When I was younger, my mother and I would go to Kohl’s for much of our clothing, partially because it was close and partially because she had learned the coupon system there making it possible for her to attain every discount they offered. At that time, I was still shopping in their “teen” section and Candie’s is one of their store clothing lines. I would try on all of the clothes I saw my friends wearing, but I am a good deal shorter than many of my peers and what ever weight I have doesn’t have as much room to spread out. All of their jeans hugged my thighs like a sort of meat casing, all the while the hem of the bottom dragged two inches while I walked around the dressing room. It always seemed that if I went a size larger, that that jeans didn’t get roomier around the waist and thighs, just longer in the leg. It was so frustrating going shopping this with name brand.
I know that there are some brands that fit differently than others, but it seemed almost unfair how these jeans were cut. I was not fat in high school. I was 5’ 1” weighing 115. I danced and ran cross-country and ate a healthy lunch from home everyday. So what was the problem? And I kept thinking “ if only I weighed 105 instead of 115, then I would fit”, then I would be happy. My mother and I would leave Kohls with a series of basic shirts and accessories ( especially shoes, its hard to be “too fat” for a pair of shoes) rather than leaving with the jeans I come shopping for.
So what makes this brand popular? It can’t be because its accessible. Nothing fit me. But I don’t think I ever wanted a pair of “cool jeans” more than after I left that store feeling so inadequate.
Apparently this is what you are supposed to look like when you wear Candie’s or maybe the ad is trying to say this is what you will look like if you wear Candie’s. Its Brittney Spears, back to stick thin again after having children. She has to be almost thirty now and she is selling clothing to girls probably between 11- 18. Why isn’t someone between the ages of 11 and 18 selling this clothing. This is yet another example of kids getting older, younger.
Notice she is only wearing a bathing suit and heels. Though I have not taken a poll or done a thorough study, I am going to assume that most women do not wear heels with their bathing suits. She is also wearing and surrounded with pink, the color for women, which in many eyes could mark her as feminine.
This is not the only Candie’s advertisement like this. Here is another ad showing Britney sporting the pink, wearing either a bathing suit or underwear with heels, But this time she actually has a pink stuffed bear with her.
Both of these ads have similar themes like “ the more you subtract, the more you add”. Jean Kilbourne in “The More you Subtract, the More You Add: Cutting Girls Down To Size in Advertising” discusses this double bind saying “ Girls are put into a terrible double bind. They are supposed to repress their power, their anger, their exuberance and be simply ‘nice,’ although they also eventually must compete with men in the business world and be successful. They must be overtly sexy but essentially passive and virginal” (104) We see that clearly with both of these Britney Ads; she is silent, staring at the camera, but ultimately passive. She is sexy because of her skin bearing attire but she is also displaying a virginal image through the pretty pretty pink and her seemingly innocent expression. She really displays the virginal image while holding the teddy bear on her shoulders as if the bear is her companion.
Kilbourne also discusses this adolescent obsession with thinness, something I was aaccutely aware of when I was a teen. She says “ this obsession [with thinness] starts early. Today at least one-third of 12- to 13-year-old girls are actively trying to lose weight, by dieting, vomiting, and/or taking pills” (104). But look at this ad for girls, where Britney is thin in one and incredibly thin in another. More importantly, she is flaunting that thinness by wearing very little clothing. Is this the message we want to send to our young women? How are we influencing this generation if “the single largest group of high school students considering suicide or attempting suicide is girls who feel they are overweight”. Kilbourne says “Imagine. Girls made to feel so terrible about themselves that they would rather be dead than fat”. (104)
I was never one to consider suicide in high school. But I makes me wonder today: how many girls left stores like Kohls or any other in tears because they couldn’t find anything that fit. The thought comes to mind “ If I can’t find anything that fits me, maybe its not the clothing that doesn’t fit, maybe its me that doesn’t fit.” That’s not the kind of message I want to be sending to my daughter.