Culture Jam




The Issue:

This Calvin Klein billboard advertisement displays images of two successful celebrities, Klara Kristin, an actress, and Fetty Wap, a male rapper. The two were asked to fill in the blanks Mad Libs-style for the statement shown on the billboard; I ______ in #mycalvins. Whether or not Kristin and Wap actually chose the words inserted into the blanks, the words used to fill in the blanks are offensive gender stereotypes. The billboard stereotypes that men are the breadwinners, while woman are sex objects.

The image on the left wants female viewers to believe that by wearing Calvin Klein they will become seductive. It also suggests that in order for a woman to be successful the must be sexy. The image on the right wants men to believe that by wearing Calvin Klein they will earn more money, and their success is defined based on how much money they earn. Without prior knowledge of gender stereotypes and sexist ad campaigns, each image on its own may not seem sexist at first glance, because both women and men want to be seductive and both women and men want to earn money. However, putting the two images beside each other, with the woman being sexy and the man earning money reinforces unfortunate stereotypes about men and women.

This stereotype has negative effects on society because a woman’s success should not be defined by her beauty, while a man’s success is not defined by his financial earnings. Both genders’ successes should be based on whatever they value, from a successful career, to helping others and raising a family. Gender should not play a role in what is successful.

My alteration to this advertisement goes on to show what the advertisement displays by having the two images beside each other. My addition has finished the sentence that Calvin Klein is saying to the advertisement viewers. This is not a good message, and is not true. The reality is, as mentioned in my earlier section, that women and men should be valued based on whatever they value. The problem with the stereotype this NYC billboard advertisement has in it, is the possibility that this advertisement will get inside the heads of girls and boys and they will believe this. Of course, it will take more than one image to begin to believe that women are valued for their beauty while men are valued for their ability to earn money, but in this age of media we see thousands of images a day. These images will eventually get into the viewers’ heads and have an effect on them. Slowly, girls will begin to believe that their most important attribute is their beauty. This may discourage them of pursuing interests such as band, sports, or volunteer work, and they will only focus on their beauty. Men may feel pressure that their success is defined based on their income, making them feel inadequate if they are not rich. They may also not see the value in women other than for their beauty, which can lead to very negative outcomes.

Luckily, this advertisement was taken down within 24 hours of it being put up. It was extremely distasteful, and Calvin Klein should never have chosen these words or images.







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