Sometimes, life is hard, and the world is unpleasant, and you just need a smile. Now people are showing how bad stock photos go beyond women laughing alone with salad. There are also #BadStockPhotosOfMyJob, and they can get… pretty bad. (Or… pretty spicy.)
The Trump campaign’s attempts to humanize The Donald via a Twitter campaign by his kids have gotten off to a rocky start. First, there was the “insider vs. outsider” tweet featuring Ivanka, Eric, and Donald Jr., #millennialsfortrump. Most recently, it’s Junior’s Skittles tweet, which equates Syrian refugees to poisonous Skittles.
Allow me to, as an advertising professional, break down some of the mistakes Junior made in his tweet.
Happy Women’s Day, South Africa! So, Bic is really bad at women. Last time, it was lady pens. This time, it’s an ad that encourages women to, among other things, “look like a girl” and “think like a man.” (#HappyWomensDay, y’all!)
Toward the end of January, Dove’s “Campaign for Real Beauty” celebrated its tenth anniversary. Ten years of raising women’s self-esteem and/or just telling us we’re not as ugly as we think we are (mileage varies).
Always, the company that sells menstrual products, ran a minute-long Super Bowl spot trimmed down from their longer #LikeAGirl video released this summer. The ad challenges the stereotype that running, throwing, and fighting “like a girl” indicates weakness and ineptitude by running the expression by adults (and one young boy), and then by a series of girls who haven’t yet been told that “like a girl” is usually meant as a bad thing. And then it took about ten minutes for the meninists to start protesting the “inequality” that there wasn’t another commercial for #LikeABoy.
This is why we can’t have nice things.
I recognize, and have always recognized, that I’m kind of a sucker. And someone who’s spent as much time as I have working in advertising really should find herself less entertained by it. But here’s the thing: After spending so much time in recent times insisting to us that what Lego girls really want is pastel-purple bricks, “mini dolls,” and pre-made sets requiring minimal assembly, Lego has made an ad that I really like. Are they doing it to get money out of people? Yes. It’s what’s known in the industry as an “advertisement.” But it’s one that shows a girl playing with Legos the way research indicates girls play with Legos: Taking the world around her and creating a world of her own, using her imagination to see
Mainstream women’s magazines, despite their protestations to the contrary, are rarely an outright bastion of body positivity for any woman of non-model proportions and facial features. So it’s admirable that it was Marie Claire Australia that commissioned six ad agencies to create print ads encouraging women to love their bodies. But is it enough?
Season 3 of HBO’s Girls premiered Sunday night, Lena Dunham is on the cover of next month’s Vogue, and after a reporter from The Wrap asked her why she gets naked so often everyone is talking about how often Lena Dunham gets naked. So I am too! Over at the Guardian, I say that Girls is an imperfect show, but Dunham’s nudity is powerful: Not just because she looks more like the average American woman than most women on television, but because her nakedness isn’t primarily ornamental, purposed for titillation and aspiration.
We live in an era of unprecedented access to information about sex, imagery of sex and health care related to sex. Internet porn is ubiquitous. Sexual health information, though not always easily accessible, is more accessible online, in mainstream publications (hello Cosmo) and at doctor’s offices than ever before. Frank discussion of sexual pleasure is standard on television and in movies. There are entire university departments dedicated to the study of human sexuality. That’s all good, and we have early sexual pioneers and researchers to thank for it. But we still have quite a long way to go. I’d love to see us embrace a vision of sexuality that isn’t transactional or gendered or capitalist:
And it’s to so thoroughly entrance you with this unbelievably cute little girl that you’re to the grocery store, through it, and back out in the parking lot before you realize you’ve bought six boxes of Cheerios and you don’t even like cereal. I mean, look at her.
The Riva Spatz Women’s Wall of Honour is a wall at Mount Saint Vincent University that pays tribute to remarkable women, and the intended message of the billboard is, “You should donate to the Women’s Wall of Honour, much like we did.”