Slow Clap For Avon…
This week I was saddened and extremely disappointed by Avon Canada’s decision to advertise an anti-cellulite product in a such an insensitive and, quite frankly, ghastly way. My attention was drawn to the Avon issue, by women on social media who, like me, were quite frankly shocked and disgusted. The advert in the Avon brochure features a beautiful YOUNG woman, giggling in cute shorts and a vest. The caption reads “dimples are cute on your face (not on your thighs)”. As you then flick to the next image, it is another beautiful young woman, kneeling and holding her fist in the air, in a power stance. Looking strong and fierce. The caption reads “always stand firm (don’t let sagging skin get you down)”. The next image shows a sexy curvy girl, sassily pouting and holding her hands up, as if to block the way… the caption “stop stretch marks (in their tracks)”. SIGH… I’m not sure what is more insulting, the seemingly celebratory, feminist poses with completely opposing captions, the insinuation that stretch marks and cellulite are bad, or just the blatant body shaming.
My little BoPo army of students at my school helped me “correct” some of the negative messages being conveyed by these ads.
The Best a Man Can Get?
This week the Gillette advert has been hotly debated, apparently there are men everywhere devastated by the mere thought that being asked to be a decent human being by one of “their” brands is just emasculating and out of order. Yet women are being constantly told that they are not good enough, because their bodies do not fit the ‘ideal’ created by the media. There is a seemingly endless barrage of insidious messages that are continually being slammed in to our consciousness.Yet some men are upset by the notion that to be kind rather than letchy, to not man-splain, rape, beat, belittle or patronise women is somehow taking away their masculinity. Sorry fellas, but being masculine is not about having power over the opposite sex, it’s standing up for what is right, it’s taking care of those around you, it is accepting that, sometimes (and it’s more often than not) women face hardships that men never have to. Men don’t get felt up in public, told to smile by other men (“cheer up love it might never happen”), whistled at or cat-called, even insulted and berated for not looking a certain way. Men don’t get told that they were “asking for it” if they choose to walk about without their tops on in the summer, but god forbid a woman wears a short skirt or revealing top. Yes, she is definitely saying “please violate me in the worse way possible, thank you”. It also implies that men can’t control themselves, which is ultimately a terrible way to think and what’s more, it’s just downright insulting and ridiculous. I have been lucky to have been predominantly surrounded by really decent men, who don’t need to be reminded not to be dicks, but this isn’t always the case out there in the big, wide, male dominated world.
Our young men are being brought up by a generation of men whose teenage years were rooted in the 90’s. The 90’s were a hotbed of trashy lad-mags like ‘Nuts’, ‘Zoo’ and ‘Loaded’, which promoted the kind of toxic masculinity that Gillette is trying to raise awareness of. I know there are a lot of people thinking cynically about Gillette’s decision to get involved, but I think it should be down to big companies to get involved and take a stance. It is a social responsibility. No one complains about Dove’s body positive campaign, which is awesome by the way! But because it’s focused on women it hasn’t entered the radar of the poor men who feel slighted by the Gillette advert. Why would it? It’s not their problem.
— Gillette (@Gillette) January 14, 2019
Also, damn straight for calling out people on the use of “Boys will be boys”, it is an excuse for poor behaviour and also lumps all boys in to the same category. I was quite cross a few months back when George at Asda produced a vulgar t-shirt stating just that. I felt the need to comment…
In fact, it seems to me that big companies are making more of an effort to be socially responsible and show a much broader face of society in their advertising. Maltesers’ and McCain’s “We are family” adverts are starting to show a wider view of “normal life”, not just the typical white, middle class, hetro families. I love how warm and funny they are and it is the responsibility of companies to try and reach out. It was interesting this week to hear the two opposing views about non disabled actors acting disabled. Bryan Cranston recently coming under fire for taking a role as a disabled millionaire in his most recent film. This contrasted with Jameela Jamil turning down a role to play a deaf girl, asking that it be given to a “brilliant deaf woman”. Now I am not 100% sure where I stand with all this, but I’m inclined to feel that Jamella Jamil is on to something. In fact, she has gone up in my estimation in recent months for calling out celebrities who promote weight loss teas.
Since I actually started writing this post Jameela Jamil might have just became my newest hero… posting on Twitter that Avon are “clowns” and helping to get the advert pulled. An absofuckinglutely BRILLIANT way to use your social standing as a celebrity, to influence and call out big corporations. Avon have since apologised and said their “humourous” approach had “missed the mark”… No shit Sherlock. Jameela… I bow to thee. ❤️❤️❤️
And yet EVERYONE has dimples on their thighs, I do, you do, and the CLOWNS at @Avon_UK certainly do. Stop shaming women about age, gravity and cellulite. They’re inevitable, completely normal things. To make us fear them and try to “fix”them, is to literally set us up for failure pic.twitter.com/78kqu3nHeE
— Jameela Jamil (@jameelajamil) January 19, 2019
Beach Body Ready? Oh do F*CK Off…
In 2015 the world went crazy over the “Are you Beach Body Ready” ads posted all over the tube. I use this as a discussion point with students when talking about body image. The outcry was absolutely called for and of course it prompted all the “how to get a beach body. 1. Have a body. 2. Get a bikini” memes, which I loved. But it is this toxic advertising that makes us women constantly second guess ourselves and that makes our young women and girls start to worry about their bodies from a ridiculously early age. ‘Simply Be’ have been promoting healthy body image by celebrating beautiful curvy ladies on screen…. “But doesn’t that promote obesity??!?!” I hear the haters cry….funnily enough the world hasn’t suddenly gone out and started eating all the cake.
Just one more moan before I sign off… negative advertising drives me potty. ‘Centre Parcs’ and ‘TUI’ show the transformations of mardy teenage girls into cheerful, loving young ladies just because they are on holiday. Or couples rowing over a product, it just makes me so uncomfortable. Perhaps I am too optimistic and need mine with a bit of sugar on top! The world can be a grim enough place as it is!
Miserable teenager goes on amazing holiday and spends half of it pulling faces at her mum…
Anyhoo… That’s just my thoughts. Advertising is a powerful tool, I just wish it would be used to do more good than harm, rather than the other way around. Don’t get me wrong, I get that companies need to sell their products. I am not totally naïve but does it have to be at the expense of women’s self-worth?
So here’s my response to the Avon campaign… “The only thing cuter than the dimples on my legs are my ‘Stitch’ shorts. Shame on you for body shaming”.
By the way, did I tell you…? Advertising does not determine your self-worth. Your stripes and dimples are fine just as they are and you do not need some bullshit product to erase them. ❤️❤️❤️❤️