Models and Media Sexualize Christmas for ‘Feminism’

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Big name models, backed by the media, are using Christmas—a Christian holy day remembering the Virgin Mary’s birth to the world’s Savior—to flaunt sexuality. But it’s okay, they say, because it “empowers” women.

On December 1, British magazine LOVE began its 7th annual online “Advent Calendar.” But instead of offering religious pictures or treats each day leading up to Christmas, this calendar uncovers something else: Sexually-charged videos starring nearly-naked models.

It’s not like these models need the gig. They’re big names already boasting successful careers. Models like Ashley Graham, Gigi and Bella Hadid, Kendall Jenner (of the Kardashian clan), Emily Ratajkowski, and Kate Upton.

Their reasoning is simple, according to them. After striking provocative poses for the camera, the models conclude each video with a special message for women: “Stay Strong.”

But suggesting a woman’s strength relies on her sexual appeal isn’t “strong.” And making a mockery of Christmas isn’t either.

While the calendar began two days before Advent begins for Catholics—and continues into January—the magazine insists that it celebrates Christmas.

“They all seem to really love contributing,” gushed editor-in-chief Katie Grand of the models. “Who doesn’t love Christmas?”

The American media agree, and are happily advertizing the models’ efforts.

Elle magazine praised Ashley Graham as “fierce and flawless” while “wearing just mesh underwear.” Her video, added editor Amy Mackelden, “will get just about anyone into the Christmas spirit.”

Others joined in. Cosmopolitan called it “sexxxy,” with writer Laura Beck adding, “these videos are nice and Ashley’s **s is straight smokin’!” Maxim heralded her as “sizzling” in the “sexy Christmas tradition.” And the project left celebrity blogger Perez Hilton “speechless.” He called it a “hot and interesting twist on an Advent calendar.”

For model Emily Ratajkowski, who “sizzles” while “slithering around a table of spaghetti” (yes, she does that), Sports Illustrated writer Andy Gray advertised, “It’s quite spectacular.” Madeleine Aggeler, a staff writer for The Cut, called the pasta dance “truly the feminist rallying cry of our generation.”

“Shooting the Advent calendar,” Graham argued, “is a true expression of self-love and empowers women to embrace their own sexuality.” Similarly, Jenner commented, “It’s a chance to have fun and embrace a strong self and always a good time.”

But Ratajkowski, anticipating critics, gave a more detailed explanation.

“To me, female sexuality and sexiness, no matter how conditioned it may be by a patriarchal ideal, can be incredibly empowering for a woman if she feels it is empowering to her,” she argued.

“I’m tired of having to consider how I might be perceived by men if I wear the short skirt or post a sexy Instagram,” she concluded. “I want to do what I want to do.”

In charge of the entire project, Grand agreed that men were not, and should not, be a part of the equation.

“Peace on earth and goodwill towards all men … well, towards all women, anyway,” Grand said, referencing the Biblical words of the angels in her praise for the Advent calendar. “It’s festive, it’s fun and it’s everything we love about women enjoying being women, on their own terms.”

But that message is anything but angelic. As author Christopher West said in his explanation of St. John Paul II’s Theology of the Body, the “problem with pornography is not that it shows too much, but that it shows too little.” These videos commit the same sin by hiding the human person.

Human sexuality and physical strength are beautiful. But these videos forget to tell their women viewers that they are far more than that: Human persons with intrinsic value—complete with their own mind, heart, and soul.

The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of CatholicVote.org

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Katie Yoder serves as the associate culture editor at NewsBusters and is a columnist for CatholicVote.org. She is also the Joe and Betty Anderlik Fellow for the Media Research Center’s culture division. Follow her on Twitter @k_yoder.

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