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The Many Bodies of Venus



Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus (c.1480s). Picture Credit: Uffizi.


You’ve got to feel for Venus, she’s changed her body type more than Renée Zellweger’s had to for Bridget Jones. We all know that yo-yo dieting is bad for your mental and physical health, and poor Venus has been doing in for millennia.



Paolo Veronese, Venus Disarming Cupid (c.1555). Picture Credit: Worcester Art Gallery.

Looking at artistic depictions of the goddess throughout the ages, we see her body changing to sit with fashions and beauty conventions of the particular period and place. Her hips and breasts are constantly expanding and reverting back to pre-puberty. In Renaissance Europe, her lithe Mediterranean body develops from its foundations in antique sculpture, to match the bulk of her northern European sister.

Peter Paul Rubens, Venus at a Mirror (c.1615). Picture Credit: Wikimedia.

Far from her own woman, Venus is nothing more than an ever-evolving mirror of sexual desire. She is an invention of the male mind, for the male mind. Goddess in bed one would imagine, but poor girl they never gave her much more than that.

‘Reveal the Goddess in You’

For the last decade or so (fronted by Dove’s ‘real beauty’ campaign) global corporations have changed tack in their advertising methods. The recent attempt of Gillette Venus to re-brand their razors to sit in a body-positivity mindset has them using the tagline ‘My Skin. My Way’. (small print ‘but only if you shave your armpits). But you can’t just use a couple of more unusual (or, perhaps, usual) looking models to nab yourself a place on the all-inclusivity bandwagon. Especially when your whole brand is telling women what to do with their hair. And anyway, do they honestly think that suddenly all those with stretch marks and quirks in skin pigmentation will jump off their sofas to the shops, realising that they too are now allowed to shave their legs with Gillette razors?

And what’s worse than this new advert advertising nothing new about their product? They are still selling razors under the name of a goddess formed directly as a result of male fantasy. My body? Venus is hardly a figurehead for the woke millennial woman.

Gillette is continuing to advertise a body owned by the patriarchy.

It’s so boring, isn’t it, this continuation of big corporations to sell us individualism, when we individuals have been living our original lives in all the beautifully and horribly varied ways we have chosen, before, during and after these incessant ad campaigns. Imagine how happy the most of us would be in our bodies if it wasn’t for these rampant capitalist campaigns to get into our subconscious?

Understanding the source of advertising is crucial to cut our ties and free our minds. Gillette has taken nothing more than an ancient male fantasy and is attempting to re-sell it to us under the guise of feminism.

Within the last decade, advertising aimed at women has u-turned. No longer are we told to aspire to be the identikit girl, but to be fearlessly and exhaustingly unique. Which we are, without being told, or buying new products or clothes or shaving or not shaving. Cut this advertising bullshit. We’re already there.

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