Wednesday, July 18, 2007

This woman is represented as a blow-up doll who has been deflated, i.e. all of the air has been let out. She has flaming red hair and is heavily made-up. Her mouth is heavily covered in bright red lipstick and is in an extremely open position. Her breasts and nipples are very visible. Her limbs are barely visible behind her. The woman/blow-up doll is entirely sexualized. Her mouth represents the lips of the vagina and her breasts are prominent. One could argue that the purple "clouds" are testicles and the white pro-plus box an erect penis ("picks you up") aimed at penetration. She becomes in the images nothing but a sexualized being, however an inert and dead one. The pro-plus will energize her to become a living/breathing but still highly sexualized being. In this way, she becomes the desired ideal "feminine" within the economy of gender-normative, heteropatriarchy.
I think this ad is highly sexist and offensive to women. It suggests that women are nothing but blow-up dolls. Blow-up dolls are sold in porno shops for men to use for sexual gratification. Instead of experiencing a live woman with agency and desires unique to herself, these men are purchasing a plastic version of womanhood which never says no, which never resist their sexual advances. The doll exists, frozen in patriarchal time, to be used/abused sexually. For an ad to reproduce this image is intensely problematic.
Further, the ad calls on the logic of patriarchal, capitalism. Women are not "good enough" just as they are. They need energy pills to be "better." Than they become the live sexual woman that men desire in patriarchy. Capitalism is constantly telling men, women and transpeople that they are not good enough, they need this product or that product to be better people: to be more attractive and more sexually desirable.
The ad is anti-feminist. it reduces women to a sexualized image and tells then that they must use drugs to be better women. Women do so much work as it is, but obviously they must do more because these energy pills will enable them to be even more productive. The ad states "pro+yourself." Why why isn't yourself alone good enough? Because they are trying to sell a product. In tiny print on the bottom it reads: always read the label.
As far as body image, I think many women would not take this ad seriously. They may even laugh at it. But ads are tricky and often affect people subconsciously. As said earlier, the blow-up doll represents an "ideal" even as we see it as absurd. There are women who are trying, through plastic surgery, starving themselves etc. to become similar to a blow-up doll.
I think there is a lot we can do to protest ads such as these. We can boycott the product. We can write to the company and tell them that we find their ads offensive to women and girls and demand that they use more feminist and female-friendly images. We can also use them as teachable moments: send them around via email and blog about them to help people know that these images are unacceptable.

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