Performing Gender as a Promotional Model


In this article, author Sara Snitselaar, recounts her own experiences as a promotional model. While she views it as a lucrative way of getting through her college education and a means towards her graduate education, she knows others that she encounters do not see it as such. A promotional model, for those who may not know, is a model-spokesperson employed by a company to promote a product (usually alcohol, but also cars or fitness regimes.) Unlike the average salesperson, a promotional model often has a tight and revealing uniform, and promotes the product not only with catchphrases and product information, but with [generally] her own body. Snitselaar readily acknowledges that her day job is problematic, and cites an article by Sandra Fish that explains these problems. Regardless of this, Snitselaar argues that in terms of practicality her job as a promotional model is a rational decision, that is helping her realize real goals.  She sees the negativity of promotional modeling more in the reactions she elicits from clients. Men that she meets on the job especially devalue her and base her real life persona upon her work uniform and demeanor. 

I think that I more or less agree with Snitselaar. While it is depressing that objectifying women is one of the best ways to sell a product (literally anything. hamburgers, soap, etc), that doesn’t make it okay to dehumanize the women that do choose to support themselves by being promotional models. The concept of conscious self-objectivization for profit can be seen as symbolic violence, in that the job itself is a product of a societal inequity between the sexes. However, the direct effects can be considered structural violence, in that promotional models like Snitselaar are maltreated based on an entrenched inequality.