In case some of you missed the media flap last week, Lane Bryant — a company that specializes in lingerie for plus-sized women — was supposed to have aired an advertisement on the popular American TV show Dancing With The Stars (ABC Network). After several demands to edit the content, ABC finally decided to not air the 30 second spot, which shows a very attractive size 16 Ashely Graham trying on various undergarments, and opening her phone to show an appointment “Meet Dan for Lunch”. At the end of the spot, she is wearing a racy red bra and donning a trench coat. She then leaves the house for her lunch date, pausing only to turn back to look conspiratorially at the camera.
While the reasons ABC refused the ad are still unclear, Lane Bryant contends that it’s because the spot featured a plus-sized (or as Lane Bryant terms them: full-figured) model ; their claim is that she shows no more skin than one normally sees on Victoria’s Secret models, or indeed, on many other ads featuring women in lingerie or bathing suits. For that matter, on the various media blogs, many people observed that the costumes on DWTS are often much more revealing.
Femmedia blog Jezebel posted one of the letters from ABC to Lane Bryant, detailing time slots when the ad would not be allowed ( primarily during family hours and specific tv shows). Interestingly, during daytime dramas was fine, as was the post 9pm slot — except during DWTS.
Lane Bryant took the disagreement public, and posted details on their company blog Inside Curve.
“ABC’s statement that ‘Lane Bryant was treated absolutely no differently than any advertiser for the same product’ is simply not true. It was only after we got the rejection and raised the fact that they were operating under a double standard that they reluctantly agreed to put us in the last pod of the program. The Victoria’s Secret ads, which had aired on Dancing With the Stars prior to the date our ad was rejected, were not subject to the same restrictions. We have records of their ads airing in earlier time slots,” a Lane Bryant spokesman said.
Elsewhere on their blog, they have this:
Yes, these are the same networks that have scantily-clad housewives so desperate they seduce every man on the block, and don’t forget Bart Simpson, who has shown us the moon more often than NASA, all during what they call “prime time.”
We knew the ads were sexy, but they are not salacious. Our new commercials represent the sensuality of the curvy woman who has more to show the world than the typical waif-like lingerie model. What we didn’t know was that the networks, which regularly run Victoria’s Secret and Playtex advertising on the very shows from which we’re restricted, would object to a different view of beauty. If Victoria’s Secret and Playtex can run ads at any time during the 9pm to 10pm hour, why is Lane Bryant restricted only to the final 10 minutes?
While it’s no secret that Victoria’s Secret “The Nakeds” ads are prancing around on major networks leaving little to the imagination, steaming up t.v. screens and baring nearly everything but their souls, our sultry siren who shows sophisticated sass is somehow deemed inappropriate. The network exclaimed, she has “too much cleavage” Gasp!
Personally, I don’t think that there can be “too much” cleavage, but I am aware that some people have nothing better to do than to write in to TV networks to complain about such thing.
Interestingly, one of the the discussions that I read regarding this situation (which I can’t find right now) was that the underlying issue was not the cleavage itself, but the concept that while the Victoria’s Secret models were sexy, the Lane Bryant model was sexual and sensual. Being plus-sized indicated that she had appetites, and not just for food. That pushed the ad spot from merely displaying lingerie to displaying wantonness. In essence, the VS women are no more than clothes racks, and therefore, safe enough to show on TV; the luscious Ashely Graham, in contrast, was displaying her intentions, i.e., her expectation that those pretty underthings were going to lead to something kinky.
I don’t have any thoughts on this with regard to the reasoning. I do think that had VS come up with a similar ad, then it probably would have been placed. I do agree that showing a normal woman (i.e., normal according to US media standards, meaning a woman that looks like Eva Mendez or Tyra Banks) would probably have made the network more prone to allowing the ad, and I’m inclined to agree with the idea that a full-figured woman in such an overtly sexual context is a bit too forward for prime time, and most likely scared the network execs, who are trying to prevent controversy so as not to scare off future ad clients.
One more point: The model, in picking out enticing clothing for a kinky lunch date, is shown in a very sex-positive role. This is not typical in American television, where most actresses are no bigger than a size 4. Larger women with sexual appetites are often portrayed for laughs, if not some degree of humiliation. The commercial, in portraying a woman who is going after a man in an aggressive manner goes against the current media trends; guaranteed that ABC execs did not want to deal with the expected flurry of emails from shocked viewers.
If you think that the lovely Ashely Graham looks familiar, it’s because you might have seen her back in October, right here on The Edge of Vanilla.
ETA: Just as I was finishing this post (about 9:50 pm EDT), Fox aired this ad during the end of American Idol. Again, it’s during the very last segment of the show.
Mrs. Edge asked “Was that it? What was all the fuss about?” Good question.