Headless women show up everywhere: magazine covers, film posters. How can we make media represent women better?

Representation matters. From Twitter hashtags, to buzzworthy articles and campaigns: it seems that the world has woken up to the importance of media portrayals in the past few years. As a minority, seeing yourself represented in media can be fundamental to imagine new ways of being and figure out opportunities. At the same time, representation can be the gateway to understanding other perspectives and ways of life. Despite our best efforts to shake up media, a lot of work still needs to be done, and it can only be achieved by sparking up about controversial yet necessary conversations. So without further ado, here are some of the ‘delightful’ ways the entertainment industry is still failing women.

Newsflash: women are still objects
In the age of #MeToo and social media feminism, it seems that not much has changed in the way media portrays women. Despite our cries for empowerment, the Oscar dresscodes and the marches, the entertainment industry seems not to have taken into consideration our need to become more than an attractive sidenote to heroic storylines or something to look at/lust after. Gosh, isn’t that enough? It’s a compliment. What more could they possibly want – fully fleshed out characters and portraits that do not just focus on physical attributes? Please.

Are we really that boring or uninteresting otherwise?

The GQ covers

Just a few weeks ago, Twitter user Barbie Xanax – of MySpace fame, she was the Italian scene queen back when we all used to listen to Panic At the Disco – tweeted an interesting picture. Titled with the plain hashtag #DoubleStandards, the tweet shows side to side GQ covers featuring male and female celebrities, leaving to the viewer the task of understanding what might possibly be different.

Why is it that male celebrities can be portrayed fully clothed, professional and dapper, while women can only be the center of attention when wearing little to no clothes? Are we really that boring or uninteresting otherwise? Now, it is not about the nudity or clothes style per se. If that is the way one feels comfortable to be portrayed, then that should not be an issue – but why only women? Why is that the only way they could possibly be featured on a cover story? Something to think about.

Even the dog gets to have a face, but we sure could not dream of such a luxury!

The headless woman project
Standup comedian Marcia Belsky started the Headless Woman Project as a way to “bring attention to the still standard practice of fragmenting, objectifying and dehumanizing the images of women we see in film, television, and advertisement”. It is a collection of movie posters featuring women – minus their heads. Legs, breasts, midriffs, you name it. While it might seem purely ironic, the project has collected thousands of posters, highlighting a depressingly common trend in the entertainment industry – and one that you can notice everywhere.

For example, have a look at those delightful posters from the movie Kingsman! Even the dog gets to a have a face, but we sure could not dream of such a luxury! Despite the ironic undertones of Belsky’s blog, her project points out a critical issue in media and entertainment, where women are understood as objects to be looked at without the opportunity to gaze back at the reader, or be acknowledged in their individuality.

With such a bleak media landscape, it is hard to imagine a future where we can be taken seriously and acknowledged and celebrated for our individuality. We deserve better and must ask for better representation. So, how do we begin?

Cover: Eddie Garcia

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