Sunday, October 28, 2007

Halloween costume ad ~ Elena Funk

It is that time of year again where bad is good and candy is the only sugary thing people want to eat. However, Halloween has turned this innocent dress-up game into what could be considered a sexual fantasy. While updating my Facebook profile I found I was bombarded by ads of scantily clad women promoting a particular Halloween costume vendor. I have had my share of fun dressing up for this holiday, I thought the manner in which this costume was being promoted was disgusting:

The woman in the ad is represented as a sexy corrupt cop complete with handcuffs, evidence bag, and cleavage to spare. That a miniature story line is used in the ad for the costume is all the more disturbing. The company is using this woman’s “perfect body” to sell the costume to a nation of women that mostly do not fit this figure. Even the costume’s brand name suggests how few women could wear this costume and appear as the model in the ad: Dream Girl.

I find this ad rather offensive to women, particularly those that are members of police units. Taking a look at the size chart for this costume I think it is saying to women that if you do not fit within those parameters you are not good or sexy enough to wear it. I saw no plus size models for any of the sexy costumes advertised. This ad would be particularly offensive to policewomen because I am sure they have enough sexist issues to deal with in a unit. That this portrays a female cop accepting bribes could make it difficult for co-workers to trust and respect her. I feel there is this cliché idea that all female cops are sexy sirens and this ad fuels that idea. The kind of ideology that surrounds this ad is that only women who fit into the body type portrayed are sexy and should be “permitted” to show a good deal of skin for Halloween. Any and all models used for plus size costumes on the company’s website do not deviate from the “perfect body” used in the corrupt cop ad. I did find one model that may have been a plus size model, but it was difficult to tell what was beneath the bed sheet of a Cleopatra costume that was draped on her.

I think this brings to light the line between sexy and sexist in regards to this ad. Sure, it is cute to dress as something or someone that a person could not wear every day, but sending the message that only certain women should do this is sexist. There are plus size clothing makers in this nation, why not have them help costume companies design costumes that are flattering for every type of body? Can a woman of larger size than the models this company uses not be some man or woman’s Dream Girl? I think when an advertisement targets only a specific body type for its product that crosses the line from sexy into sexist.

This ad is anti-feminist because it portrays female government workers in a negative light, gives set parameters for what is considered sexy, and lacks the use of models diverse in size and color. The story line of the corrupt, bribe-accepting female cop puts a negative light on professional policewomen. All ads for sexy costumes have the same size parameters whereas many of the plus size costumes that are almost that same thing as the sexy costumes lack the word “sexy” in the costume title. In all my searching within the website I failed to find any women of color being used as models for the costumes and the only plus size model shown was wearing a large sheet that covered her entire body.

I think advertisements like this affect the body image of girls and women alike. Similar images are used not only on the internet, but on television as well where many youth spend their time. Ads such as the one thrown in front of me can make women feel they have to be “sexy” for Halloween or that they are only sexy if they can fit into the Dream Girl costume. The complete lack of diverse models could also make some girls and women of various size and color think they are not good enough to wear these sexy costumes. The advertising company should realize that if they used more images that portrayed the true makeup of American society that they may actually sell more of their product. I think women everywhere would appreciate the availability of a fun Halloween costume they can feel comfortable in.

In protest of any widely unattainable Dream Girl image people can refuse to support the sale of the product or suggest to the company that the images used should change. Perhaps getting a petition together and sending it to a company executive could help rid the media of the “perfect body” image. Change will not occur immediately for as the saying goes, “sex sells.” If people can let advertisement agencies know how much more they could sell if their products were modeled by women of all shapes and color a change that many women have been looking for may begin to happen.

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