In recent years it’s felt like we’re making some strides with how women are portrayed in advertising.
But an email that landed in my inbox yesterday made me start to doubt that, at least initially.
It made me flash back to 2015, when a huge billboard portraying a waaaay underfed (and likely massively photo-shopped) woman in a bikini appeared in New York’s Times Square and on ads in London’s Tube stations promoting a protein drink powder…
The ad started a backlash against the body-shaming ad, generating thousands of names on petitions to take the billboards and ads down.
And it spurred on a flurry of ads from Dove and other brands that answered back with images of realistic-looking women of all shapes and sizes saying that every body is “beach body ready’.
If my high school English teacher Mrs. Drake–from whom I took an “Images of Women in Literature” class my senior year–could have seen this ad, she would have freaked out. The unnatural stance of the woman just in itself is portraying her as a sex object.
And while we definitely see ads all the time that still do this–with women and men–there’s definitely more awareness by major advertisers not to step into the same land mines this company did 7 years ago.
So when I got an email in my inbox yesterday with the following subject line, I found myself thinking, “Not today, Satan!”
Personally, I hate the idea that anyone who’s overweight is that way because they’re a lazy “couch potato”. There are all sorts of reasons why someone is overweight.
There are fit people who exercise regularly who are overweight. There are women bouncing back from pregnancy or dealing with hormone imbalance during menopause. There are hundreds of millions of people with thyroid disorders that affect their metabolism.
I could go on, but you see my point. It’s not just because you’re lying around on the couch all the time. Using this kind of presumptive phrasing is making the mistake of insulting your prospect.
So let’s just say I had my hackles up before I even opened the email and read it. And when I did, here’s what I found…
Okay, fine, we’re going to be equal opportunity-objectification… Mrs. Drake might be happy about that I suppose. But I think they’re showing pics of a woman and a man because they want to call both types of prospects out and not leave men out.
And while, as a 50-something woman, I’d love to look like that babe on the beach, I know it’s probably not realistic. So I’m a little on the fence about using pics of people who are likely 30+ years younger than the target prospect.
However, with weight loss, a great deal of irrational and emotional behavior comes into play when responding to advertising. So let’s just say the prospect’s “dream” is pictured accurately here and read on…