In the previous post Critiquing "Feminist" Marketing (Part 1), we compared the messages between a current Verizon ad and a Nike ad from the mid-'90s. While the overt messages inherent in ads that speak to women have changed over the years, so have the subliminal ones. Recent years have brought us more modern interpretations of the female experience, including its lice-ridden underbelly.
In the mid '00s, Dove began the "Campaign for Real Beauty". Early in the campaign, the FCC banned this "Pro-Age" ad because it apparently didn't conform to FCC regulations:
Holey rusted door, Batgirl! We have Victoria's Secret models parading their perfect bodies on stage, we have scantily-clad cheerleaders gyrating at every profession sporting event, and we have teen pop stars wiggling their advocation of adult sexuality to preteens, but Christ forbid that normal, older, fig-leafed women be visible on television. Ever.
Never mind that these older women are more "covered" than said models, cheerleaders, or pop-stars, and never mind that these older women are not parading, gyrating, or wiggling. Just know that a woman over the age of 25 who shows more than 8 square inches of exposed non-face, non-hand skin is so patently offensive to the US public that complaints provoked the FCC to use the grey areas in their guidelines to ban said ad.
What wasn't banned was the "Evolution" ad, and it's actually my favorite:
Even without the digital trickery, I'd look like a supermodel, too, if I had a team of hair and make-up professionals at my side every morning! While digesting this ad, considering it's wider implications, I held my breath waiting to see what was next.
Supplementing the "Evolution" ad, consider another mid-'00s video in which a digital artist transforms a normal-looking woman into a glamorous goddess thanks to the wonders of Photoshop (sorry for the pop-up ad on the video, just click the [x]):
I am particularly fond of the instant weight-loss and skin perfection. The hair extensions are a nice touch as well. Doubleplusgood on the removal of the spectacles. Compare the two pictures, and you could be forgiven for thinking that these women are sisters instead of the same person. Of particular angst to me is that the creator/poster of this video had so many requests for same that she posted links to tutorials showing aspiring digital artists how to accomplish these same tricks and pointed out where the eyelash brush can be downloaded. Instead of outrage, worship? Kill me.
In the next post we move further into why and how the cultural programming of impossible beauty standards works and the effects of same.