Sexualisation and objectification of women in advertising


When a person’s value comes only from their sexual appeal or behaviour to the exclusion of other characteristics, and when a person is sexually objectified.


When a person’s body or body parts are separated from them as a person so that they are reduced to the status of an object, devoid of thought or feeling.

The way advertising portrays women and girls has become more and more sexualised over time.

Some brands argue that the imagery is empowering, but they’re wrong. It’s dangerous.

Sexualisation and objectification cause society to view women as less capable and less intelligent, and it makes men more tolerant of sexual harassment and violence.

Sexualised imagery is dangerous

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We need to see more women in advertising
– but not like this


Women are more likely than men to be shown wearing revealing clothes or simulating sex acts, being dominated or portrayed as objects or animals.

Women’s bodies are digitally altered to remove blemishes, lengthen legs, reduce waist and hips, and increase bust size.

This encourages people to view women as objects, while also creating unrealistic ideas of female attractiveness and increasing body dissatisfaction.

Honey Birdette

In 2017, Australian lingerie brand Honey Birdette released a campaign called ‘Office Party Time’ where women were shown wearing lingerie while surrounded by fully clothed men. The images suggest that the women are the product available for purchase (rather than the lingerie) and that a woman’s role in the workplace is to serve and arouse.

Ad Standards received multiple community complaints that these ads sexualised and objectified women.

Honey Birdette has a history of using sexualised images and arguing that it empowers women.

But regardless of the brand’s intentions, sexualisation and objectification are proven to have damaging impacts on women’s body image.

Find out more about the health impacts of gender inequality in advertising.

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Contrary to popular belief,
sex doesn’t sell.

People remember ads that use sexual appeals, but they don’t tend to remember the product or brand the ad was trying to sell.

Plus studies show that women don’t like ads that sexualise women.
And when you consider that 70% of all brand purchasing decisions are made by women, it’s easy to see that sexualisation and objectification is bad for business.

On the other hand, gender equality is proven to boost the bottom line. And it improves the workplace, too.

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Goodbye exploitation, hello equality

Respectful and multidimensional portrayals of women and girls can help bring an end to violence against women.

Find out how you can drive change in your industry.

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