In spite of the significant percentage of women’s magazines that is devoted blatant sexism written, photographed and designed for women by women, I read a lot of them. Years of reading these has made me almost completely immune to the fact that having any excess weight is thought to be on par with wearing sweat pants to the office or wearing dayglo pants in terms of fashion crimes. But the skinny-loving, fat-shaming rhetoric of the twenty-first century hasn’t gotten to me completely, and this advertisement caught my eye and set me off. (I found my copy of the ad in this Augusts’ edition of Elle Canada, but I’m sure it’s been placed in many other magazines as well).
Let’s just say one thing: I think skinny women are beautiful. I think women with big bums are beautiful. I think African women, Asian women, white women, Indian women, Native American women, South American women, and women with all the body types that accompany these backgrounds are beautiful. I don’t think there’s such a thing as a woman with an ugly body, and I have no problem with the stick thin models that populate the glossy pages of magazines. What I take issue with is that they’re the only women on those pages. Even then, no serious complaints; I understand that we’re not likely to see a mainstream shift from this attitude until skinny stops selling- which it probably won’t. When it becomes a serious issue, in my mind, is when someone tries to pass off this selective, perfected, air-brushed image of women as diverse.
This advertisement in no way reflects diversity. Sure, there are legs that differ in colour, but none that differ in shape. The legs are all perfectly symmetrical, the curves parallel. There has been some serious photo editing done here. No woman has legs that perfect, and none have legs that similar to each others’. Furthermore, these legs don’t differ in size, or apparently, age. I can pretty much guarantee that none of the legs in this picture belong to a woman over the age of thirty-five. So why does Veet even bother to try to cultivate some sense of diversity? For financial reasons, mostly, after all they do need to somehow underscore their claim that “Legs everywhere are convinced,” but some of it, I’m sure, is legal. If they’d chosen to show that many legs without some of them being non-Caucasian, someone would surely have taken offense. Well, I’m writing this to say that I take offense too. I’m tired of seeing women devalued for aesthetic reasons- sure, this incredibly-symmetrical advertisement looks great, but it also looks fake. Women are beautiful even when they are old and imperfect, if their legs are long or if they’re stubby, they’re gorgeous even with scars and sometimes because of them. Heck, women are beautiful even when they don’t shave and they’re really beautiful when they actually have pores. One of the most undeniably beautiful thing about women is that they are real. It’s time that we started calling companies out on selling their products by talking about diversity when the pictures they accompany their rhetoric with don’t reflect it. I’m not asking them to change their advertisements, I’m asking them to start telling the truth.