Over the past few weeks, Wrangler, a clothing store typically known for their Western apparel and denim products, has tried to join the wave of body positive marketing campaigns that have been taking over the advertising world. Unfortunately for the company, what was meant to be uplifting and motivational soon turned into a laughable attempt at a body positivity advertisement gone wrong.
The “more than a bum” movement that Wrangler was trying to promote was no doubt admirable in its message to “create a rallying cry against female stereotyping”, however its delivery completely misses the mark. After all, it is a little bit hard to tell women that they are “more than a bum” when the advertisement you are showing them is full of pictures of women’s bums. While the ad no doubt attempts to tackle a difficult subject, it ends up coming off as tacky and patronizing, in no way helping Wrangler in their endeavor to sell clothing or inspiration.
Right from the beginning the nearly four-minute-long commercial has issues. It starts off by zooming in on singer and musician Kimbra’s backside, and then quickly moving on to another woman’s behind while ironically flashing the slogan, “ain’t not about what’s behind me,” at the audience. From there it does not get much better, as Kimbra and the camera go around interviewing other talented women while paying way too much attention to their backsides and not enough attention to their actual accomplishments.
The advertisement ends with the hashtag #MoreThanABum displayed across the screen, hoping to spur the rest of the population to share their own experiences and opinions, which, unfortunately for Wrangler, they have. This commercial has sparked outrage all over the world, with women tweeting and posting to Wrangler’s Facebook page about the “faux-feminist advertising”.
Wrangler’s response to the media attention has been anything but helpful to their situation. In a post to the European Wrangler’s Facebook page which has since been deleted, the company claimed that their Body Bespoke line was created around the idea “that a line of jeans engineered to look great on everyone’s behind means women stop wasting time trying endless models on, so they can move on to what they really want to use their time and energy on”. The post goes on to ask “Why not look at their story and not just at the images of their bums?”
But if Wrangler wanted consumers to stop caring so much about looks and care more for a person’s story, why would they cover their advertisements with photographs and videos focused on women’s butts? The idea that women waste time trying on clothes to make themselves look good is sexist and presumptive, and the fact that Wrangler is telling them they no longer have to do this because of a new pair of jeans completely goes against the point of the body positivity movement. Body positivity is supposed to be about loving yourself and being happy with how you look without wearing special clothes or putting on too much makeup. By pushing this advertisement as a body positive statement, not only is Wrangler incorrect, but they are offending and misleading all supporters of the movement by claiming that their product can help progress a campaign that is supposed to persevere no matter what clothes you wear.
The advertisement also fails in its ability to represent women as a whole. While the commercial very obviously tries to display women of all races and ethnicities, every image taken of a women’s butt came from the same body type. Wrangler’s goal of trying to prove that women are more than their looks is completely lost by the fact that they only pictured people that have what they consider to be the “ideal” body type. Their argument that looks are not important is completely invalidated by the fact that they only used people who were consistent with the look they preferred.
Wrangler’s commercial does its best to tackle the undeniably important subjects of body positivity and feminism; however, its poor attempt only goes to show how the objectification of women has grown as an issue in today’s society. While many are working against this growth, it is the absent-mindedness of companies like Wrangler that hold us back and show that despite our best intentions, issues like this still remain commonplace.
Emma Hungaski is an opinion contributor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.