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The Devil wears Communist Mime, PhD.
April 16, 2011 5:52 AM   Subscribe

Model's 'underweight' appearance due to lighting, make-up and low-cut dress rules the Advertising Standards Authority.

The Advertising Standards Authority has cleared Italian fashion label Miu Miu of breaching social responsibility guidelines after receiving complaints about their latest advertising campaign. The image in question, from Miu Miu's spring/summer 2011 campaign, features 23-year-old Polish model Kasia Struss sitting on a chair in front of a mirror and clutching a handbag on her lap.

Miu Miu was created in 1993 by Miuccia Prada. The rise of Mrs. Prada, as she is known to her Italian staff members, is a well-known tale — your basic story of a onetime communist and mime student from Milan who takes over her family's dusty luggage company and, with the help of her go-getting husband, turns it into a luxury conglomerate that in 2002 had revenues of about $1.9 billion.
posted by hal_c_on (29 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
I really don't know if the fashion world needs more mimes or fewer.
posted by b1tr0t at 6:00 AM on April 16, 2011


She has a PhD in Political Science, which she followed with five years studying performing mime. She was also a member of the Communist Party. After her degree, in 1978 she reluctantly took over the luxury leather goods company that her grandfather had founded in Milan in 1913.

Oh, I see. Blah, blah, blah, inheritance.

Same as it ever was.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:34 AM on April 16, 2011 [9 favorites]


I am totally going to use the "it's just this direct sunlight making me look fat" line from now on. The "image in question" actually looks less bony than I expected -- there's at least some flesh on the woman's arms, and you can't count her vertebrae. So that's a plus.
posted by FelliniBlank at 6:39 AM on April 16, 2011


Ok, can they give us an example of a model who IS too skinny or have they never made any kind of judgment whatsoever in that direction?
posted by spicynuts at 7:25 AM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Looks like an underfed mime to me.
posted by warbaby at 7:27 AM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, I see. Blah, blah, blah, inheritance.

Same as it ever was.


It's true! Some people have inherited things!
posted by eugenen at 7:55 AM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


If the model has enough body strength to walk around and to firmly grip her handbag, they shouldn't be persecuting her for being "too thin."
posted by knoyers at 8:09 AM on April 16, 2011


I have female friends who are in their 30s and look as skinny as this model in the photo. These friends are not models nor do they have any eating disorders (one of them is even a enthusiastic foodie and sweettooth). Actually they are very healthy. it's not all easy for them because sometimes they genuinely worry that new people they meet will think they are too skinny (and so unhealthy).
posted by Bwithh at 8:23 AM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


As fashion models go, that one is not skinny. If anything, she looks a few pounds closer to human than most.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:48 AM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


The fact that it warranted investigation is ridiculous. If you want to associate your product with the walking dead, that should be your decision. I understand the need for governing bodies; ad agencies would pretty much sell frozen vegetables, tires, dog food etc with graphic depictions of people fucking if they could get away with it. But laying down a threshold BMI is pretty out-there.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:49 AM on April 16, 2011


What BMI range is permissible to use in advertising in the UK?
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:52 AM on April 16, 2011


Or, as Sys Rq might ask:
What is the BMI range in which I should refer to people as "human"?
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 8:53 AM on April 16, 2011


Or, as Sys Rq might ask:
What is the BMI range in which I should refer to people as "human"?


I should point out that for much of my teen years, I was 6'2" and 130lbs, which is really quite skinny.

But there's "really quite skinny" and there's "undead skeleton," and an alarming number of models fall into the latter category.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:00 AM on April 16, 2011


Well, *obviously* any BMI that you've ever been would be considered human.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 9:26 AM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's called hyperbole, dude.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:31 AM on April 16, 2011


Mayor Curley: "If you want to associate your product with the walking dead, that should be your decision."

That's a bit of an oversimplification, wouldn't you say? These are not independent variables; whether or not these models are perceived as "the walking dead" is directly influenced by their use in advertising. Advertising is, at its very essence, the art of convincing people that they want the thing in the ad.

There are two ways to go about that. First, you could convince people that they want the product. Think of paper towel ads where they compare their absorbing power compared to Brand X. This can be effective, but BOOOring.

The other way is to convince people that they want the lifestyle presented in the ad, and then inextricably link that lifestyle to the product in people's minds. Budweiser will put you in the middle of a beach volleyball game with sexy bikini-clad women... who cares what it tastes like? This Ford F-150 will make you feel like a rugged manly man hauling a pallet of fucking cinder blocks up a fucking mountain... nevermind that you live in the suburbs and never haul anything heavier than a case of Budweiser. Our consulting will make you feel like you're out having the best golf game of your life... so what if there's no conceivable connection between Tiger Woods and Accenture's services?

The problem is, these messages are self-reinforcing. The beach volleyball lifestyle becomes the thing you never knew you always wanted. Same thing goes with these models; it probably wouldn't occur to many young girls that throwing up after every meal would make them prettier, if didn't they have that lifestyle sold to them in every magazine and on every billboard.

That's why it shouldn't just be the advertisers' decision. If their ads can affect our society then our society should have some say in the ads.

"I understand the need for governing bodies; ad agencies would pretty much sell frozen vegetables, tires, dog food etc with graphic depictions of people fucking if they could get away with it. But laying down a threshold BMI is pretty out-there."

So you think sex is out of bounds, even though it's a normal and healthy thing people do. But promoting a body type that can often only be achieved through life-destroying eating disorders, that's fair game? Isn't it possible that these priorities are misplaced?
posted by Riki tiki at 10:23 AM on April 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Some people have inherited things!

Yeah, way to miss the point. The point is, people who inherit things tend to love to spout off about all their self-enriching bullshit that they then use as back-story to explain their miraculous "success" in life, when the fact is that there are plenty of communist ex-mime-school drop-outs with PhDs that are not the head of Italian design houses. In fact, I would venture to say that most communist PhD mime-school drop-outs are not, and will never be the heads of Italian design houses. Why? Because they didn't inherit shit.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 11:06 AM on April 16, 2011 [4 favorites]


This woman isn't even close to as thin as the actually controversial models in the news lately. She has a muscular back and arms, and it's likely her figure is not down to starvation. She looks fine to me...just my professional opinion.
posted by FunkyStar at 11:16 AM on April 16, 2011


I think she's probably more of a healthy weight than I am.
posted by silby at 11:19 AM on April 16, 2011


a body type that can often only be achieved through life-destroying eating disorders

I guess you couldn't be bothered to read the several comments above of people having or knowing folks with that body type who achieved it through no extraordinary measures at all other than existing. Probably happened while you were struggling to get on your high horse.

How long until normally thin people are considered witches and freaks and mutants by the vast (pun intended) gobbling majority? Uh...maybe now, I guess.
posted by umberto at 11:33 AM on April 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


Yeah, it's totally OK to judge skinny people because they must be using some sort of witchcraft or other "cheat" to remain as skinny as they are.
posted by gjc at 12:14 PM on April 16, 2011


I guess you couldn't be bothered to read the word "often"?

Don't get so defensive. There's nothing evil about people who are skinny. The problem is the message that "skinnier" always equals "prettier", which is neither inherently true nor a healthy attitude.
posted by Riki tiki at 12:39 PM on April 16, 2011


So you think sex is out of bounds, even though it's a normal and healthy thing people do. But promoting a body type that can often only be achieved through life-destroying eating disorders, that's fair game? Isn't it possible that these priorities are misplaced?

How droll. A dude jizzing on his partner's face with a new cereal's box in the foreground would violate most peoples' sense of what's appropriate for public display and is not permitted most places. An underweight woman holding a handbag does not. I saw an obviously anorexic woman at the beach last summer, and while people averted their eyes or whispered words of pity for her to their friends, no one asked her to leave or called the cops.

This whole argument that advertising and other media are the source for eating disorders is ludicrous. WHY would a company that is not selling diet drugs go to the trouble of CREATING a reality where emaciated is beautiful, outside of a movie plot? They don't-- they use skinny models because they appea already. Your explanation of:
The problem is, these messages are self-reinforcing. The beach volleyball lifestyle becomes the thing you never knew you always wanted. Same thing goes with these models; it probably wouldn't occur to many young girls that throwing up after every meal would make them prettier, if didn't they have that lifestyle sold to them in every magazine and on every billboard.
lacks original motive. The beach volleyball is carefree and fun; use this product and your life will be equally carefree and fun. What's thin except thin? Fun is a universal human desire, thin is not. So how did advertisers originally decide to start this idea that thin is desirable when they're selling bags and perfumes etc?

They didn't. Thin is desirable because of a societal condition: many people are overweight. The advertisers using thin are saying "if you have this product, you will be attractive and different from all those fat people you see around you." They didn't create that desire, modern Western nutrition did. If obtaining calories were still a concern in consumer culture, you'd see overweight people in the ads to suggest "you get this, and you're not one of those losers struggling to get enough to eat." Thin is going to be desirable until we figure out how to beat the obesity problem. You might have read something about this issue-- it kills many times more people than malnutrition, and yet no one is taking a stand suggesting that at some level of obesity a model should not be allowed to appear in advertisements.

Hiding emaciated people in the hopes of preventing eating disorders is as effective as asking people to exhale less to curb CO2 emissions.
posted by Mayor Curley at 1:08 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Australia must be out of real problems.
posted by aerotive at 1:21 PM on April 16, 2011


Arg UK not Australia.
posted by aerotive at 1:22 PM on April 16, 2011


This model doesn't look underweight. I know people who are thinner and they're not in danger of dying from malnourishment. That being said, weight isn't the best indicator of health and eating habits.

In any case, I don't think that "the vast ... gobbling majority" actually considers skinny people to be "freaks."

Struss, one of the world's top fashion models, stands and[sic] just over 5ft 10 ins and is ... "naturally tall and slim".

If she, and others like her, are considered freaks then Miu Miu's revenues certainly don't show it.

-----------

Riki tiki - I agree with you (about the nature of ads). Advertising a product surrounded by a "desirable" lifestyle actually works in getting people to shell out their money (I mean, come on...does anyone really need the particular bag that this model is holding?). Ads work to capitalize off the ideals already present within society. For quite a few people skinnier = more attractive (don't ask me why - I don't subscribe to the belief that rail thin is attractive) ... if a woman/girl wishes to conform to that ideal at the expense of her health then these insecurities need to be unpacked and examined in therapy.
posted by neitherly at 1:37 PM on April 16, 2011


The fact that it warranted investigation is ridiculous. If you want to associate your product with the walking dead, that should be your decision. I understand the need for governing bodies; ad agencies would pretty much sell frozen vegetables, tires, dog food etc with graphic depictions of people fucking if they could get away with it. But laying down a threshold BMI is pretty out-there.

Just to clarify, the ASA is not a governmental body capable of any type of statutory enforcement.
It was founded by industry to make sure everybody stays within certain guidelines.

Anybody can file a complaint and if enough complaints are lodged, an investigation is started. That's all.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:49 PM on April 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


OMG, the model doesn't have silicone.
posted by JJ86 at 4:32 PM on April 16, 2011


I'd feed it.
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 2:25 AM on April 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


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