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Scantily Clad

By Ariella Herman

Section: Arts

March 14, 2008

diverse-city-3-14-08_page_2_image_0002.jpgRecently New York magazine published photographs of actress Lindsay Lohan which raised controversies in regards to the use of “sex appeal” in advertising. The series of Lindsay Lohan photos taken for the publicly sold magazine lead to the biggest selling issue of the past four years. The popularity of this particular magazine issue suggests that the photographs of Lohan are socially acceptable, which is most certainly problematic.

The photographs, taken by famous photographer Bert Stern, are a series of shots in which Lohan poses in the nude on a bed with white linen.Interestingly, the photos of Lindsay Lohan revisit the classic shots of the famous actress Marilyn Monroe, taken by the same photographer forty six years earlier.

The famous series of shots of Marilyn Monroe, taken by Stern in 1962, portray the way in which Monroe’s talents as a comedic actress are overshadowed by her sex appeal. Similarly, the sexual photographs of Lindsay Lohan completely eliminate society’s image of Lohan as being an innocent child actress.

Lindsay Lohan viewed the photo shoot as an opportunity to inhabit the role of an “idol.”I wanted to portray the book and get it point-on as much as I could, to bring it back to life,” she said.

Although Lohan appears to idolize Marilyn Monroe for her true theatrical talents, her decision to relive the role of Monroe as a sex symbol seems to suggest the alternative. The fact that Lohan agreed to be photographed in the nude illustrates her desire to be looked upon as a sex symbol.

New York magazine is most definitely not the first to publish provocative photographs of famous actresses or models; however the photos of Lohan available for public enjoyment suggest that societal standards have degraded to a low level.

The vast majority of advertisers in the fashion industry use “sex appeal” as a means of attracting consumers. For example, Victoria’s Secret, a widely known women’s lingerie store, advertises its merchandise in a provocative fashion. The large advertisements cast on billboards and in store windows are typically of a woman dressed in a bra and underwear and posed in very sexual manner. Studies illustrate that advertisers evoke the idea in consumers that by purchasing the Victoria’s Secret merchandise they too can look like the “woman on the billboard.”

Such advertisements suggest that this is the societal norm; however many disagree. Although “sex appeal” has become the central basis for consumerism, many people are beginning to realize the need for a more modest fashion of dress. Advertisements of women dressed in provocative clothing do not evoke as much attention to the problem; however, the photo shoot of Lindsay Lohan most certainly does. The photos clearly define why the blatant use of sex appeal is a problem.

Advertisers have caused consumers to believe that the ideal way of appearing attractive is through mimicking the nearly unclothed models that appear in advertisements. This does not have to be the case.

During the 1960s ads found in fashion magazines, or in newspapers typically did make use of “sex appeal” to attract consumers. The models were generally dressed in more modern clothing which did not expose as much of the body, and as a result society mimicked a more conservative way of dress. Although the clothing people wore was less revealing, there was still a sense of overall attractiveness.

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