Hey! Guess what I’m going to bitch about today? So many things, so little time, right?
I’m going to talk about how sex sells.
No, wait. That’s not right. It’s not sex, exactly. Maybe it’s youth that sells? Well, crap. Now I’m not even sure what it is I’m going to bitch about. Well, I’ll just start bitching and we’ll see where this goes….
It all started a few days ago when the swimsuit issue of Sports Illustrated showed up in our mailbox. As preemptive strike, I’m going to share my personal stance on something that not all women will agree with me on: I have nothing against pornography. Playboy, late night movies on Cinemax – whatever floats your boat is fine with me. I’m not personally a fan of the hard-core stuff, but if you’re into it, then what you do in your private time is YOUR business.1 Of course, there are so many negatives associated with that world; there are very strong arguments against just about every aspect of pornography, whether soft or hard core. We can argue objectification. We can argue how it empowers women. I think both sides would be correct in some fashion.
I believe that people are free to do what they want to do. Again, we could drum up some arguments the go against that basic human right.
What’s been bothering me lately is how YOUNG the women are in so much of our advertising these days. It smacks of soft-core porn. I mean, it’s one thing to be young, look mature and try to pass yourself off as an adult. I can relate. I was the height I am now (5’10”) at 13. People thought I was older than I was and I could get away with it if I tried. However, it’s another thing to look like a child in a grown-up situation. To me, that’s crossing some lines. It’s creepy. It grosses me out. I think it encourages young women to by-pass their youth at lightening speed and jump into mature situations they clearly aren’t prepared for mentally.
This bothers me. A lot. I mean, what’s wrong with being a kid for as long as humanly possible? Why is everyone in such a damn hurry to grow up? I do remember being a kid and wanting to be grown up. I wanted to wear lipstick and shave my legs in the 5th grade. I wasn’t allowed a razor for a several more years and my root beer flavored Lip Smackers was a close as I got to lipstick.
I’m so happy for that. I’m happy that I had a childhood. I‘m happy I climbed tress and ran through the woods and that I came home in the afternoon, covered in mosquitos bites, the occasional tick, scraped knees and dirt under my fingernails. I’m glad that the kids on my block were my friends and that I wasn’t forced into some “play group.” I’m happy for my innocence, my naïveté. I’m happy I wasn’t bombarded with advertising filled with half-naked women bouncing around with giant tits.
There was a Twitter conversation I started a few weeks ago regarding the Vera Wang diamond commercial. I saw it and freaked out and tweeted something and a bunch of bloggers jumped in on the creep-factor. Here’s what I’m talking about it case you haven’t seen it.
Do you see what I see? I see some scruffy boy who has snuck his Dad’s vintage convertible out the garage and has driven to his family’s mansion by the ocean and taken his 16 year old girlfriend along in hopes of getting laid. Her parents think she’s gone camping with her friend Susie and Susie’s parents. His parents are attending a conference on plastic surgery in Palm Springs and are making a long weekend of it, entrusting their teenage son to take care of things as a responsible young adult.
Oops, wait no? That’s not it? Oh, holy sweet mother of God, those are supposed to adults? Committing to marriage? What? The? Fuck?
OK, so it’s pretty. The girl is pretty. The boy is prettier. I get the whole fantasy marketing scheme in that regard. However, what Zales (and perhaps Vera?) is forgetting is the fact that the average age of folks getting engaged isn’t 12. In 2010, the average age for dudes getting married is 28.2, for the ladies it’s 26.1. (source) Does this advertisement speak to those men and women? I just can’t see how it does unless Generation Y is predisposed to this kind of stuff, which I’m starting to think it is.
For the record, the model in the commercial is Rosie Tupper and she’s 20 years old.
So, my panties untwist themselves regarding the commercial. I move on, but the ick-factor is still there whenever I see it.
Then all hell breaks loose this week. Why? The Candyman’s issue of Sport’s Illustrated shows up. Yup, it’s the swimsuit edition. Now, like I said before, I’m OK with the soft core porn, which is basically what this issue has become. What freaked me out was the cover model.
The first thing that I noticed? Her crotch. Uh. Um. Where do I start? Let’s see….first and foremost: HELLO AIRBRUSH! Their ain’t no Brazilian wax job that’s gonna look that good. Ever. It just ain’t happening. I wonder if they had to airbrush the vajayjay cleft out?2
Second, I looked at her face and nearly choked. The girl still has her baby-face-fat. She’s still chock full of her natural collagen, her face isn’t as defined as it is yet to be. I was nauseated at how young she looked. But I thought to myself, “Maybe she just looks young, Louise. Don’t be a youth-jealous old fuddy-duddy.” So I went on-line and scoped out this cover model, Kate Upton.
She’s the youngest model to grace the covers of SI and she’s NINETEEN! She’s not even legal drinking age. Whoa.
When I was tooling around on-line and found out who she was and went to her webpage, this is what I found:
Whoa. Nineteen. Did you roll around in sexy lingerie at 19? When I was her age, I think the sexiest thing I may have owned was a pair of black (*GASP*) string bikini Jockey for Her undies. This kind of sexuality just wasn’t the norm.
And now it is. And it bothers me. It’s not the sexuality in and of itself, it’s the models who are being chosen and paid to exhibit it. Must they be and/or look so young? I get that the nubile body of a young woman gets the motors running for most men. I get it. I really do. But how young is too young? How are we defining sexuality by encouraging blatant youth in advertising, both in the wedding industry and otherwise?
In this country, we define “adult” at 18. At 18 you can drive and marry and vote and go to war, but you can’t drink.3 How many 18 year olds do you know who are mature enough to handle what’s happening in that video above? Does that 19 year old girl (yes, GIRL) understand what’s really going on? Does she realize that in a month or two a good portion of these magazines will be in the trash, crusty and nasty from male “private time”; that most issues will simply be a bathroom pass time? Gross? Totally. But you know it’s true.
None of this is new. I’m sure some woman felt the same way about the super French-cut bikinis from the 80’s. I haven’t even mentioned Victoria’s Secret in all this. So I see this youth-based sexuality crossing over into the wedding world, where it just doesn’t seem to belong. Does anyone else see this? Does anyone else feel the same way? Am I being too stuffy? Am I just getting old? Do I not “get” the generation under me? Can I no longer relate?
It makes me shudder to imagine that I am any of these things. I’ve never considered myself a prude or a conservative by any stretch of the imagination. All of it just makes me sad. And confused. How does it make you feel?
1 FREAK! No, I’m just kidding.
2I had a graphic artist friend in California who worked for Playboy and his JOB was airbrushing Playboy models. Day in and day out, he removed stretch marks, stray pubes, cellulite. Talk about jaded. That dude couldn’t look at a model without shuddering. He had to quit after 3 years or so. He said it was destroying his faith in humanity.
3Personally, I think if you can be killed for your country, you should be allowed to drink in it. However, I don’t think we should lower the drinking age, but raise the age of military service to 21.