At least that’s what their latest ad featuring Sofia Vergara would have you believe. But this message is delivered in such a seemingly non-threatening, girl-talky way that the more sinister side of it is easily swallowed. Like the razor blade in the Halloween candy the mean neighborhood kid always told you you’d find in your plastic pumpkin.
I know Ms. Vergara is almost impossible to find offensive; she’s funny, cheerful, and just so damn likeable. And advertisers clearly realize this. The marketable combination of sex appeal and likability has her pushing everything from Pepsi to her own line at Kmart. I also know how many times we’ve all heard that advertising is chipping slowly away at our self esteem and poisoning the minds of our increasingly eating disorder-plagued youth, and you’re probably sick of hearing it. But hear me out on this one. This ad particularly bothers me because it manages to use one simple statement to try and make female viewers feel unattractive, uncomfortable, and even ashamed.
As seen here, the ad opens with her exclaiming, “Are you crazy?! I would never go out without my Covergirl! I want to look natural, not naked.”
Sounds innocent enough, especially when said with those wide eyes and catching smile. But let’s pick that statement apart a little. First, there’s the obvious implication that if even US Weekly’s “most desirable woman of 2012” doesn’t think she’s pretty enough to leave the house without make-up, we average humanoids certainly must not be. And that’s a double edged sword, because not only does it make us self-conscious, but it justifies any self-consciousness we already have by assuring us that even one of the most beautiful women in the world isn’t comfortable in her own skin.
Also, there are a few majorly loaded words being used here:
Crazy: Women are sick of being called crazy. It’s one of the words used most often by men when they’re trash talking an ex, fighting with a partner, or making a joking generalization about the female of the species. It’s a word that tells us we aren’t being taken seriously.
Naked: Being seen naked in public is almost as familiar a universal nightmare as that one where you show up for that algebra test without having studied. Plus, women are especially self-conscious of our bodies, and here we are being told yet again (on a few different levels) that our naked selves are not only unfit to be seen without some sort of alteration, but that being our naked selves, just as we are, is unnatural. Whoa. What’s naked if not completely natural?
These sort of messages and this sort of ad are obviously not new. We have already internalized these ideas, and it’s an endless, cyclical chicken-and-egg argument as to whether society reflects the media or the media reflect society. I simply wanted to send a reminder to, every once in a while, be conscious of the messages that are being absorbed into your brain. But to be truthful, even as I write this I feel a little twinge of guilt at my own hypocrisy, because as I sit here insisting that we are beautiful and natural just as we are, I am living proof of the success of messages and ads just like the one I spent this post bitching about; do I go out without my Covergirl Mascara? Nope. What are you, crazy?
(Originally published on thePRfectworld.com)