Are You Sure This is A Shoe Ad?


I must admit that I have a soft spot for fashion magazines, but this Brian Atwood ad calls my unconditional love into question. At first glimpse, one might say, “Oh great, lesbian desire is being portrayed here!” Unfortunately, this ad is nothing more than a heterosexual fantasy of lesbianism. The advertisers are sure not to cross too many lines, and the models are obviously the “white and middle class” “lipstick lesbians” that Sunny Tsai describes in “Assimilating the Queers” (6-7).  Furthermore, they are not just feminine lesbians, rather flawless models. This couple fails to portray not only the average lesbian but also the average woman period. They “aspire to become nothing” as the brunette seemingly disappears into the background (Kilbourne). Although not obvious, this ad is actually selling the peep toe pumps to wealthy chic consumers, but they occupy a seemingly inconsequential amount of space. One has to wonder, is Brian Atwood selling a product or lifestyle? When the brand’s name is nearly indecipherable, you have to wonder.

Wan- Hsiu Sunny Tsai, “Assimilating the Queers: Representations of Lesbians, Gay Men, Bisexual, and Transgender People in Mainstream Advertising” (2010)

Jean Kilbourne, “Killing Us Softly 4” (2010)


One thought on “Are You Sure This is A Shoe Ad?

  1. pennjennywrites

    I agree that for an ad selling shoes, the shoes certainly occupy little of the ad space. This is not uncommon; often, images of conventionally attractive women are used to draw attention and sell a product, but it can be overdone to the point where the “sell a product” part is forgotten. Perhaps this is because gazing at and objectifying women is so ingrained in our culture by now that it overtakes everything? It is also a shame that the lesbian couple shown fails to be as subversive as it could have been. This could have been a wonderful chance to represent a lesbian couple that was not conventionally feminine or perhaps even looked like regular people rather than models. Instead of taking the chance for some much-needed queer representation for a group of people who rarely see positive images of themselves in the media, the ad went for the easier route of having conventionally attractive women sell a product. If the brand is trying to appeal to lesbian consumers, it could have done a better job, as most women have known what it is like to be objectified and held to an impossible to obtain beauty standard.


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