Calvin Klein: “I promote sexism in #mycalvins”
by elmo101 on February 27, 2017 - 3:55pm
As someone who has always loved to keep up with fashion trends, there is no doubt that Calvin Klein has made its comeback. In 2016, they launched their Spring ad campaign that, for the most part, pictures celebrities in their underwear with captions “I _______in #mycalvins”. The ads have featured celebrities like Justin Bieber, Kendall Jenner and many others. The brand has gained a huge platform of teenagers and young adults. It’s for this reason that it is so appalling that the brand could advertise such obvious sexism.
The ad shown above is a billboard that was up in SoHo, New York City. The billboard contains two separate Calvin Klein ads placed next to each other. The photo on the left is of actress Klara Kristen with the caption “I seduce in #mycalvins” and on the right, the photo is of the rapper Fetty Wap with the caption “I make money in #mycalvins”. Despite the ad being petitioned, it was only taken down as a customary rotation of ads every few months. However, during the time that it was up, hundreds of thousands of people passed by the ad every, single day.
The first thing that can be analyzed is the body positions and the clothing worn by both the models in the ads. Klara Kristen is sitting down with her legs open in a short, see-through dress where both her black bra and underwear are visible. The picture is obviously posed to be provocative. Her outfit is revealing, and her body language is submissive. On the other hand, the photo of Fetty Wap is simply of his face. The photo does not even show the underwear. The second, and much more obvious problem with the ads are the captions. Krista Klein’s ad, “I seduce in #mycalvins” in contrast with Fetty Wap’s, “I make money in #mycalvins” is the perfect depiction of sexism.
The photos stand-alone without the captions, the woman is overly sexualized to sell the product whereas the man doesn’t even need to wear the product to sell it. Just ask yourself the question, “who do you think the advertisers respect more in the ads?” The low angle shot, the revealing outfit and the unhappy look on Klara’s face versus the self-portrait of Fetty Wap. The answer is clear. As for the captions, they pretty much speak for themselves as they are the exact definition of the outdated gender stereotype: women exist to please men and that men exist to be the breadwinner and superior.
In the film Miss Representation, a huge topic of discussion is the media’s portrayal of females and how it affects the way women view themselves and how males view them as well. The founder and CEO of misrepresentation.org, Jennifer Siebel Newsom, says, “we need to challenge the media conglomerates to value women for more than their youth, beauty and sexuality, and we must hold these companies accountable”. For this ad, and many others, this statement holds extremely true. In the photo, Klara Kristen is valued for her sexuality rather than her success whereas Fetty Wap is valued solely for his success. As seen in the movie, this influence directly affects the potential success of women by thoroughly destroying their self-esteem.
Not only are there hundreds of thousands of people who have walked by this ad, but there are hundreds of thousands of young women and men who are influenced by the trendy brand and the popular celebrities. Klara Kristen and Fetty Wap were not chosen at random, they were chosen for their young fan base. It’s for this reason that it is concerning that such influential brands like Calvin Klein and many others, feel it is okay to promote such demeaning and archaic gender stereotypes. Each woman who passes by this ad will most likely feel more insecure about their self-worth and purpose in society. Every man who passes by the ad is pushed more into the “man box” that tells them that they must always be the breadwinner and that women are there for their pleasure. If the future of the world relies on the next generation, huge corporations are ruining the chances that exist for equality.
To change the ad, the company must demonstrate equality among the two. If the brand is using their celebrity status to sell a product, one shouldn’t have to be ten times more sexualized than the other. Why not have both photos as self-portraits? Or, if they really do want to show their product, have them both comfortably and happily pose in the product. Also, considering that Klara is equally a successful actress as Fetty is a successful rapper, the caption “I make money in #mycalvins” should be shared, (if it is “success” that they are truly trying to sell).
In conclusion, ads of popular brands like Calvin Klein are often overlooked due to their “trendiness”. However, as seen in Miss Representation, if we don’t call these companies out on the damage they are causing, we will never be able to reach full equality. It is so important that influential companies use their platform to promote equality and self-esteem of women as it could make such a difference in the lives of the young girls who have so much potential to do amazing things.
C. S. (2016, March 21). Calvin Klein removes controversial billboard saying Fetty Wap is 'making money' while a scantily-clad actress 'seduces' after furious protesters labeled the campaign 'sexist' Retrieved February 27, 2017, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-3502932/Calvin-Klein-removes-c...
Miss Representation. Directed by Jennifer Siebel Newsom, performance by Geena Davis and Cory Booker, Girls’ Club Entertainment, 2011.