Keywords: gender; media; teenagers; showgirls; commodification of the body.
ince the last years of the Berlusconi IV Cabinet, a vibrant public debate has arisen around the degrading images of women in the Italian media and the commodification of the female body. The spread of TV showgirls known as «Velinismo» has been one of the main focuses of this debate; its major opponents agree that a) Veline and other sexy starlets are «different» from «ordinary» women in «real» life; b) their commodification of the body is similar to that of escorts and sex workers; c) nowadays, they have become a career model for teenagers (especially for girls). This article, based on focus groups with adolescents, shows a more complex reality. Teenagers do adhere to these three positions, but at the same time they do not consider showgirls as victims. They see their images as unrealistic and unattainable, even though they want to look like them. They appreciate the imagery of success, but share meritocratic ideals. A way out of these contradictions is for them to attribute to others the harmful effect of media images and to reaffirm their adherence to traditional values.