These Spanish children react to the blatant sexism in high-fashion ad campaigns. Photo: Yolanda Domínguez
A group of 8-year-olds are asked to describe what they see in fashion ads, and their responses are telling. Women look passed out, scared, hungry, poor, drug-addled and in urgent need of a paramedic, while men appear like university-educated superhero bosses.
Madrid-based artist Yolanda Domínguez turns the spotlight on the sexist imagery that pervades fashion advertising in her video project, "Niños vs. Moda" (Children vs. Fashion).
She calls upon primary schoolers – probably the most honest focus group one can get – to deliver some frank and uncensored commentary on ads by Dolce & Gabbana, Miu Miu, Hugo Boss, Dior and Pepe Jeans.
The women appear weak and vulnerable, like victims, leaving the children to speculate:
"Maybe she is drunk."
"She seems to have an illness. Because her arm is, like, here. And her shoulder is, like ... here."
"I'd tell her to cheer up and not be sad."
"There's a girl taking a shit."
"If I was in that situation myself and I was passing by, I'd try to help her and take her to the doctor."
When shown advertisements featuring male models, however, their comments are entirely different. The men look put together and in control, like FBI agents or spies.
As one boy puts it, "They're studying to go to university."
As funny as their reactions may be, the subtext behind their opinions reveals a startling truth about the unequal treatment of men and women.
"This revealing document poses many questions about hidden messages that are launched by the fashion industry. Why do we link these kinds of images with glamour and luxury? Why doesn't anybody denounce this situation? How do these images influence our visual education?" asks Domínguez.
Sure, kids this young aren't usually flipping through the pages of Vogue, stumbling upon images of women sprawled on the road as if they've been shot in a drive-by, but in just a few years, these girls are likely to become consumers of fashion mags. These images are shown to influence how young women perceive their bodies, so what's to stop them absorbing the distorted gender roles that are fed alongside?
Of course, this lot should not be underestimated.