Search results for high heels

Shirley Ann M. sent in this picture of a car advertising Skill Maids:

She says,

I was blown away by the blatant sexual stereotyping in this picture: the maid in high heels, bent over with knees together, Jessica Rabbit figure.

Well, Shirley, what you don’t understand, and what I can tell you because my mom cleaned houses for a living when I was a kid, is that there is no more better outfit to wear for efficiently cleaning a large house than a dress and heels. See, the heels make you taller, so it’s easier to dust the top shelves!

Thanks, Shirley!

This is an ad (found here) for House of Dereon’s collection for girls. House of Dereon is the fashion label created by Beyonce Knowles and her mother.


The girl standing on the right is wearing high heels which seem to actually be her size. They are not, thankfully, for sale on the website. This might be interesting to add to a discussion of the adultification of girls or the Miley Cyrus scandal.

Thanks to Elizabeth for pointing this one out!

This post is dedicated to my pregnant friends. You should buy this t-shirt.

In class this week my students and I are talking about the triple threat of production, consumption, and reproduction that characterizes modern capitalism. I use the cultural imperative that women have and raise babies (reproduction) and be beautiful and sexy while doing it (consumption), all of which is paid for by someone who is busy earning money at a job (production). Below are some of the images I use.

Be beautiful while pregnant (images from A Pea in the Pod and covergirls Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera):

Running in high heels while in the third trimester? Why, of course!

Get your body back as soon as possible (as demonstrated by Gwen Stefani and Tori Spelling):

If you’re not sure how, buy some books (all the better)!

Resort to suspicious drugs if you need to:

Or get a Mommy Makeover. Extensive cosmetic surgery, that is:

Recommended by Parenting Magazine!

Today Gwen and I went to the by now well-known Bodies exhibit that displays preserved human cadavers, purportedly so we can learn more about the human body (and give up smoking).

As we went in we joked about how there probably wouldn’t be any female bodies until the part on reproduction. We were royally pissed off to discover that we were right. This is a great illustration of the way in which men are neutral and women deviants from the standard (that is, men are people and women are women). The first 8 or so bodies were all male and all in action doing masculine things.

The first female body we encountered (there were only two out of more than a dozen) stood immediately outside the fetal development hall and alongside the dissections of the genitals and reproductive organs.* Not only was this the first female, she was arranged not in action, but in a pose for the male gaze. She was standing with her hands on her hips, with her breasts and hips thrust forward, and on her tip toes as if she were wearing high heels. We couldn’t find any pictures of her on the web (and we weren’t allowed to take any), but we did find an image of a female cadaver from another exhibit. She was both pregnant (fulfilling her biological destiny) and positioned like a pin up (fulfilling her role as sexual object for men). So, in addition to marginalizing the female body, they gendered both male and female bodies. Male bodies are on the move, but female bodies are good for only two things: babies and sexual provocation.

The last body (male) had a sign over it that said “Your Body” because, of course, the male body is just the neutral human body that represents us all.

* As we entered the fetal development hall there was a sign that warned people that they should take a second and think about whether they wanted to see the fetuses, while assuring us that all of them died of natural causes (that is, not abortion). I think it’s bizarre that we’re supposed to find these fetal bodies disturbing, but not the bodies of people who lived lives and loved others and were loved and all that good stuff. There is something weird about the priorities here, as if the fetuses were somehow more human than the adults. Also, while we were looking at the deformed fetuses, a woman standing next to us said that all teenagers should have to see the deformed fetuses because “that’s what gonna happen” if they start having sex.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Flashback Friday.

Sociologists are lucky to have amongst them a colleague who is doing excellent work on the modeling industry and, in doing so, offering us all a rare sophisticated glimpse into its economic and cultural logics. We’ve featured Ashley Mears‘ work twice in posts discussing the commodification of models’ bodies and the different logics of high end and commercial fashion.

In a post at Jezebel, Mears exposes the Model Search. Purportedly an opportunity for model hopefuls to be discovered, Mears argues that it functions primarily as a networking opportunity for agents, who booze and schmooze it up with each other, while being alternatively bored and disgusted by the girls and women who pay to be there.

“Over a few days,” Mears explains:

…thousands arrived to impress representatives from over 100 international modeling and talent agencies. In the modeling showcase alone, over 500 people ages 13-25 strutted down an elevated runway constructed in the hotel’s ballroom, alongside which rows of agents sat and watched.

2013 International Model and Talent Search; photo by AJ Batac.

But the agents are not particularly interested in scouting.  In shadowing them during the event, Mears finds that they “actually find it all rather boring and tasteless.”  Pathetic, too.

Mears explains:

The saddest thing at a model search contest is not the sight of girls performing womanhood defined as display object. Nor is it their exceedingly slim chances to ever be the real deal. What’s really sad is the state of the agents: they sit with arms folded, yawning regularly, checking their BlackBerrys. After a solid two hours, Allie has seen over 300 contestants. She’s recorded just eight numbers for callbacks.

Meanwhile, agents ridicule the wannabe runway, from the “hooker heels” to the outfit choices. About their physiques, [one agent recounts,] “I’ve never seen so many out of shape bodies.”

While model hopefuls are trading sometimes thousands of dollars for a 30-second walk down the runway, the agents are biding their time until they can head to the hotel bar to “…gossip, network, and commence the delicate work of negotiating the global trade in models…” One agent explains:

To be honest it’s just a networking event. The girls, most of them don’t even have the right measurements. For most of them, today is going to be a wake-up call.

Indeed, networking is the real point of the event.  The girls and women who come with dreams of being a model are largely, and unwittingly, emptying their pockets to subsidize the schmooze.

To add insult to injury, what many of the aspiring models don’t know is that, for “…$5,000 cheaper, any hopeful can walk into an agency’s ‘Open Call’ for an evaluation.”

I encourage you to read Mears’ much longer exposé at Jezebel.

Originally posted in 2010.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Flashback Friday.

I just have to say “wow” to this ad for Quartz counter tops, sent it by Lisa Ray of Parents for Ethical Marketing and Corporate Babysitter:

The ad depicts a little girl fantasizing about growing up, but growing up means (extremely) high patent leather pumps; growing up means sexualizing herself.

And the ad does sexualize the little girl who, from the top-scanning-down, looks like a sweet girl trying on mommy’s shoes, but from the bottom-scanning-up, looks like an adult woman who suddenly transforms into a child. The white cotton dress implies innocence and purity, but it’s a costume we regularly see adult women wear when we want to both sexualize and infantilize them. In other words, this ad nicely plays into the mythology endorsed by pedophiles that even little girls want to feel sexy, even little girls want men’s attention, even little girls want sex.

And, yet, we are supposed to think this is sweet. The text, “Harmonizing Beautifully with Life” is, of course, ostensibly about the counter tops. But aligned with the image, it naturalizes both the girl’s fantasy and the conflation of female sex with the performance of sexualized femininity (it’s just “life”; as if there’s a gene for Christian Louboutin shoes that activates in the presence of double X chromosomes). More than simply naturalizing the girl’s fantasy of self-objectification, it endorses it (it’s beautiful harmony).

Notice also the class story in the ad. Who exactly is class privileged enough to have the freedom to allow “the quiet moments” to “steal the show”? Well, apparently people who are rich enough to wear Louboutin shoes. Louboutin began putting red soles on all his shoes as a not-so-subtle way to advertise that the shoe was Louboutin and, therefore, a very expensive shoe. It worked.  Fashion writers started pointing out the red soles with glee, as in this story about Angeline Jolie on a red carpet. The fact that the sole of this shoe is red is no accident, it’s meant to add class to the counter tops, in both senses of the word.

A final word on race: That the girl in the ad is white is no accident. And it’s not only because marketers expect the majority of their customers to be white, but because of what whiteness represents. Her white skin symbolizes the same thing that the white counter tops and white dress symbolize: purity, cleanliness, even innocence. It is only because all those symbolic elements are there that we can put a black patent leather heel with a red sole on her and still think “sweet.”  Imagine the same ad with a black child. In the U.S., black women are often stereotyped as sexually loose, morally corrupt, irresponsible teen mothers on welfare. With that symbolic baggage, this ad would be a morality lesson on the hypersexuality of black girls and their propensity to “grow up too fast.” It wouldn’t look sweet, it’d look dangerous.

“Harmonizing beautifully,” indeed.

Originally posted in 2010.

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Hoooo-ray! This (newly described by science) spider has 8 legs and it’s doing cartwheels to celebrate SocImages’ 8th birthday!


This is our 5,530th post and still going strong. Thanks to all of you who discovered SocImages this year and those of you who’ve been hanging on since the beginning!

Here are some highlights from the last year. Quite a trip down memory lane!

  • Sociological Images was awarded this year’s American Sociological Association’s Distinguished Contributions to Teaching Award. We would love to think that the blog eases class prep a little and helps people get the best out of their students. If that’s what this award means, we’re over the moon.
  • I was honored to be invited to talk about SocImages in a plenary speech at the Midwest Sociological Society. Of course, there were lots of pictures. You’re welcome to view the slideshow here.
  • Rush Limbaugh covered a post about the relationship between studying economics and being antisocial and it sheds a scary light into the inner workings of his mind. (And I got called a “professorette” so… like I said, all high kicks all the time.)
  • We got tumbld by Wil Wheaton!
  • Two new Pinterest pages: pinkwashing and sexy what!?, a collection of totally random stuff being advertised as weirdly and unnecessarily sexual.
  • Our social media accounts continue to grow like weeds: thanks to the 74,000 of you on facebook,  23,000 on tumblr, 22,000 on twitter, and 14,000 on pinterest.  We do have fun and learn stuff, too!

Here’s to another year! (Sorry about the spider.)

Lisa Wade, PhD is a professor at Occidental College. She is the author of American Hookup, a book about college sexual culture, and a textbook about gender. You can follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Sure to be a classic!

The tale begins with a baby calf named Rudolph born to what is assumed to be a typical reindeer family.  Immediately we recognize that this is no typical Hollywood tale. As we all know, male reindeer lose their antlers in late fall, but female retain throughout the Christmas season. By making Rudolph, Donner (the head of the family), and all of Santa’s reindeer female, the film makes a strong departure from the androcentric status quo.


The new baby girl fills the house with joy until the parents discovered the calf to be quite queer—Rudolph had a red nose that glowed. Initially ashamed, Donner drew on a very functional and literal cover-up of mud and clay to hide the nose. It is believed this was for the good of the calf as this story was set in a pretty cruel place—a place where even Santa was unkind and unaccepting of differences.

Spring training comes along with masculinity classes for Rudolph. This was a highlight of the story for me. It was nice to see time was taken to demonstrate that gender is socially constructed and masculinity is learned. Girls can do anything that boys can do and our young protagonist was exceptional, even best in the class.

However, the mud and clay would be an impermanent fix. Rudolph’s glowing nose was revealed during play and the names and bullying began. In fact the bullying was even legitimated by the coach. With such an unaccepting family and community, Rudolph runs away.


Meanwhile, in (one of) Santa’s workshops, an elf named Hermey was having a Jerry McGuire day. Hermey, perhaps the most relatable character to mainstream American society, was questioning the system. Hermey wanted to do what made him happy. He wanted to be a dentist. Working in an assembly line factory with long hours and no dental was not living the dream. Hermey decides he is a Dentist and also sets out alone.

Unsurprisingly, Rudolph and Hermey run into each other on the path out of town, also called loneliness. After a day in the polar wilderness they meet another queer named Yukon Cornelius who is always in search of gold or silver.

The three misfits then encounter the abominable snow monster. “Mean and nasty,” he “hates everything about Christmas.” Clearly, his teeth and wide reaching claws are designed to compel compliance with the social order.  White, male, and against magic for the masses, this character is clearly intended to represent the kyriarchy, the system meant to uphold the intersecting oppressions of class, race, and gender. The movie’s central challenge is set: smash the kyriarchy.


The group initially retreats, only to find themselves on The Island of Misfit Toys where they are greeted by a flamboyant Charlie-in-the-box. It is here Hermey and Rudolph begin to dream of having an accepting place and we see the strong desire for a community. Surely, if dolls with low esteem, pink fire trucks, and trains with square wheels can be free of oppression, they can too.

Emboldened, the trio now returns to kill the kyriarchy. Using the never fail logic that bacon trumps all meats, Hermey makes like a pig to get the abominable snow monster’s attention. Once the snow monster steps out of the cave, Yukon knocks him out by dropping a boulder on his head; Hermey pulls out all his teeth in a symbolic and literal de-fanging.


Yukon pushes the monster off a cliff, but he falls, too. This is the most symbolic part of the tale, as the group has bonded together to kill the kyriarchy but not without some loss. The message is clear: if we build alliances, we can take down the power elite, but there will be sacrifices.

I will not ruin the end of the tale for you, only to say that Rudolph does in fact save Christmas, but it is by demonstrating value to the man—Santa. Once Santa sees Rudolph and his misfit friends as an asset he de-identifies at least slightly with the kyriarchy. For now, Christmas town was a cheerful place. A small battle had been worn.

Overall, Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer gets two thumbs up!

It is sure to become a classic tale of systems of oppression and privilege, stigma, and the struggle for self-acceptance. In Rudolph, difference can be good. It was quite progressive with its message advocating inclusivity, alliance, and dissent against systems of power. I love the commentary on the lack of queer community organizing and the role of misfits in fighting capitalism and the power elite. It took on some hot button issues in nuanced ways, especially the policing various classes of citizens and the importance of open carry laws.

It also took some big risks related to casting. It was gender progressive and, outside of the binary, we have at least two characters that blur sex categories. Clarice, for example, presents as feminine and female pronouns are employed with her, yet she has no antlers in late winter. While Hermey dresses like the male elves, but he has swooping blonde hair and a small nose like the female elves.

For years to come, Rudolph will no doubt be a wonderful conversation starter for both awkward and fun winter gatherings alike.

D’Lane R. Compton, PhD is a lover of all things antler, feather, and fur. An associate professor of sociology at the University of New Orleans with a background in social psychology, methodology, and a little bit of demography, she is usually thinking about food, country roads, stigma, queer nooks and places, sneakers and hipster subcultures. You can follow her on twitter.