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On my drive to work one day, this is what I saw: We are bombarded with hypersexualized images of females, so much so that most of us don’t even notice them.They are all around us like the air we breathe; messages so blatant, they become invisible, encouraging the normalization of female objectification.Perhaps what we all want is a culture where we can feel safe and authentic––where we all prefer to walk, not drive, across the street.Get Shadia Duske, MA, LPC, NCC is a licensed psychotherapist in Denver with a strong interest in feminist issues.As a psychotherapist, I meet hundreds of women who struggle with their body image or sexuality.These struggles show up as depression, anxiety, eating disorders, body dysmorphic disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, reproductive concerns, parenting issues or relationship crises.As a Middle Eastern American, I don’t fit the Eurocentric model of beauty.When I was a young girl, I drew pictures only of blonde, blue-eyed princesses, perhaps in response to my blonde stepsister telling me that my “skin was the color of poop.” No matter how much I tried to dress myself up, I was still not white.
So, I spent the last year documenting pieces of the world around me, gathering evidence of a toxic cultural milieu.
All women are affected, regardless of whether they fit conventional standards of beauty, and whether images depict women as active or passive.
In any case, the body becomes an object that exists for sexual pleasure, leading to self-objectification.
According to an article written in 2015 by journalist Jillian Berman, “Sales at the Tilted Kilt, Twin Peaks and Brick House…have grown at a double-digit pace over the last year.” Younger people are also increasingly exposed to sexual imagery. I came across these ads in various women’s magazines and in , in several medical office waiting rooms, including a pediatrician’s office: According to social learning theory, audiences are more likely to be persuaded to buy a product if the advertising narrative is easily recognizable and frequently repeated.
But if these ads represent what is easily recognizable and “normal,” what does that say about the health of our society? Everyone suffers from this constant emphasis on appearance as it encourages people to separate the body from the individual as a person.