Fashion and The Body

The Tom Ford/ Terry Richardson ad is one that caused a lot of backlash due to its provocative nature.  Many people were outraged at the sexual imagery of the ad, as it depicted naked, faceless women posing with the perfume bottles.  The ad clearly played on the erotic references of the female body, and used the body as a tool to attract viewers. There is an old adage that claims that ‘sex sells’ and I do find it true that shock value brings in more viewers.  The use of the female body as a sexual being within fashion is fascinating, as it has been a common theme throughout history. It also very much relates to Lambert’s take on what a body really is, and how our perception of it may be formulated, rather than factual. I remember hearing a quote once that claimed, ‘the naked body is eroticized by clothing’, thus stating that the body on its own is not inherently sexual.  To me this tied to what Lambert said about our interpretation of the body; “We don’t know what a body is” implicitly suggests that a holistic knowledge of what a body is actually exists—we just don’t presume to know it (yet).”  This ad, and many others prove that the way we see others is highly dependent on the environment within which they exist in, thus meaning that there is no true definition for what the human body means or represents, but rather it is a vehicle for artistic manipulation.  On this note, one thing that I think is important to consider is whether or not the intention behind such imagery has a positive or negative effect on the people who see it. In the case of the Tom Ford ad, people were extremely mad, but the brand gained a lot of press, and started an interesting conversation about the naked body, particularly the female body in fashion.  It is also interesting and relevant to note that this ad campaign was led by a male. For a long time in fashion and in general, women’s bodies have been objectified by men for monetary gain. This fact takes away a potentially liberating perspective that celebrates the female figure, and denotes it to yet another perpetuation of the male gaze.

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