Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Every Body

The basic principle of advertising aimed at women is to juxtapose a thin and beautiful young woman with whichever product, implication being that if you buy the product, you look like the picture Extrapolating from this, cynic that I am, I'm now inclined not to purchase anything mentioned here or here. I mean, we're of course all one Crest White Strip away from looking like the hot assistant Cerie on "30 Rock." In all seriousness, though, I get using women like this in entertainment and ads aimed at men, as well as in ads geared at women. But is there some non-commercial, service-journalism benefit to knowing which mascara a woman along these lines prefers? (And yes, I get that these things are all linked, and that a cabal of marketing and PR sorts are behind everything along these lines, ad or "content.") Do we have any reason to think the naturally beautiful are better at selecting artifice?

On the other end of the spectrum, maybe, is "My Body Gallery," a site that's being linked to from just about everywhere lately. The gist of it is, you put in your height and weight, as well as (if you so choose) stuff about dress size and which fruit most resembles your figure, and bam, you get a whole bunch of photos of women - often in their underwear - whose build resembles your own. If it were a fashion/style site - and I wish it were - it would come awfully close to Britta's ideal of a source of visual information about how different looks work on different builds. I already know what a woman with my build looks like in whichever state of undress, and would be more interested in seeing how the "skinny cargo" trend would work on me, without having to go allll the way to Uniqlo to try them on.

But instead, the site's aimed, if not inadvertently at the same audience as goes for "lad mags" that fall short of anything explicit, at women with body-image issues, women who think that any weight over X means fat, and who benefit from seeing that maybe if you're 5'10", 140 is actually slim. I suspect that the effect of the site is more to reassure tall women that wearing whichever dress size, being whichever weight, is compatible with being tiny width-wise. Meanwhile, short women already know that "tiny" numbers (dress size, weight) don't add up to Supermodel. In any case, a site like this, but that actually showed clothes, could be all kinds of useful.

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