As mentioned in Jean Kilbourne’s documentary, Killing us Softly 4, there has been increasing tend in the portrayal of violence towards women in many fashion advertisements. This trend is demonstrated in an advertisement for the Spring/Summer ’09 collection for a clothing label by the name of Relish.
In this ad two models of light complexion, one blonde and one brunette, are seen being arrested by police officers, who are commonly seen in society as strong figures of authority. Both models are tall and thin with flawless complexions. Both models are each also being forcefully grabbed by a police officer, with seemingly painful, yet fashionable, expressions of pain on their faces. The dominance over women in this ad doesn’t stop there. The models also are being sexually assaulted. The brunette model is seen bent over a car with the police officers had up her skirt. As Kilbourne pointed out in her work, this abuse is a form of objectification and dehumanization of women. The ad also states, “relish it,” as if the females are supposed to enjoy what is happening.
Another point to be seen here that hasn’t yet been fully discussed in class is the fact that the officers committing these acts of assault are of dark complexion. Most ads, if featuring male models, usually opt to use white males, but in this terrible portrayal of violence and sexual assault I found it to make a very poignant statement that the male models being used were of darker complexion performing these actions to light complexioned females so as not to make a demon out of the white male, but to highlight the assumption that those of dark complexion are oversexed savages always lusting after the white female.
Killing Us Softly 4. Dir. Jean Killborne. Cambridge Documentary Films, 2010. DVD.