Our Relationship To Our Bodies Is Changing And Advertisers Know It
I fall into the outer edges of the millennials. The so-called “Old Millennial”. This is important to mention because the targeted marketing I receive is tailored to this millennial cohort. And through this target marketing, I’ve been learning some pretty amazing lessons.
With increased intensity lately, the ads that have been furnishing my timeline follow a particular set of themes: Diversity, and what I’d like to call the “Desanitizing of Women’s Bodies.” I use the word ‘desanitizing’ not because those bodies were ‘sanitary’ before, and are now ‘dirty’, but because suddenly these ads are showing us bodies in ways that were previously (implicitly, quietly) considered ‘grotesque’. Suddenly, women’s bodies have hair, they get actual bloody periods (wait, no blue liquid! What sorcery is this?), they come in all colors, shapes, sizes and ages. They have ripples, lines, and even PORES.
Let’s look at a few of these ads before we talk about what this shift means. Here are two ads, one by the Dollar Shave Club, and one by Billie:
What’s so powerful about these ads? Well, as Billie’s YouTube tagline states, “For the past 100 years, razor brands have pretended body hair doesn’t exist. Commercials show razors gliding over smooth, hairless legs. Strange, huh? Introducing Project Body Hair. A celebration of hair… wherever it is or isn’t”.
Until recently, all our beauty and personal hygiene ads focus on our ‘flaws’, but in particular cases, like when it comes to female body hair, it focuses on them by omitting them. Showing us with these ‘flaws’ eliminated. Body hair on women has been framed as being ‘grotesque’, and even without delving into the historical lineage of this, if we look at this idea objectively it’s simply strange.
Speaking off ‘grotesque’, this takes us to periods. Most ads for tampons and sanitary pads don’t show the offending items at all (because periods should be kept secret), displaying women smiling and jogging around, wearing light coloured outfits to indicate that their shameful blood will be well-contained and disguised. When the tampons and sanitary pads are shown, their ‘absorbency’ is illustrated using a strange blue liquid instead of (horror!) something resembling….actual blood. BECAUSE WE CAN’T POSSIBLY SEE BLOOD on TV right? Except…we do….when it emerges from almost every other orifice. And ads are now challenging this too.
Take this amazing ‘Blood Normal’ campaign from Libresse and Bodyform:
As this Bustle article states:
“Discomfort about menstrual blood has deep cultural roots that have led to the use of mystery blue liquid in menstrual hygiene product commercials. In many ways, we’re still carrying the consequences of ancient beliefs about menstruation…Menstruating people throughout human history have been ostracized, regarded as unclean, and forbidden from access to areas as diverse as religious institutions and their own households.”
With the tagline “Contrary to popular belief, women don’t bleed blue liquid, they bleed blood. Periods are normal. Showing them should be too”, ‘Blood Normal’ and correlated to this, ‘Live Fearless’, aim to challenge this menstrual blood taboo. Find out more about the awesome ‘Live Fearless’ education campaign right here.
Another major changing aspect of female representation in ads is diversity; diverse body shapes, colors, sizes, textures, and so on. The picture at the top of this blog is a case in point. From plus-size clothing brand Lane Bryant, it is part of their body confidence athletic ad campaign #ThisBody, released last year. Lane Bryant is one of many athletic-wear and fashion companies jumping on board the body-positive movement, and we love it.
Thinx period underwear is another great example. Haven’t heard of period underwear? Well, now you have:
Not sure how THINX would work for *you*?
Posted by Thinx on Monday, October 15, 2018
Another great video is by Knixwear, which actually shows a beautiful woman with her magnificent post-pregnancy tummy stretch marks that have long caused many of us shame and discomfort. Even though it’s a badge showing the amazing way we have given LIFE!
Women were asking for this bra – and now it’s here
The bra requested by 1000s of women is here: the Padded V-Neck. Perfectly comfortable, supportive, and flattering — and fits up to a G-cup
Posted by Knixwear on Thursday, October 18, 2018
There are so many more I could add here, but let’s talk about what this all MEANS. Well, first, I suspect it finally means advertisers are beginning to understand the ‘ever-elusive’ millennial consumer. Or perhaps advertising firms are now just full enough of millennial staff to finally have their messages on point? Regardless, what’s important here is this: swathes of articles have been written by business folk on how to figure out the millennial market, bemoaning the seemingly nonsensical spending patterns of Generation Y. Guess what, business folk? I think you are figuring it out. And it’s making me want to buy stuff that I may or may not need. But hey, it still makes me happy. Why does it make me happy? Why am I happy that corporations have found a way to effectively tempt me?
It’s not because I think these corporations care (or most of them at least, I’m sure some do). They are just being smart. It’s simple. It makes me happy because these ads are reflecting us back to ourselves. And I like what I’m seeing in that mirror. What I’m seeing in that mirror are women who want to challenge the way they have been taught to sanitize, monitor, and manipulate their bodies. The way they have been taught to hate their bodies and what their bodies do. They are showing us that as a society we are gradually and fiercely trying to love ourselves, and that’s freaking beautiful.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments. How do these ads make you feel? We love hearing from you.
But before you go, one disclaimer: I am not advertising these products. I have not researched their ethics on any level. I have not tested their products. I have not been asked by any of them to write about them. That is all. Hope you enjoyed!
Photo Source Credit: lanebryant/www.instagram.com