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Injustice and violence against women spring from the widely accepted notion of the woman as a passive object. This notion is evident in the way women and girls are represented in the media - magazines, TV shows, films, and in particular advertisement. Outdoor posters and billboards are displayed in the busiest parts of town and are accessible to anyone. We see them every day and we grow accustomed to them. They shape how ordinary men see women and how ordinary women see themselves. Thanks to the medium of photography, those images have been isolated from the complexity of life and inserted in a book. The reader is given the opportunity – and the time - to see them for what they really are: shocking visual examples of the disparity between what real women look like, and what the model of ideal beauty forces the reader to be. This book accuses Western society of promoting a sexist, voyeuristic, capitalistic and predominantly white model of female beauty. It’s often claimed that women decide to follow this model and it’s their own choice to buy cosmetics or undertake plastic surgery treatments. No one obliges them to be concerned with the way they look: they do it because they want to. However, the existence of a choice is an illusion. Since their birth all girls are encouraged to enhance their femininity, and to ‘look good’. Adverts and media are there to clearly explain how. Women are taught that their physical appearance is pivitol in reaching a higher status. They are offered a model of ideal beauty and are

encouraged to monitor, manipulate and improve their body to perfection. As a consequence, they become more concerned, often obsessed, with the way they look. Society is constantly ready to judge how near or far a particular woman is from the ideal, and rewards or punishes her depending on how committed she is in striving for perfection. Being the model unattainable, women are constantly failing and end up losing self-esteem, as well as indulging in self-harming behaviours. As Kat Banyard explains in ‘Equality Illusion’, the way men see women – and women see themselves - is based ‘on the notion that a woman’s worth could and should be located in her appearance. The foundations of a beauty ideal lie in objectification: women aren’t agents, but passive objects whose body is publicly scrutinised, airbrushed and manipulated.’ The photographs of this book represent, and condemn, this process of objectification. Bruna Martini September 2012

Bruna Martini

Photographer and Video-Maker

Urban Misogyny