10.11.2009

things change (unless they don't)

Late last month, Xeni Jardin at Boing Boing set off something of an internet brouhaha when he blogged the Ralph Loren ad below (with the brilliant title, "Ralph Lauren Opens New Outlet Store in the Uncanny Valley") as an example of a particularly egregious Photoshop disaster. As it made its way across the internets, it also became the latest in a long series of examples of the way that companies that market products to women promote entirely unachievable standards of feminine "beauty."



Ralph Lauren's response? A legal threat, via a DMCA takedown notice to Boing Boing's ISP (which wisely declined, based on the position that this was classic fair use). Cory Doctorow followed up with a post in which he said, in part:
So, to Ralph Lauren, GreenbergTraurig, and PRL Holdings, Inc: sue and be damned. Copyright law doesn't give you the right to threaten your critics for pointing out the problems with your offerings. You should know better. And every time you threaten to sue us over stuff like this, we will:

a) Reproduce the original criticism, making damned sure that all our readers get a good, long look at it, and;

b) Publish your spurious legal threat along with copious mockery, so that it becomes highly ranked in search engines where other people you threaten can find it and take heart; and

c) Offer nourishing soup and sandwiches to your models.
This story was fresh in my mind when I came upon the ad below from sometime around 1969 or so (based on the reference to Hello Dolly).


(Click the image for a more readable version.)

And a detail from another ad for the same product:


Somehow, I'm guessing that in these days of anorexic chic, Wate-On probably isn't exactly flying off the shelves (if it's even still available). How many of today's young (and not so young) women can even conceive of being too skinny to be popular?

So yeah, things change. But the one thing that seems to be a given is that no matter what the standard of beauty du jour, there'll always be big bucks in convincing women that they don't quite measure up - unless of course, they'll just buy this product (whatever it happens to be).

Update 10/14: Oops! From the Comments (even though there's only one comment):
Missy said...

My biggest LOL of an otherwise crappy day came from the subjective personal pronoun in the first line of your post.

Xeni Jardin has spent a LOT of time trying to quash those damn trans rumors... geesh, why'd you have to get all passive-aggressive?

http://www.boingboing.net/2008/03/24/bad-questions-to-ask.html
So, sorry Xeni (I guess).

1 comment:

Missy said...

My biggest LOL of an otherwise crappy day came from the subjective personal pronoun in the first line of your post.

Xeni Jardin has spent a LOT of time trying to quash those damn trans rumors... geesh, why'd you have to get all passive-aggressive?

http://www.boingboing.net/2008/03/24/bad-questions-to-ask.html