The present study critically analyzes the phenomenon of women objectification in television advertisements in Pakistan. We draw on two different but related theoretical traditions which are highly relevant to the understanding of women objectification in contemporary TV advertisements in Pakistan.
First, we give particular consideration to Fredrick-son & Roberts objectification theory. Fredrick-son & Roberts (1997) objectification theory provides an important framework for understanding, deconstructing and interpreting television commercials in the socio-cultural context of Pakistan . Drawings on Fredrick-son and Roberts (1997( objectification theory , we attempt to highlight the current trend in Pakistani television advertisement that sexually objectifies the female body and equates a woman’s worth to her body appearance and sexual functions. Objectification theory also postulates that women internalize objectifying messages and that themselves as an object to be looked at and evaluated on the basis of apparent attributes (rather than competence based attributes). Females watch their appearance and experience their bodies according to how they look.
Objectification theory further asserts that objectification in general and self-objectification in particular can increase women’s opportunities for body shame which, in turn, can lead to disordered eating, depression, and sexual dysfunction. As mentioned earlier and reiterated here that we also gave particular consideration to critical race theory as used by critical race feminists. Critical race feminism originates from critical legal, theory, feminist legal theory and critical race theory. Critical race feminism supports anti-essentialist standards of identity, voice and beauty by emphasizing multiple voices, identities, and beauty standards. Although we do not use critical race theory as it has been used extensively for gender and race analysis, but we take it’s basic argument and assert that critical race feminist theory, if used in media context, can be a potential theoretical framework to dismantle the essential standard of ‘white complexion’ as the sole standards of feminine beauty and acceptance. it also used female images as labels and strategy of marketing. On the one hand, Pakistani women are targeted as potential customers of beautification products, especially whiting cream and lotions, and, on the other hand, they have been pushed into an ‘iron cage of beautification’ set along with western standards. Thus, the highly beautified and sexualized depiction of women in television advertisements reinforces the dominant ideology that women are to be admired for their physical appearance rather than their intellect and agency.
This means that television advertisements create an illusion that a womens/girls success is based solely upon her physical attraction, her body language and dressing. Drawing on objectification theory, throughout our analysis, we consider television text as powerful discourse that offers a framework of meaning telling girls/women and boys/men to take up positions naturalized by socially constructed sexist culture.