Tag Archives: modeling

Why is it okay to put 16-year-olds in lingerie ads?

This is Gisele Bundchen at age 16 in a Macy’s catalogue:


(Via Buzzfeed)

This makes me extremely uncomfortable. I think it’s a pretty twisted world we live in when a fashion director dresses a teenager up in fishnets and a velvet bra to try to convince other women (presumably Macy’s catalogue-receiving women in their 30s and 40s) to buy this underwear.

Selling clothes is always an exercise in aspiration. Wear this and your thighs might look slimmer! Wear this and hunky men will drape themselves all over you. Wear this and you’ll want to go to the gym! Wear this and other women will admire your style! Whatever you want to happen will happen if you only for the love of God buy these clothes!

What’s so bizarre about using underage models is that the aspiration you create in the minds of your consumer is impossible to fulfill. 30-year-olds will never look 16 again. Instead of building a vision about looking and being your “best self” (what brands like Dove do with campaigns like Real Beauty, manipulative in its own way), this ad creates impossible dreams. And what strange dreams to have!

See? Ann Taylor uses extremely attractive but age-appropriate models

See? Ann Taylor uses extremely attractive but age-appropriate models

You would never use a 16-year-old to sell a power suit, right? Because women who want to look powerful don’t want to look juvenile. They want to look attractive, and sleek, and put-together, but nobody aims for “junior prom” when they want to rock an interview.

But when you’re trying to look sexy (as anyone who is purchasing fishnets and velvet pushup bras likely is), looking youthful is part of the aspiration. We’ve conflated “adolescent” with “sexy” for so long that it seems natural for a teenager to model underwear the way it would never seem natural to put her in a skirt suit. That’s kind of scary, and we’re still doing it.

I feel like every party here is wronged in some way, the 16-year-old model who’s been tarted up, the rest of 16-year-olds who don’t look like this model and are intimidated, the 39-year-olds flipping through this catalogue and wondering why a girl their daughter’s age is being used to sell them underwear, any men who might catch a glimpse and lust after her, however briefly, not knowing she’s not even legal, teenaged boys who end up with bizarre expectations of what women wear under their clothes (hint, it’s usually not this).

Who wins? Macy’s, probably, if this ad sold a lot of tights. Sigh. They wouldn’t do it if it didn’t work.

Related Post: But how old is she really?

Related Post: Bras for 9-year-olds


Filed under Advertising, Body Image, Gender, Sex

Model Behavior and a Train of Thought

MODEL-MORPHOSIS - T Magazine Blog - NYTimes.com

Model Hannah Gaby Odiele for Marc Jacobs

Confession: There are few things I find more engrossing than model “before and afters.” There’s a whole genre of this stuff, with variations like “Celebrities without makeup!” and “They have cellulite too!” and “Stars: They’re Just Like Us!” and I can’t pull my eyes away.

The example above is from the New York Times Magazine in a series called Model-Morphosis (It’s interactive! Yippee!) but here are a few other examples from the blog I Waste So Much Time

Supermodels without makeup.-2

Supermodels without makeup.-1

Supermodels without makeup.I think the word “engrossed” is the right one. It’s not “fun” per se, to sit and parse the appearances of beautiful people looking less beautiful, but I do find it some twisted combination of mesmerizing, fascinating, horrifying, reassuring, and enlightening. I see pictures like this and in quick succession I think:

a) Wow, she is not attractive

b) That was mean. Stop judging.

c) But like, really, that is all make-up and hair and lighting and photoshop…

d) Maybe I could look like that with make-up and hair and lighting and photoshop?

e) Hold up. Why do I want to look like that?

f) This is fucked. Why is our standard of beauty so far outside the spectrum of what actual humans look like?

g) I want no part of this.

h) Except… look how much bigger her eyes looked like when they added mascara…

i) Maybe I should invest in some good mascara

j) But why are big eyes a good thing? What’s wrong with the size of my eyes?


l) Except not as perfect as they are… with make-up and big hair and lighting and photoshop…

m) But if people don’t know about the make-up and hair and lighting and photoshop…

n) Then they just think that these women are abnormally beautiful,

o) Which they are not, because they are just normal looking humans.

p) What does it mean if we think these women are normal?

q) It means we start doing things like shaving our jaw bones

r) and getting eyelash extensions

s) and injecting collagen into our lips.

t) That shit is scary.

u) So…maybe it’s okay if everyone knows that this not what they really look like?

v) So… maybe these “before and afters” are actually kind of an educational tool?

w) We should teach media literacy in schools. There should be warning labels on magazine covers.

x) I hope I don’t have daughters

y) That’s a really sad thing to say.

z) I hate everyone and we are doomed.

Related Post: Average-sized fitness models. Who knew?

Related Post: How old is she really? Underage models.


Filed under Advertising, Body Image, Gender, Media

Sunday Scraps 84

1. GENDER: Watch this Time interview with Casey Legler, a woman who works as a male model, and try not to drool.

2. BOOKS: A new anthology, My Ideal Bookshelf, creates colorful portraits of authors’ and celebrities’ book collections, includes David Sedaris and James Franco.

3. SUFFRAGE: Great collection from Sociological Images of vintage anti-suffrage ads.

4. WRITING: Chicago author Megan Stielstra on the stresses of new motherhood and the surprising support from a stranger.

5. ASTRONAUTS: Super sweet letters from astronaut Jerry Linenger to his 1-year-old son while he spent three months at a space station.

6. CHILDHOOD: What does a child’s bedroom look like? Depends on where they live, and damn, the range is pretty intense. Mother Jones has some examples. 

Related Post: Sunday 83: Stewart, language in the NYT, Mormons on the campaign trail

Related Post: Sunday 82: Kevin Durant, Maddow nails it, NYMag cover photos


Filed under Books, Chicago, Gender, Media, Politics, Really Good Writing by Other People

S(Mon)day Scraps 37

1. BEY: From the Hairpin comes Beyonce song titles reimagined as thesis titles for women’s studies majors: “Check on It”: The Gendered Dynamics of Male Spectatorship in Urban Public Spaces

2. SEX ED: This NYT piece deserves it’s own post, which it will get, but in the meantime… read it. Right now. It’s revolutionary. Who knew there was another way to teach sex-ed that didn’t involve the repetition of “abstinence,” and that also didn’t just place condoms in an envelope in the nurse’s office.

3. CUMMING: Bahahahaha. Alan Cumming. Cologne. Enjoy.

4. ANTM: Remember Fatima? She’s one of the few ANTM alums who actually made a modeling career out of that disaster of a television show. NYMag has an interview.

5. LETTERS: “I worry about women.” She said, “Don’t.” Letters of Note has a super cool missive from Kurt Vonnegut.

6. QUEST: Mother Jones interviews Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson on Jimmy Fallon, being the child of musicians, and turning 40 in the hip-hop business.

Related Post: Sunday 36 = pixie cuts, science tats, do nothing for 2 minutes.

Related Post: Sunday 35 = instant messaging cats, lady boxers, Magic


Filed under Art, Books, Gender, Hollywood, Media, Really Good Writing by Other People, Sex

But How Old Is She Really?

This is Thylane Loubry Blondeau and she’s been causing quite the controversy. She’s a French child model and she’s 10.

This is Haley Clauson, she was fifteen when this photo shoot took place. It’s now on Urban Outfitter t-shirts.

I can’t find this model’s name, but she’s 18. This is for Roger David’s clothing line New Love Club.

The Roger David ad was banned this week  because it “‘inappropriately depicted a young girl in a sexualised manner”. Um… yeah. It does. And so do those others. And so do most advertisements these days.

This Roger David debacle would suggest that the actual age of the model isn’t the issue, because she’s legal. It’s the intention of making her look younger that crosses a seemingly arbitrary line. So here’s my question, where is that line exactly? How is the fifteen-year-old with her legs splayed okay, but the eighteen-year-old with “Slave” tattooed on her shoulder not? What about the 10 year old making pouty-face?

I know I’m getting prudish in my old age because I huff and puff at Gossip Girl billboards. When a Victoria’s Secret writhe-a-thon comes on before 9pm a big part of me wants to hurl popcorn at the TV and shriek “What about the chiiiiildren?” I don’t mind sexy ads. In fact, I totally dig sexy ads. I just don’t like them in front of less-discerning audiences, like ones who don’t know what “Photoshop” means and can’t spell “misogyny.” I also don’t like them when the perceived sexiness is about girlhood instead of womanhood.

Roger David’s PR people said this in response to the ban: “The relevant audience for this advertisement is young men. Roger David strongly believes that young men would relate to this image, and would not see it as shocking or exploitative.” Hey Roger David PR guy, do you not see that it’s a problem when young men (or women) see images of woman intentionally aged-down in sexulized contexts? Yes, she’s actually 18, but when you start seeing an 18-year-old who looks 14 as “sexy” it warps your standards of what, and how old, real-world sexiness looks like.

I don’t necessarily have an answer. At the very least, sexualized images used for advertising should adhere to age laws we use to regulate who can dance in a strip club. What’s qualifies as a sexualized image? See Potter Stewart.

Related Post: Here’s the wrong answer (one of them anyway) about why teenage girls dress “like prostitutes.”

Related Post: Oy. Let’s hope these Tangent models are 18.


Filed under Advertising, Gender, Sex

Sunday Scraps 24

1. CHICAGO: @Astro_Ron has been tweeting pictures from outer space. This is Chicago.

2. JOB PROSPECTS: For Lack of a Better Comic tackles the predicament of an English major in this job market.

3. DOMINATRIX: It’s fun to hear Terry Gross say dirty words. Also, this NPR interview with former dominatrix, current college professor Melissa Febos is super interesting.

4. PRETTY BOY: Autostraddle has a piece about the rise of gender bending model superstar Andrej Pejic. He’s got the Bardot look, minus the boobs.

5. RAPE JOKES: As if I needed another reason not to see Horrible Bosses, Feministing itemizes the ridiculous quantity of rape jokes. Male rape and sexual harrassment are hilaaaarious.

6. WRITE: Fun times… plug in a sample of your writing to I Write Like and it’ll tell you who you’re copying. Apparently, I write like Cory Doctorow.

Related Post: Last Sunday

Related Post: Two Sundays Ago


Filed under Art, Chicago, Gender, Hollywood, Media, Sex