Why those Wonderbra ads didn’t hit home @petranandersson

jessica gough jessicagough | September 28, 2017

Posted in Blog, Front, Keep

By Petra Andersson 

Why those Wonderbra ads didn’t hit home Last Monday we had a creativity workshop with Marc. He showed us 12 different techniques for lateral thinking. The session was great, and the work he showed us even better. With one exception: three very visual ads for Wonderbra featuring one big-eyed drooling baby, two hypnotizing wheels and one milkshake with an extra long straw to make room for the giant breasts. They clearly illustrate the idea and the benefit of the product. But the laugh got stuck in my throat because they also illustrate another idea: that women are bodies. Not humans. And it’s perfectly okay to laugh at us and chop us up in body parts. And that makes my heartbreak.

I was 13-years-old when I first realized that I was just a body, free for everyone to comment and touch. We were working on our drawings in art-class. Except I didn’t, because the boy sitting opposite me wouldn’t let his eyes off of my chest for the entire lesson.

I can still see his grin.

I had never felt so ashamed, and that eternal and internal shame has never left. I have lost track of all the times my body been commented, watched and touched against my will. Guys spanking me as I walk past them when I’m out dancing with friends. Being catcalled as I touch out with my Oyster card, feeling unwelcome eyes giving me a full body scan. Hearing men comment if I’m fuckable or not when I pack my groceries. I’m used to feeling scared while walking the streets at night, keys cramping in my fist. Ending every night out with “text me when you get home, okay?”. Having all of my ideas and suggestions ignored in meetings, just to hear a man pitch the same idea to everyone’s praise. Working twice as hard to be considered half as good, with 13% less on my paycheck.

How is this related to the Wonderbra ads? I believe that we as advertisers have a tremendous power. We decide which parts of culture we want to enhance or ignore. One ad might not make society sexist, but when you put into context that each and every one of us

I was 13-years-old when I first realized that I was just a body, free for everyone to comment and touch. We were working on our drawings in art-class. Except I didn’t, because the boy sitting opposite me wouldn’t let his eyes off of my chest for the entire lesson. I can still see his grin. I had never felt so ashamed, and that eternal and internal shame has never left. I have lost track of all the times my body been commented, watched and touched against my will. Guys spanking me as I walk past them when I’m out dancing with friends. Being catcalled as I touch out with my Oyster card, feeling unwelcome eyes giving me a full body scan. Hearing men comment if I’m fuckable or not when I pack my groceries. I’m used to feeling scared while walking the streets at night, keys cramping in my fist. Ending every night out with “text me when you get home, okay?”. Having all of my ideas and suggestions ignored in meetings, just to hear a man pitch the same idea to everyone’s praise. Working twice as hard to be considered half as good, with 13% less on my paycheck. How is this related to the Wonderbra ads? I believe that we as advertisers have a tremendous power. We decide which parts of culture we want to enhance or ignore. One ad might not make society sexist, but when you put into context that each and every one of us

How is this related to the Wonderbra ads? I believe that we as advertisers have a tremendous power. We decide which parts of culture we want to enhance or ignore. One ad might not make society sexist, but when you put into context that each and every one of us sees about 5000 advertisements a day that put things in a different perspective. Representation and what social norms and ideas we choose to emphasize matters. And advertisements like those for Wonderbra reproduce the patriarchal idea that I’m less valuable and less of a human because I was born with ovaries instead of testicles. By doing so they make the already claustrophobically small frames of what a woman can be even narrower. I can feel them cutting into my flesh as I write these sentences.

For our Friday reflections, we were asked to write down what we would tattoo from what we’ve learned during the week. I chose “Always aim to make the world better. Not worse”. Because I don’t want one single 13-year-old to walking into an art-class and learn that she’s just a body and not a person.

Even though these kinds of ads makes me want to pull my hair and punch into a wall they also remind me that the industry desperately needs me and people with other perspectives and experiences than those of the white heterosexual male. And since I’m a firm believer in practical solutions, here are some tips for you who want to learn how you can make advertisements that make society more inclusive and kind.

– Do you need a person walking down the street or pick something up to illustrate your idea? Try to use a black woman instead of a white man. The message will still hit home, I promise.

– Follow people with different social backgrounds, experiences, interests, and gender than you on social media. Or why not trying to extend your circle of friends? Knowledge about several subcultures and targeted audiences will only make you a better creative.

– Never make a joke at a marginalized group’s expense.

– If you are a man, why not invite some of your friends over for dinner and talk about friendship, feelings, and relationships? The patriarchy isn’t only punishing women.