have on my (and average men’s) self-esteem. I know that the Old Spice commercials are meant to be funny, and from the couple of interviews I’ve seen actor Isaiah Mustafa seems like a genuinely nice guy. But it’s hard not to compare myself to someone who looks like a marble statue come to life when I sometimes feel like one of those vaguely humanoid, prehistoric statuettes they find in those caves painted with people stabbing buffalo. Still, that’s not what I’m going to write about. At least not tonight.
Instead I’m going to write about this:
This is Brooklyn Decker. I don’t know anything about her beyond the fact that her breasts are featured prominently (in a bikini) in the advertising for the new Adam Sandler movie and that an image search with her name mostly features the likes of what you see above. She’s wearing a bikini, but she’s not about to go swimming. Everything about her posture and expression is about sexual seduction. Maybe Brooklyn Decker is smart and compassionate and funny. Maybe she’s a terrible, bigoted, moron. I don’t know. The point is that pictures like this, and movies like Just Go With It don’t care. Too often the media portrays women as objects whose worth is only measured by how effectively they excite male sexual fantasies.
Emilie has covered what this means for women, but how about what this means for men? I think Emilie is beautiful, but I love her because she is smart, funny, caring, and all the things that are completely irrelevant in the majority of the portrayals of women in the media. Men and boys are being bombarded with the idea that women are aesthetic and sexual objects. We are being sold an empty fantasy.
As these boys grow up to be fathers, as these men become teachers, colleagues, and members of a global society what will this mean? What does it mean already? How many of you reading this (like Emilie) recognized Brooklyn Decker, but couldn’t immediately identify the three women below? We are teaching men that the most important quality in a woman is an unhealthy ideal, and that without the body of a Brooklyn Decker, she has failed. While men may be encouraged to look like Isaiah Mustafa, they – we – have more opportunity to show our worth through our actions. Men need not be beautiful to succeed.
We have to start teaching people – men and women – that a woman’s worth has nothing to do with how she looks, but by who she is. A woman cannot be captured in an empty photograph of a seductive glance. We cannot continue to bombard men with these kinds of images and expect them to embrace, nurture, and accept all the brilliance that women have to offer.