In Chanel’s “Chance” perfume ad, a waif-ish woman is curled around a bottle of perfume, hair and body covered only by pale pink flowers. The woman has a childlike face and fragile, boyish body, with eyes closed and limbs on the verge of snapping. She lacks a “womanly” figure, mimicking the “boyish slenderness” that, according to Susan Bordo, becomes the dominant attractive form in times of gender role change. These images are often described as “female desire unborn.” Fittingly, the woman’s body language calls to mind the image of a fetus curled up inside of its mother’s womb.
The placement of ads like this in magazines like Allure and Instyle maintain the “slender” standard for women and perpetuate women’s obsession with thinness (Hesse-Biber, The Cult of Thinness). This ad reinforces slenderness as the current ideal for women, in which excess body weight signifies inadequacy thinness symbolizes the well-managed self (Bordo, “Reading the Slender Body”). The slender body is stereotypically female (as shown in the ad). Advertisements of slim women “overdetermine slenderness as a contemporary ideal of specifically female attractiveness” (Bordo, “Reading the Slender Body”). If current trends continue, female models will soon be no more than skin and bones, perpetuating a dangerous ideal in which women’s bodies are seen as attractive only when they appear to be withering away to nothing.
Bordo, Susan. Unbearable Weight: “Reading the Slender Body.” Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993. 185-212. Print.
Hesse-Biber, Sharlene Nagy. The Cult of Thinness: “Selling the Body Beautiful: Food, Dieting, and Recovery”. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007. 61-82. Print.