Why Are There So Many 'Headless Women' On Movie Posters?

Hollywood sexism is the hot topic du jour thanks to the recent revelations of sexual harassment and gender pay inequality within the industry, but misogyny also extends to how women are portrayed in film and by marketing teams – and nowhere is this misogyny more obvious than in movie posters.
Back in 2016, The Headless Women of Hollywood initiative began pulling together examples of the dehumanisation of women on movie posters, and now the founder has put the issue back on the agenda with the help of Twitter.
In a now viral thread, Marcia Belsky posted her "most impressive" examples of headless women used to promote movies, and the sexism is so blatant and ridiculous that you'd be forgiven for having to stifle a laugh.
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There's a mix of both old, classic posters and newer posters and promotional material, to really hammer home how common it is for women to be treated as pieces of meat by one of the world's most influential movie industries.
Let's hope the recent discussions around Hollywood sexism make this bizarre trend a thing of the past.
This story was originally published on 9th May 2016.
What do Hot Tub Time Machine, Minions, and American Beauty have in common? Their movie posters all feature headless women. The phenomenon of movie posters featuring women with their faces turned away or their heads completely missing from the frame is bizarrely ubiquitous across different genres. This is the troubling pattern explored by the Tumblr The Headless Women of Hollywood.
The blog, which features posters of headless women alongside entertaining, completely frustrated commentary, was started by stand-up comic Marcia Belsky. Belsky explains on the blog why she believes examining and questioning the headless woman trope is so important.
"The head is first and foremost the thinking part of the human body, where our motivations and feelings are located," she writes. "So, these images we are bombarded with on a daily basis tell us persistently that women’s thoughts, feelings, and personal agency either don’t exist or are of no interest. Further, facial features are the way we recognise other people. It’s the face that makes us individuals. That too is taken away, and we are taught that all women, especially ones that match the ideal, are the same and interchangeable."
Scrolling through the images, which also include headless women on album covers, TV promos, and other ads, it's plain to see how common they are, and more importantly, how easy it is to start seeing them as normal. When women are pictured without heads, their objectification seems almost like a given. Hollywood has a long way to go in achieving gender parity, but featuring women who seem like entire people, rather than a collection of body parts, could be one place to start. As Belsky puts it simply, "Damnit Hollywood! We want heads!"
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