Thursday, April 22, 2010

Beauty is Truth, Truth Beauty. Except In Advertising.

Recently, ABC and Fox restricted the airplay of a new Lane Bryant lingerie ad. The ad was deemed too sexy for primetime, and required many edits before Fox agreed to air it, while ABC refused to air it during Dancing With the Stars- a show known as much for its suggestive costumes as it is for the foxtrotting of its contestants.

You can see the ad here- though I should point out that the Brandweek article says there were several women in the commercial in speculation, and this video only shows one.

So, she's in a bra. And panties. And she's off to see her manfriend while rebuking the advice her puritan mother gave her. It's obviously the large breasts that made the networks question the ad. We've all seen these sexy outfits in Victoria's Secret commercials for years. It's just that the Vickie's models are all so dang small their chests aren't quite this blatant or offensive.

I also think it's interesting that this model is off to a date, in a totally realistic setting while the VS models are more often writhing around on a bed or a sandy beach alone. For a really great example of this, watch the ad Michael Bay directed for them. (Also, read this bit about what a great person Michael Bay is.) It seems that the whole "just a normal girl" vibe plays down the sexiness of the ad when you compare it to the waterfalls that Adriana Lima gets shot under time and again.

As my co-workers and I were all discussing how wrong the networks were, our accountant interjected, saying "What I find offensive is that the Lane Bryant model is no more a representation of the average Lane Bryant customer than the Victoria's Secret models are of the Victoria's Secret customers. If Lane Bryant is so concerned with projecting the image of 'real women', why don't they use one?"

Marketing team, owned. She's totally right.

Yet I can't help but wonder what the response would have been to an ad campaign that featured women like Glamour's "Woman on Page 194", a woman with - gasp!- a roll in her stomach when she sits down. Is the world ready for that campaign, in a time where internet forums are open 24/7, infinite, and completely anonymous? In a time where Jessica Simpson in size 4 jeans becomes fodder for everyone including the Fox NFL broadcasters? Maybe I'm being too cynical, but I think the fall-out over that hypothetical ad would be bigger than anything the TV networks are facing right now.

Then again, maybe we need a full-on nationwide debate about this. Women of America, which of you will agree to showcase your imperfections for the good of society?! (Crickets.)


Shannon Clattenburg said...


Hands together for you on this one. I really enjoyed reading this post.

I 100% believe the networks are totally in the wrong here. Women and young girls are blasted with visions of skinny, sexy, women in the media from the time we wake up until the time we go to bed. Calvin Klein & Tommy Hilfigure print ads continually push the bar for what's appropriately sexy.

If anything, this LB ad is more real, than the majority of the ads we face each day. So what if her knockers are huge? It is showing a plus sized woman who is comfortable with her body. Not only enough to be able to walk around in lingerie, but enough to actually FEEL sexy.

The message in this ad, far outweighs any "inappropriateness" in my humble opinion. It's a good message. And if it empowers younger plus-sized girls to feel sexier, and more desirable in their own skin - so be it.

It's not like this ad is making them mature any faster. If anything, it's just helping them catch up to where the skinny girls already are.

Gina Marie said...

Thanks, Shannon! I think it will be very interesting to see how this all plays out.

I agree with you on the importance of women feeling comfortable in their own skin. If the media is going to bombard us with sex every second, then we might as well use that as a means for increasing self-confidence instead of making women feel like they don't fit the perfect mold.