DirecTV has a new print ad campaign that’s making people feel all kinds of uncomfortable and bummed out.
Here’s how it breaks down. As Yahoo reports, the ad (which will appear in the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue) features three super-famous supermodels (Hannah Davis, Chrissy Teigen, and Nina Agdal) in what DirecTV considers to be unattractive roles for women (a cat lady, a mom-jeans mom, and a lunch lady respectively) and claims this is what these models’ lives would be like if they had regular “cable tv.” The ads also show the DirecTV versions of these ladies, and they are all spray-tans and beachy waves, posing provocatively on tropical beaches in bikinis. Sure they look great, but is their semi-naked body a validation of their lives? And why are other “types” of people (who we think are awesome, productive, kick-ass members of society, for the record) being put down in the process? So many rhetorical questions here, friends.
Check it out:
These ads are, I think, supposed to be funny? But who exactly is it that is supposed to be laughing? All I see is a company’s cruel attempt to invalidate a woman’s life choices and reinforce inaccurate, judgmental stereotypes of women. Own however many cats you want, do the dishes in your high-rise jeans like a badass, work in food service, please! There’s nothing inherently “sexy” or “unsexy” about these life choices. What is decidedly unsexy, however, is reducing women, transforming them from people into sex-things.
These models don’t undergo a Cinderella transformation when they get model-fied. There’s no sign of them achieving their dreams or becoming smarter, kinder, happier, more fulfilled people in these transformations. Instead, they go from being tired old stereotypes the straight dudes reading are told they DON’T want to have sex with to tired old stereotypes the straight dudes reading are told they DO want to have sex with. The women in these ads aren’t people, they’re things, to be chosen or not chosen, used or not used.
The cat lady/mom jeans/lunch lady images may be ridiculous stereotypes, but at least these women have jobs, hobbies, lives. Even though the DirecTV versions of these models are supposed to seem like they have better lives, I’m sorry, but sexy-beach-posing isn’t everything.
There are just too many sexist things going on in this campaign. Women are being pitted against one another, women’s life choices are being invalidated, women are being portrayed as things, women are not being treated like human beings. I think Direct TV was trying to be edgy and funny with these ads. But there’s nothing edgy about celebrating the most dated models of sexism, and there’s nothing funny about dehumanizing women.