It would suddenly seem that consumer businesses are in a race to break down social barriers by tackling some interesting social issues in their advertising. I have to say it’s beyond fascinating to watch TV commercials go from the perfect family making the perfect pizza pull to Gillette attacking “toxic masculinity” in all its alleged dysfunctional glory.
To say it’s a marketing “paradigm shift” would be the most massive of understatements.
Frist, I’m sure those ad agencies crunched every last number in an effort to make sure those challenging ads would appeal to their target market. Gillette certainly ain’t out to commit corporate suicide.
And second, I’m also sure the theory is, whatever offended customers those companies might lose will be more than offset by the millions – or perhaps billions – of dollars in free publicity those ads generate from the inevitable press coverage.
So, if you walk into the Batavia, Illinois, Target and look up, you won’t see a series of statuesque models with perfect bodies in perfect poses somewhat stuffed into perfectly fitting semi-racy bras. Instead, you’ll see a slew of “regular” women of all colors, shapes, and particularly sizes, modelling “regular” underwear as depicted in the photo below.
And it’s really kinda cool because most of us don’t fit into that Chrissy Teigen and John Legend mold, and to continue to foist that kind of rare size 6 perfection on people is exactly why so many young women develop eating disorders.
The target (pun intended) should be to be reasonably happy and healthy, not being thin and miserable.
Not to be outdone, Gillette quickly topped Target by featuring an action shot of obese bikini clad model Anna O’Brien kicking it in the surf in their most recent Venus razor promotion. The unique ad features the tag line “Go out and slay the day.”
With 41 percent of American women falling into the medically obese category, it wasn’t much of a gamble on Gillette’s part. And that’s especially true when you consider how Twitter, the blogosphere, and the press absolutely lit up with some folks applauding the razor company for their forward thinking, while others accused them of promoting morbid obesity.
All I can say is, per the great P. T. Barnum, Gillette clearly believes there’s no such thing as bad publicity because they summarily sloughed off their legion of critics by declaring:
Venus is committed to representing beautiful women of all shapes, sizes and skin types because ALL types of beautiful skin deserve to be shown. We love Anna because she lives out loud and loves her skin no matter how the ‘rules’ say she should display it.
Though the obesity health risks are abundantly clear, I think Gillette is onto something in the sense that our physical appearance should never determine our well-being. I’ve said it before, if you really want to change something, accept and start with exactly where you are right now.
So, while I certainly fear for Ms. O’Brien’s long-term health, you can’t help but admire her contagious joie de vivre. But here’s the thing! What about plus-sized male models? Shouldn’t they be celebrated, too?
A female friend made the excellent point that, while we’re celebrating the female form in all its glorious shapes and sizes, the same can’t be said for men. She added that, with some clear exceptions, even overweight women won’t give an overweight man a second glance.
So, where are all the gleeful commercials featuring heavyset guys frolicking in the forest clad only in their boxer shorts? How about a Gillette spot with three plus-size men cheerfully shaving each other’s backs? Though I’m not sure exactly what it is, perhaps they could take on toxic femininity, too.
Men have feelings too, you know!
In no way am I trying to proffer the notion that overweight men are suddenly facing a furious feminine persecution. But especially when you consider how women like to believe they take the spiritual and moral high ground, it is a fascinating proposition to consider.