The Objectification Of People: Women This Week, By Carmel O’ Reilly

These Women Are Too This, These Women Are Too That, These Women Are Too the Other – These Comments Were in Relation to Age, Size and Colour

The Objectification of People … are people’s stories of the objectification they experienced themselves, or witnessed – of people around them, or of people in society at large. People’s stories of how they objected strongly to the objectification of people, sometimes inside of themselves, causing them to walk away from these people and situations, and other times when they spoke up and spoke out. Stories of how people took the steps they could to stop this objectification of people – how they did this by walking the talk, by never engaging in this practice, by being the change they wanted to see in people, by living their WorkLife true to their values. People’s stories of what they were able to do to make an impact in making it known that this was not a practice they approved of, that this was not a practice that was acceptable, and that this is a practice that everyone had the ability to impact to enable positive change within themselves, their groups, and society at large.

These Women Are Too This, These Women Are Too That, These Women Are Too the Other – These comments were In relation to age, size and colour … I felt sick in my stomach hearing those words …

But let’s back up a little to my story: The Objectification of People Case Study: 

Object To Objectification

I sometimes get asked to take part in focus groups, to be part of a discussion where I give my opinion on products or services, where I share my thinking on things that are happening in the world, from politics to economics and much more in between. 

I was taking part in a focus group discussion about a clothing brand which was looking to reenergise itself, and also to reach different audiences. It was an all-women’s group aged over 50. We were given a homework task before attending, which was to think about what influenced us in the world of clothing: ’influencers’ we were aware of, people who wrote blogs or used social media channels such as Instagram to get their thinking out into the world, brands we liked, who were doing a good job within their industry, magazines we read, commercials we’d seen, anything that had influenced us, things we liked and also things we didn’t like.

During the discussion we were introduced to the brand – which we all recognised as a high-street retail chain. While many of us had shopped there in the past, none of us had shopped there in recent years. This was because we associated it with being for a younger age group.

We were shown their marketing campaign material: posters, TV advertising, their catalogue, their social media platforms, photos, blogs and so on.

The brand wanted to reach women of our age, and the focus group was designed to discover what they needed to do in order to achieve this. In sharing their thoughts and opinions, the women in the group said: These Women Are Too This, These Women Are Too That, These Women Are Too the Other.These comments were in relation to age, size and colour … 

I felt sick in my stomach hearing these words, and a voice in my head was screaming: NO, PLEASE STOP! STOP objectifying women, STOP making it about a woman’s age, her size, the colour of her skin. STOP being part of what has become the norm: the norm of individuals, the norm of groups, the norm of society. STOP being women who objectify women. Just STOP it now.

While everything going on in my head was causing me to feel sickened and enraged, I wanted to express this in a way that demonstrated my thinking, without alienating the rest of the group. In my mind I asked myself what I could say in this moment that would allow me to express that I think what is going on is the objectification of women, and that I’m not OK with that. The self-feedback that came to me in that moment was that I could do this by talking about and sharing the book the homework task had taken me to.

Book Wisdom

The book was Dreaming of Dior by Charlotte Smith. The premise of the book is that every dress tells a story. Smith writes about the inheritance she received from her American Quaker godmother, Doris Darnell. How the boxes started arriving, with more than three thousand pieces dating from 1790 to 1995, from Dior and Chanel originals to a dainty pioneer dress. How it was when she unearthed her godmother’s book of stories, that the true value of what she had been bequeathed hit home. This wasn’t merely a collection of beautiful things, it was a collection of life. Women’s lives. Tiny snapshots of our joys and disappointments, our entrances and exits, triumphant and tragic. 

I shared the story of how I came to discover this book My mum was born in an era when women always dressed up when leaving the house: not for a night on the tiles, but for everyday occasions, such as a trip to the local grocery store. I always remember her looking elegant, and she had a penchant for clothes and accessories. Sadly, towards the end of my mum’s life she developed dementia, which progressed quite rapidly. She had to go into a retirement home as she required round the clock care. As a family we felt we’d lost her: the dementia took away aspects of her personality and parts of her memory. She just wasn’t the same anymore and it was heart-breaking.

When we went to visit, she always knew us, but as soon as we left she wouldn’t remember we’d been there. We also couldn’t have a conversation with her, because she just couldn’t remember things, and she’d become frustrated and agitated. It was too upsetting for her.

My mum had a love of reading, and over the years along with books, she also enjoyed reading fashion magazines. Sadly, she was no longer able to read, and wanting to find a way of spending time with her, I began to think about books I could read to her, which she would enjoy. Thinking about it in terms of what she loved in her life led me to discovering Dreaming of Dior by Charlotte Smith. My mum loved it. She’d listen as I read the stories of the fabulous dresses and their adventures. She looked at the beautiful images of the dresses, which had been illustrated by Grant Cowan – an illustrator who worked on magazines such as Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour and Red Magazine. Our time spent together in this way seemed to have a calming effect on my mum.  She was always less agitated and more relaxed, and my sister would tell me of how she’d show her the book when she visited – she remembered it was in her bedside locker.

I went on to share what I believed to be:

Sage Wisdom

Dresses are about where they take women, where women take their dresses, the adventures they go on together, the experiences and memories they create, which remain within their hearts and minds, and will continue to live on through the stories women tell about their dresses.

Words of Wisdom

“A dress can hold a lifetime of memories for a woman.” Charlotte Smith


While I have no way of knowing the impact my words, my thinking, or the story I shared had on the brand’s marketing campaign, it did have an impact on the women in the room, as they each began sharing stories of dresses they had been on an adventure with: a dress they wore on a special date, a dress they wore to an event which they had a fond memory of, a dress they wore when they were travelling and exploring new and different places. My story took the conversation away from objectifying women by their age, size or colour of their skin, to sharing stories that were meaningful to each woman in the room.

Today’s story was about the objectification of women. Next week’s story is about the objectification of men.

Todays Book of the Blog is: Dreaming of Dior by Charlotte Smith

Disclosure: I participate in the Amazon Associate Programme. This means if you click through and make a purchase through my referral links, I’ll be compensated. Using the links won’t cost you anything extra, and it helps to keep the blog. Thank you.

WorkLife Book Wisdom

The intention of this blog is to inspire you through people’s stories of their WorkLife experiences. Through these stories you will learn about people’s dreams and ambitions, along with the challenges, obstacles and successes they encountered along the road of their WorkLife journey. And how they used the power of book wisdom to help them find the inspiration and guidance to navigate their path to live their WorkLife with passion, purpose and pride. 

My hope is that these book wisdom stories will help you throughout the chapters of your WorkLife Story.

Published by Carmel O' Reilly

I’m Carmel O’ Reilly, Founder of I’m the author Your WorkLife Your Way, blogger and podcaster on the subject of WorkLife. My work focuses on helping people to live their best WorkLives, by managing their learning, development and growth, through effective self-feedback, insightful self-questions and the ability to shape and tell their unique story. My Mission is: “To spread the power of WorkLives lived with Passion, Purpose and Pride by creating continuous WorkLife learning programmes that are accessible to everyone.”

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