By Nidhi Kinhal
Just a few days ago, creepy uncle Donald Trump met the French first lady, and said, “You’re in such good shape. Beautiful”, and then repeated the comment to her husband, in an awestruck manner that still makes us cringe.
While people are calling out this ridiculous behaviour, others rushed to his defence saying that normally they detest him (thanks for clarifying), “but would defend him on this one.” Reebok, the sportswear and fitness company, put out a helpful poster for the noobs, showing how in a professional, or really, any setting, it is always inappropriate to comment on a woman’s shape, and that the only time it would make sense is if you were referring to an old action figure. It’s ridiculous that these analogies have to be deployed to explain what clearly makes most women uncomfortable, but hey, what else can be done if people aren’t listening?
In case you were wondering when it IS appropriate to say, “You’re in such good shape…beautiful,”… THIS: pic.twitter.com/Z1cnnRD8Ut
— Reebok (@Reebok) July 14, 2017
And as for people crying “that’s a compliment!” (hint: nope, it’s not), the poster clears out the supposed ambiguities. But that’s the thing: I’m always a little skeptical when brands become vocal on news issues. Especially women’s issues or empowerment. Brands and the advertising industry are catching on to these so-called “hot topics”: the tokenism and emotional release around Women’s day and Mother’s day, the increase in ads that ask us to “break the rules” or “change the conversation”, and brands that offer upper-class retail therapy for our oppression are proof of that. Brands, especially but not limited to clothing, fitness and makeup ones, have a history of sexist advertising and sexualising women’s bodies, like this tweet on Reebok’s original points out. Remember their EasyTone ad campaign? One of the ads featured a montage of women’s behinds to a dude singing “shake it up, make me feel good,” and another ad where the cameraperson repeatedly zooming in on a woman’s butt even after she takes notice (we get it Reebok, your products help tone women’s bodies and keep them fit.) Even alongside less objectionable campaigns like the Be More Human, there are highly sexualised ones like the recent Free Your Style video featuring Teyana Taylor.
It’s great that brands who have high influential capacity speak up on the nonsense people in positions of power say and do, but unless these intentions are also reflected in the way they treat women at their workplace, and advertise their products, there’s little integrity.