinah, 2018, p.2), and how women are used palpably as a derogatory embellishment for the means of men. Yet this ‘unconsciousness’ reaps women; causing them to play victim to their own downfall. This industry exploits women, and simply turns round to iniquitously sell this exploitation back to them, (Garelick, 2017, p.1).  This apparent unconsciousness has been bigotedly espoused within women to the degree that they no longer able to realise this profound exploitation and their involvement, due to its engulfing and formidable acceptance in our society.


Figure 2: BECCI Fashion Campaign Photoshoot, Photography by Michael Morgan, Assistant Emily Grace Morgan, Model Amy Rose Mae, MUA Emily Thompson.

Are we even aware of how the fashion industry is sexualising women? Have women today adopted an unconsciousness where they have become so used to being caught up in this societal ‘norm’ that they are unable to break free from this convention? Figure 2, portrays how an innocent model can evoke careless ways of engraving the irrevocable long term sexualisation of years to continue. As the model poses on the floor, suggesting a submissive, passive role and subservient status, her legs open evocatively, her lips suggesting an elusive and subtle sexual arousal, she is braless, exposing the majority of her body top to bottom, and her heels indicate an item typically stereotyped with what is required to be ‘sexy’ and attractive in regards to being judged on female appearance. Does this represent the hierarchy of women in society today and how women’s reputations and status are viewed upon by others? Contemporary society today expects women to casually accept the sexual objectification of their gender, (Dahlberg, Zimmerman, 2008, p.78).


  This societal ‘norm’ has been engraved so strongly by modernisation, that women are no longer able to emancipate themselves from this convention. Women are no longer free to ask themselves what is suitably permitted to be depicted of them by the fashion industry and in media campaigns. Women are no longer able to ask themselves what is defined as ‘sexy’; instead they are prescribed delimiting manuals from the fashion industry that to be ‘sexy’ is to be submissive, weak, desirable, and passive- and conclusively requires redemption from a masculine figure. Ultimately; a women must destitute their personality and existence from oneself- voiding them from any individuality, and devalue themselves down to only their sexual attractiveness and physical appearance. Women are commanded by the fashion industry to conform to these pressures, in order to aspire into the ‘idealised’ image of the female form. Henceforth these women are silenced and retracted of their own desires, and are used as objects for male consumption and pleasure, (Gill, 2008, p.37). Women’s concern for physical attractiveness, (Dahlberg, Zimmerman, 2008, p.2), only supplements their exploitation by this industry.