Words, words, words, art.

The Blatherings Of A Blitherer

Dove wants your money and will tell you what you want to hear

March28

You’ve probably seen the latest Dove viral ad campaign. It’s a video available on you tube about how totally awesome Dove is because of their decade long “Real Beauty” campaign and how now they’re going after the people who are REALLY evil: “art directors, graphic designers, and photo retouchers.” Not ad executives and companies, no. Just those evil artists who for reasons TOTALLY UNKNOWN make women feel bad ON PURPOSE about their bodies. But how to “catch them in the act!!!” and “make them reconsider”? They needed a plan! So they created a Photoshop Action and released it into the wild, where it will be used by amateurs who want to make wedding and baby photographs look better. Billed as a “skin glow effect” they posted it on reddit and other places where art directors, graphic designers, and professional photo retouchers TOTALLY hang out and get their totally professional Photoshop Actions, Brushes, etc from.

In reality, all the Action does is revert all changes made to the original image and pop up a scolding message.

Don’t manipulate our perceptions of real beauty.

Of course, to undo that reversion, all one has to do is hit… well… undo.

BAM! A totally effective message that will OBVIOUSLY CHANGE THE WORLD FOREVER!

Or, more likely, go viral and make Dove look totally awesome and progressive because they just love women so much and are so willing to take on those horrible evil photo retouchers who are just the WORST, right?

Dove, remember, is owned by Unilver which has those atrocious Axe commercials (women! they are fuck beasts for fucking!) and SlimFast (women: you are fat cows, stop eating!). If they really wanted to push for long acting real social change, they could apply pressure to Unilver to at the very least stop marketing Axe the way it’s marketed.

Of course, they could also change their own advertising as well.

I mean, if Dove really thinks womens’ bodies are beautiful and we should all stop altering our perceptions of real beauty, maybe they shouldn’t find new body parts for women to be ashamed of? I, for one, never knew my armpits were ugly until Dove told me so.

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If Dove really thinks womens’ bodies are beautiful and we should all stop altering our perceptions of real beauty, they wouldn’t market Firming Creams, and their criteria for casting calls wouldn’t be quite as shameful (beautiful skin and hair only! No zits or scars, those are GROSSSSSSSS).

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If Dove (and Unilever) really thinks womens’ bodies are beautiful and we should all stop altering our perceptions of real beauty, they wouldn’t market skin-lightening creams (which are physically as well as emotionally harmful) around the world.

Like diet companies who co-opt HAES and Size Acceptance verbage, and companies who practice Greenwashing, Dove is taking Body Acceptance language and using it to sell product. They are telling women what they think women want to hear for the sole reason that they want to sell products to those women. There’s nothing inherently wrong with companies advertising their wares. What’s wrong is the incredibly hypocritical advertising Dove uses. They aren’t trying to change the world, but they very willing to use social justice and activism language to sell their products and their subtle form of body hate. Dove doesn’t give a shit about your body or how beautiful you feel, they just want your money.

One of the worst things is that Dove is actually in a position to make actual changes in the industry. Instead of telling everyone that we should pat them on the back for promoting size acceptance and bodily diversity (while actually showing a pretty narrow range of sizes and skin colors), they could just use a wide variety of women of different body types and ethnicities. They could show instead of telling. They could push for Unilever to do the same with other ad campaigns as well. And they could pressure Unilever to drop the body shaming, sexist, manipulative language and images that other Unilever products use. But Dove isn’t doing that. Instead, they’re creating viral videos that do the bulk of advertising for them (saving them money) and creating good will among their users. It’s an effective ad campaign, but it’s also an insulting one.

Dove claims that they’re against distorting perceptions of beauty, which is harmful to women, while telling women that their armpits are ugly and their skin is saggy and their scars are gross and their frizzy hair is uggsville and their dark/uneven skin is THE WORST, but hey it’s ok because they can spend money on products to make them prettier YAY GIRL POWER WOOOOO now how about a nice round of SlimFast for all? The hypocrisy is thick on the ground.

posted under advertising, body issues, fat, feminism, health, politics, social responsibility, vanity, women | Comments Off on Dove wants your money and will tell you what you want to hear

Ladymags

July8

I want to say that it’s been, literally, years since I’ve read Cosmo or other magazines-aimed-at-sexy-young-ladies. Which isn’t to say I don’t read magazines aimed at women, because I do read Real Simple and Martha Stewart Living and I’m aware that they have their own issues with sexism and aspiration and stuff. But I’ve been a lot happier and healthier since cutting fluffy fashion mags about dieting and sex and spending and enforced femininity/gender roles out of my life. There’s a common area on the 2nd floor of the building I work in, and I’ve been eating lunch there, and someone left out a stack of old Cosmos; and every time I walked past them I had this almost physical itch to pick them up, to read them, to open up their bright candy colored covers with scantily clad women on them and read about SEVEN SEX SECRETS ABOUT YOUR BOYFRIEND EVEN HE DOESN’T KNOW and THAT ITCH: IS IT DEADLY and FIVE HUNDRED MUST HAVE FASHION ITEMS ON SALE NOW etc.

I grew up as, you know, that girl. I had terrible glasses and terrible hair and terrible fashion and smelled weird and had no friends and poor social skills. I hung around adults aching for their approval. When I was in high school and early college, magazines like Cosmo were a little doorway into what the world considered “normal.” That normalcy included a LOT of body shame and disordered thinking, to an extreme that even I– desperate to fit in– picked up on. And maybe if I’d been more mainstream all my life I wouldn’t have picked up on it, but having it suddenly thrust at me wholly formed, with no real previous exposure, it really stuck out. But I kept reading them, because that’s what women DID. They read the right magazines and wore the right makeup, and wore the right clothing, and bought the right things, and did the right exercises, and knew all about how to please their men in bed and out of bed, and if I could just figure out the right secret code to life I could fit in and be successful too.

Oh, internet. Thank you so much for allowing me to meet other women who didn’t follow ladymags, for exposing me to so much feminist writing. It was like a frigging lifeline.

Self worth is way better than this season’s hottest lipgloss.

On the other hand, thank you internet also for allowing me to meet so many Fancy Ladies, Fops, and Dandies who enjoy the hell out of this season’s hottest lipgloss, makeup, nails, clothing, shoes, and accessories FOR THEMSELVES and not because they HAVE TO, and showing me that I can do the same. Fanciness and fashion doesn’t have to be the enemy, you know?

More and more I’m finding a healthy middle ground and it’s so great to have so many resources.

posted under advertising, body issues, feminism, women | Comments Off on Ladymags

Want an iPad 2? Win an iPad 2.

March23

I’m posting this to enter a contest offered by Brad’s Deals at Sweetney! I want to win the white iPad 2! You can enter here.

posted under advertising | Comments Off on Want an iPad 2? Win an iPad 2.

Despite what the commercials claim…

December28

Despite what the commercials claim, dieting isn’t going to fix all your problems.

No, joining weight watchers isn’t going to prevent jerks from slamming into your desk and spilling coffee all over your shirt. Nor will joining weight watchers prevent rain from falling from the sky and getting you wet.

I just… what?

Dieting isn’t some magic fix that will repair everything that’s wrong with your life.

Also, if you are an adult, don’t be surprised if a child’s size chair is too small for you. No amount of Special K magical special diets will turn an adult’s butt into a child’s butt.

Adults and children are different sizes. Children are smaller than adults. Yes, there are especially large children and especially small adults, but in general, child-sized things are child-sized because children are smaller than adults.

As baffling as the weight watcher’s commercial was (seriously? coffee spills can be solved by losing weight? only fat people spill coffee when jerks bang into them? rain, which once fell on the just and unjust alike, now targets fatties?), the Special K commercial seems more harmful. There’s the push to shrink female bodies, to reduce them to non-adult sizes. There’s existing rhetoric about how dieting mentality infantalizes women by removing their ability to chose what to eat, that dieting mentality punishes women for defying the ideal feminine norm and growing hips and butts and breasts (you know, secondary sexual signs). But now the message is coming clear: adult women are fucking hose beast lard bags if they don’t fit neatly into furniture scaled for children. Women: they need to remain child like and child sized or they are useless and terrible and need to be fixed. Adult women: there is something wrong with them.

The hell?

Note also that both commercials show conventionally attractive women who do not appear fat, or even chubby, and who have children. Ahh, true womanhood. Hot and fertile.

posted under advertising, body issues, feminism, health, life, TV, women | Comments Off on Despite what the commercials claim…

I win at life. And tights giveaways.

June20

I posted earlier about the We Love Colors giveaway at Elle In Wonderland.

I totally won! Holy crap. Hoooooly craaaaaaap.

I have requested this striped pair in black and scarlet red.

When they arrive I will post a review and possibly pictures of my bad self wearing them.

Win A Pair Of Tights From “We Love Colors”

June8

Elle in Wonderland is running a promo to win a pair of tights from “We Love Colors.” I’ve been browsing their website for awhile now thinking about what kind of tights I could encase my fat legs in, so this promo has me very excited.

My top choices are these white striped tights, these black striped tights, or solid color maroon which will match this really wild dress I have that I’m, frankly, a little scared to wear because it’s PATTERN! and COLOR! and OMGCLEAVAGE!

Swing by her blog to leave a comment entry.

They have dude hosiery, too.

posted under advertising, clothes, fat | Comments Off on Win A Pair Of Tights From “We Love Colors”

Vespa Ads

May2







I’ve wanted a Vespa for years. Something that’s small, easily maneuverable, and gets good gas mileage and looks super cute. What’s not to love about it? Sadly, Chicago has crap winters and I haven’t wanted to shell out money for a vehicle I can only use about 4 months a year.

There’s another reason I haven’t seriously looked into buying a Vespa, and that’s because I’m fat. Like a lot of fat people, I’m paranoid about breaking things with my immense, ungodly bulk. Will floors support me? Chairs? Suspension bridges? Ladders? Sidewalk grates? Back porches? There’s a few reasons for my fear, ranging from people constantly telling me since a fairly slender childhood that I was fatter than the moon and thus absolutely abnormal and not allowed to use tire swings, roller skates, and stuff like that for fear of breakage to falling through a back porch that was riddled with dry rot. I was five. Few five year olds are heavy enough to bust through a wooden porch by simple virtue of being superfat. But I’d been told so often that I was a fatty fatty fat fat that I figured I was just such a fucking porker that normal structures weren’t enough to support me.

Thanks, adults in my life, for making a five year old so self conscious about her weight that she assumed wooden porches couldn’t support her immensity. That was totally awesome of you.

Armed with that baggage, I’ve wondered seriously if a Vespa was the right vehicle for me. Could it support me without the seat springs breaking? I mean, just because countless bicycle seats have withstood my girth doesn’t mean that a Vespa seat would! Would the motor be able to ferry both the weight of the scooter AND myself? A slightly more sensible question and one, it seems, with an answer of yes. Existing Vespas are pretty powerful and could totally tote me around. Even if I had groceries or books or cinder blocks as cartage.

So what’s up with these ads?

The tagline, if you can’t read it (and if you click on the small images they link to larger images) says “The most powerful Vespa ever.” Uhm. Ok? So that means… superfat people can now use them? Fatty Boom Batties can now balance precariously upon a Vespa and tootle away to freedom, the Vespa able to transport even their planetary bulk?

Or are these ads aimed at slender people. “Imagine! If someone who weighed THIS much can use our Vespa and have it still be able to go… won’t YOU go even faster? Oh, the power!”

I don’t know.

The people photographed in these ads are out doing stuff and living life. There’s a very well dressed fat man at a bar or something. He looks like a successful businessman. There’s trendily dressed fat woman with amazing shoes at what looks to be a trendy specialty grocery store. She’s so confident in herself that her big fat arms (OH NOES WOBBLY BITS) are bare. There’s a snuggling couple gazing out at a body of water… a lake? the sea? he’s well dressed. So is she, although exposing more skin… fat wobbly skin that hasn’t been photoshopped and smoothed to high heaven.

These fat folks look like people I know. They look, further, like me… only more stylish, more trendy, more affluent. This is a life I could aspire to. They are alive and social and having fun. And it’s rare that you see fat people in advertising doing so. So is this a positive ad? Is this an ad targeting an under served fat demographic? Or is it a form of fat shaming: “You are so fucking fat that you need a special, extra powerful engine to haul you wheezily along, lardy.” “It doesn’t matter how much money you have or how nicely you dress, you are so deathly fat that normal conveyances cannot handle your gargantuan bulk.” “You are an outsider and don’t belong.”

I’m inclined to think it’s the latter. That, like the Brazilian Yogurt Ads that use beautiful, sexy fat women shot in artistic and beautiful ways, the thrust of the ad is that fat don’t fly. It’s not sexy, it’s not appealing, and it’s not normal. If you’re fat, you’re an undesirable freak and nobody wants anything to do with you. Go eat some fucking yogurt and then get on your Rascal and be fat someplace else.