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Sexy sells. There’s nothing that a young, beautiful, perfectly retouched woman in a bikini with big cleavage and a round, well-trained butt can’t sell. You see her in calendars at every mechanic’s garage around the world and she pops up in just about all types of advertising. And wouldn’t you know, it looks like she’s got a new bikini line to promote these days.

Of all places she is moving to the professional online network LinkedIn.

Not only have we been encountering the barely dressed woman on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, but equally sparsely clad she is making an entrance into our business address book.

How do we feel about that?

Admittedly, my body has celebrated its best years and that saddens me a little. As the founder of the movement The Women’s Code I celebrate women no matter what. So when I see someone who is in her prime, I’m the first to say, “You got it girl—flaunt it while you can!” While strolling down Santa Monica Promenade, I go so far as to point out gorgeous women and marvel at their ridiculously long legs and well-toned bodies.

No harm done, right? Just looking.

I was a photo editor at Elle Magazine and yes, sex sells. Catchy “pseudo” questions in marketing like Is the blue or the purple more appealing? or Should I wear a hat with this bikini? are truly inane, but their purpose is to invite the viewer to look at her body while remaining unflinchingly guilt free.

Admiring naked beauty can unleash a truckload of fantasies. Watching and looking stimulates thoughts of what it would feel like and look like to be with such a perfect person in a variety of situations, including sexual ones.

As the founder of The Women’s Code, a movement to help women be more successful in their professional careers and more balanced in their personal lives while feeling good about themselves, I believe this type of advertising especially on a professional network like LinkedIn is cheap kicks for men and a disservice to women. We endured enough of these ads in the 80s and 90s. This is 2016, well beyond time for a change.

Campaigns like Run Like A Girl and Dove Real Beauty demonstrate that we understand the damage caused by flashing unachievable imagery as the ideal for women. Blah blah size 2, blah blah blonde hair, blah blah high heels. You know how it goes.

Young women commit suicide over low self-esteem, kill themselves trying to be unnaturally thin, or establish life-long hate relationships with themselves. We know this, yet the ads continue. And it is other women who are creating them.

But Beate, I want to sell more of my stuff. It’s just a harmless photo, don’t be a prude. And if sex sells, why not use it?

Because any woman and man who continues to use these marketing and sales techniques hinders the progress of women. The progress I am talking about includes having equality, being taken seriously, and being heard in grown up conversations about important issues.

Of course we will continue to frolic in our bikinis on the beach or poolside when it’s time to do that. And I do want to see bikini photos when I am ready to buy one on the website that sells them. But now that there is a code for women, can we please use more than our “ass”etts to get noticed? A beautiful woman will still be beautiful regardless the length of her skirt or how much cleavage she shows. Finally, we can see that we are changing the public image of how women want to be perceived. Just take a look at this great campaign of a 60 year old modeling a biking.

Looking at the 400+ comments on the bikini LinkedIn posts, I marvel at the sheer stupidity of some statements left by men. Really guys, is this the quality of your professional contribution to LinkedIn? Did you forget that your comments are visible under recent activity on your profile page?

At 51%, women are the majority of the American population and frankly, we need to speak out and get going on a few changes of how we allow ourselves to be viewed and judged. I urge you to decide whether or not you are going to participate in supporting the outdated ways of how women are portrayed. For my part, I am not.

Be disciplined with yourself, especially if you are a man. Think about: Is this the right place for this? And do think about your daughters. Would you want another man to make a comment on her harmless sexy vacation photo in a bikini like the one you just made?

Of course not.

And if you are a woman, I hope you are as tired as I am of seeing these attention grabbing ads. We have to play the women card correctly. And we have to speak out. You have a voice. Use it. Here’s how:

 

To Candice Galek from BikiniLuxe:

A woman in a bikini has no place on a worldwide professional network that is frequented by people from all over the world with diverse views. You are doing women a big disservice. I urge you to reconsider your sales and promotional strategies. You are not helping women, you are hurting us and most of all you are hurting yourself with this old fashioned approach to selling.

 

Now it’s your turn dear reader—let me know what you want to speak out against.

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