"Advertising is the art of convincing people to spend money they don't have for something they don't need." – Will Rogers

Color Apartheid & Gender Polarization: Why Pink Stinks

Posted: November 30th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: change for the better, children, consumerism, corporate hypocrisy, hidden propaganda, KGOY, new markets, schizophrenic messages, sexism, toys | Tags: , | 3 Comments »

"Snow Queen Palace" from the Early Learning Centre

The UK Telegraph recently ran an article about Pink Stinks, an organization founded by my friends Abi and Emma Moore, that “challenges the culture of pink which invades every aspect of girls’ lives.”

Pink Stinks just launched a campaign against Early Learning Centre, asking the toy retailer to stop pinkification and gender-stereotyping of children’s toys.

Some interesting quotes from the Telegraph article:

The campaign has been backed by Ed Mayo, the former government “consumer tsar” and author of Consumer Kids, How Big Business is Grooming our Children for Profit.

He said: “There may be worse things to worry about, but I feel this colour apartheid is one of the things that sets children on two separate railway tracks. One leads to higher pay, and higher status and one doesn’t.”


“Why on earth do girls need to have a globe in pink?” said Mr Mayo. “Does it ultimately lead to the 15 per cent pay gap suffered by women further down the line?. That’s far too simplistic, but I feel gender roles are becoming polarised far too early on.”

Some fascinating trivia about the color pink and child play:

[B]efore World War II pink was more usually associated with boys, while blue – traditionally the colour of the Virgin Mary – was linked with girls.


The Telegraph: “Pink toys ‘damaging’ for girls” (full article)

Pink Stinks : The Campaign for Real Role Models (official site)

Follow Pinks Stinks on Twitter

Was She or Wasn’t She? Demi Moore and the Controversial W Cover

Posted: November 21st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: airbrushing, body, censorship, corporate hypocrisy, exploitation, hidden propaganda, image manipulation, media, print, schizophrenic messages, self-image, twitter, women's magazines | 2 Comments »


From Jezebel.com:

Although Demi Moore has denied that her W cover was dramatically Photoshopped to accidentally remove part of her hip, a photographer who also noticed it is calling bullshit… to the tune of $5,000.

Following controversy about her body proportions on the current W cover, Demi Moore posted the following message on Twitter:


With a link to the following image:


Professional photographer Antony Citrano reacted to this post by saying:

Whether or not her hip was botched, I do not believe for a moment that the image Demi posted yesterday [on Twitter] is the original shot. If she’s aware of that – and I expect she is – it’s irresponsible (and silly) of her to make that assertion.So, I’ll see her move and raise her $5,000: if the shot she posted yesterday is really the unretouched original, I will donate $5,000 to a charity of her choosing.

Eagerly awaiting the continuation of this saga…

Full post on Jezebel: “Photographer Bets $5,000 On Demi Moore W Cover Retouching

And the Award for Most Hypocritical Ad Agency Goes To…

Posted: November 18th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: adbusting, advertising, body, change for the better, corporate hypocrisy, discrimination, exploitation, objectification, schizophrenic messages, self-image, TV commercials | 1 Comment »

These awful, über-sexist Reebok EasyTone ads were conceived by the ad agency DDB Chicago:

Now, if you go to DDB’s official website you will notice some interesting quotes:


(Who We Are > Roots)

Respect for Our World

As influential communicators, DDB is in a position to use creativity as a force for good. As Bill Bernbach so eloquently put it, “All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society. We can vulgarize that society. We can brutalize it. Or we can help lift it onto a higher level.

(emphasis mine)

Interesting. Could you watch the commercials one more time, keeping in mind the above statement? Don’t you notice a huge disconnect?

To complain to DDB for the aforementioned ads you can contact Jeff Swystun, DDB Chief Communications Officer : Jeff.Swystun@ddb.com or address something to him, in 140 characters or less, to his Twitter account: @JeffSwystun

Body Outlaws

Posted: July 11th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: body, corporate hypocrisy, exploitation, hidden propaganda, research, schizophrenic messages, self-image, skin | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Last night I had dinner with a couple of friends. Christine, one of them, had just returned from New York and brought me back a book called “Body Outlaws – Rewriting the Rules of Beauty and Body Image,” a collection of frank, powerful, and sometimes humorous essays about self-image.


I started reading passages from it on the subway on my way home. Carolyn Mackler’s “Memoirs of a (sorta) Ex-Shaver” – about women’s travails with body hair – made a strong impression on me, because the ultimate message is very close to the thesis of The Illusionists.

Here’s my favorite passage:

Why had body hair become such a nemesis for women? It poses no health risks. It is not hygienic to remove; it is not cleansing to shave. Rather, the complications arise during the eradication: cuts, infections, rashes, ingrown hairs, dry skin, burning. Is this hairless ideal yet another variation on the tune of ‘let’s take the best (boobs, curves in some places, hair in very few places) and leave the rest (hips, curves in other places, hair in lots of other places)’? Or is it: ‘Let’s make women look like 8-year-olds so we can treat them as such’? Or is it: ‘If women can fill up their extra hours shaving and obsessing about their bodies, then they won’t have spare time to plot world takeover’? Or maybe it’s: ‘Women are so grossly overpaid and just don’t spend enough on pads, tampons, pantyliners, Ibuprofen, shampoos, conditioners, deodorants, that we should coax them to buy razors, waxes, creams and bleaches.’ A-ha, it’s probably: ‘How about setting another unattainable ideal for women so they will always fall short of the mark.’ I mean, what are women if they’re not feeling insecure about something or another?

Thank you for the wonderful book, Christine!

Link: Body Outlaws on Amazon.com

Sprint #FAIL

Posted: May 20th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: advertising, corporate hypocrisy, discrimination, hidden propaganda, internet, media, schizophrenic messages, sexism | Tags: , | 1 Comment »

Slate magazine recently launched Double X, a blog devoted to women’s issues, which feels like an hybrid of Jezebel (for its sass) and Feministing (for its feminist consciousness); The New York Times wrote an insightful article about the blog launch here.

I have been thoroughly enjoying this new site – so imagine my surprise when, this morning, I stumbled upon this ad from Sprint (the U.S. telecommunications company) on an article about Suprime Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (notice the top banner):


It reads: “Plastic surgeries happening in the U.S.: 31″ … “Videos uploaded on sprint phones: 459″

A page reload yielded a similar ad about the # of “spray tans sold in the U.S.”

Plastic surgery? Spray tans? I understand the importance of niche marketing, but why is it that I have to witness obnoxious, stereotypical ads on a progressive site with a feminist slant? Am I the only one to notice a disconnect? Bah.

Scarlett Johansson: “The Skinny”

Posted: April 15th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: body, change for the better, dieting, fashion, inspiring women, media, print, schizophrenic messages, self-image, women's magazines | Tags: , , , | No Comments »


Scarlett Johansson just wrote an article for the Huffington Post, speaking out about the media’s obsession over celebrities’ weight loss (and gain):

Every time I pass a newsstand, the bold yellow font of tabloid and lifestyle magazines scream out at me: “Look Who’s Lost It!” “They Were Fabby and Now They’re Flabby!” “They Were Flabby and Now They’re Flat!” We’re all aware of the sagas these glossies create: “Look Who’s Still A Sea Cow After Giving Birth to Twins!” Or the equally perverse: “Slammin’ Post Baby Beach Bodies Just Four Days After Crowning!”

According to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA), as many as 10 million females and 1 million males living in the US are fighting a life and death battle with anorexia or bulimia. I’m someone who has always publicly advocated for a healthy body image and the idea that the media would maintain that I have lost an impossible amount of weight by some sort of “crash diet” or miracle workout is ludicrous. I believe it’s reckless and dangerous for these publications to sell the story that these are acceptable ways to looking like a “movie star.” It’s great to get tips on how to lead a healthier lifestyle, but I don’t want some imaginary account of “How She Did It!” I get into and stay in shape by eating a proper diet and maintaining a healthy amount of exercise. The press should be held accountable for the false ideals they sell to their readers regarding body image — that’s the real weight of the issue.

(emphasis mine)

Full article here.

Funny Ha-Ha or Just Plain Lame? (Vanity UNfair)

Posted: March 6th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: body, corporate hypocrisy, discrimination, media, men, new markets, objectification, print, schizophrenic messages, self-image, sexism, women's magazines | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

Entertainment Weekly’s blog has an interesting post about the latest issue of Vanity Fair.

Judd Apatow’s funny boys — Seth Rogen, Jason Segel, and Jonah Hill — “recreate” the sorta-famous Scarlett Johansson/Keira Knightley nude photo shoot for Vanity Fair this month, with Paul Rudd playing the role of the creepily lurking Tom Ford. Except, of course, they’re wearing nude body stockings. Because, of course, we wouldn’t really want to objectify them. It’s supposed to be funny, see.


The post’s author goes on to discuss the issue of female comedians and the debate on whether or not women can be funny. And the issue that some celebrated female comedians, who have recently become household names and received lots of acclaim (Tina Fey in primis) have actually been featured in Vanity Fair, wearing next to nothing and snapped in overtly sexy poses.


The post concludes:

So that leaves us with this: Men being objectified is so silly as to be hilarious, but it’s better if funny women are also hot. Or maybe it just leaves us to conclude that Vanity Fair has a lot of conflicted feelings to work out in magazine therapy. What do you think? Would you like to see the Apatow crew baring all? Would it be as funny a parody if female comedians did it?

(emphasis mine)

Read the full article here – highly recommended.

I had yet to write about the issue of female comedians, so this is the perfect opportunity. Something that terribly saddened me was the recent Vanity Fair issue (yeah, again, same culprit) with Tina Fey on its cover.

What does a hardworking, funny, brilliant – yet average looking – woman have to do to be taken seriously, get better and better assignments, and eventually be openly embraced by the mainstream? But of course, she needs a makeover!




And then, after the makeover is complete, she needs to show off her Most Important Assets.



D01 v3 Lifeline Fey 01

Could the Tina Fey of the “before” photos ever been featured on the cover of Vanity Fair, just as she was?

Pregnant pause.


Did it take you more than a nanosecond to come up with the answer “of course not”?

Because that is the obvious truth.

Because a female comedian cannot be appreciated just for her brains.

On the other hand, these two beauties (first on the far left and the guy between Seth Rogen and Paul Rudd) got a golden ticket to a Vanity Fair cover:


An Egregious Example of Corporate Hypocrisy, Part II : Barbie dolls

Posted: February 21st, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: advertising, children, consumerism, corporate hypocrisy, hidden propaganda, KGOY, new markets, PSA, schizophrenic messages, toys, TV commercials | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Last October, I wrote a post unmasking Dove’s corporate hypocrisy and cynicism.

Today, I discovered yet another example of duplicity, this time from Mattel & Barbie dolls.

Watch this video:

And then this one:


Never Perfect: A Must See Documentary

Posted: February 20th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: body, cosmetic surgery, film, health, media, print, schizophrenic messages, self-image, subliminal advertising, women's magazines | Tags: , , , , , , , , | No Comments »


The synopsis:

NEVER PERFECT explores the complex journey of a young Vietnamese-American woman’s struggle with popular perceptions of beauty and body image as she fights the stigma of racial self-hatred in her decision to undergo cosmetic surgery.

Watch the film’s trailer here.

(Thanks for the suggestion, Mike!)

Freida Pinto – Lightened Up

Posted: February 13th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: airbrushing, censorship, corporate hypocrisy, discrimination, hidden propaganda, image manipulation, media, print, racism, schizophrenic messages, subliminal advertising | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

via Jezebel:


Did Vanity Fair whitewash Slumdog Millionaire‘s Freida Pinto in the March issue? If only India didn’t have a history of skin bleaching.