Culture is a complex term and has many different meanings. To some, it relates to upper class people; like theatre, opera and galleries, however to others, it means to have travelled and seen the world. The idea of culture changed dramatically from someone tending crops and farming to the idea of the human mind at its best work. There are many different cultural forms which have changed over the past centuries, for example, a few that I am going to discuss in this essay are femininity, sexuality and race. These cultural forms are just a few that affect women and society now and years ago. I am going to discuss these with the help of two images; The Dove ‘Real Beauty’ campaign and ‘Susanna at her bath’ by Francesco Hayez (1850). I am also going to be using the readings that I have been researching to support the arguments that I discuss throughout. The readings that I am going to use are Sturken and Cartwright (2009), Lull J (1995) and Rose (2001).
Berger argues that, “Women turn themselves into objects of vision”. To be naked is desirable to men and was often used privately by men. Even to women, for a woman to look beautiful and to be told that they are beautiful makes them want to look the same. The reason that these women are naked is to draw attention to the advertisement. If this was done years ago, this would have been looked down on. It was more desirable for a woman to be shown with expensive clothing and jewellery to show that they are wealthy.
There was major uproar about the reliability of this contemporary image, about the fact that the images were not in fact ‘natural’ they were manipulated and photo shopped. Berger states, “We can no longer always count on the truthfulness of photographs” (Berger 2009:179). Nowadays, it is incredibly easy to change a picture on a computer. Although the message put out by this advertisement is natural beauty, in fact, it isn’t very natural at all. The image given is something of a selling point as like every business, they have to attract the public, and they have to be a money maker. Because the company tells the public that these women are beautiful, they then feel a desire to shop there and then therefore, look the same.
The contemporary image used is from an advertising campaign for ‘Dove’. This image shows the denotation of naked women but the connotation of the naked bodies of six women of all different shapes and skin colours. Compared the much needed modern years, this is a dramatic change as women used to be enhanced as white to show ‘beauty’. They were shown with no blemishes and an enhanced white colour of their skin to show ‘a perfect woman’ as the men may have seen it at this time.
“A single image can serve a multitude of purposes, appear in a range of settings and mean different things to different people” (Sturken and Cartwright 2009:9). In different cultures, a naked image of a woman can be offensive or inspiring. For example, some religions feel that a woman’s body should not be exposed to the public. To some, especially men, a naked image can have a sexual meaning to it. However, to others, this refers to major vulnerability, as if the woman has no protection and being naked is out of the ordinary as to many, it is a very private matter but to many women, a naked woman can be something of an inspiration as this shows natural beauty and a strong minded woman who is very proud.
These pictures of naked women had a larger audience of men centuries ago in the 1800’s. However, in this Dove advertisement, the image has a larger audience of women to show comfort in their own skin, wanting women to be proud in their bodies.
Rose uses an argument, “Compositionality contributes towards its way of seeing” (Mary anne doane 1982) (Rose 2001:24). Susanna is placed behind a wall in the painting, as if to be hidden, as if she is ashamed of her nudity. She looks behind her as she knows that she is not alone and is being watched by two elder