Culture Jam

Original Ad:

This is an advertisement I saw online by Fabletics for their athletic leggings. It shows a collage of four zoomed-in photos of backsides clad in the leggings, with the caption “Perfect butt. Perfect leggings. Perfect deal. Just perfect.” The four backsides look almost identical aside from the color of the leggings. Each model is light skinned, and thin but still curvy. 

This is an advertisement for a company that is selling “activewear, yoga and workout clothes” for women, and yet the caption to this advertisement doesn’t touch on how their leggings will help women do any of that. Instead, it suggests that women should buy from Fabletics because the leggings will give them a “perfect butt”. Their primary selling point is completely unrelated to the function of the clothes, and instead focuses on the importance of physical appearance, and emphasizing this with the variety of bright colors. This gives the message that women should value athletic wear that makes them look a certain way; and that how they look while wearing it is more important than any benefits that will help them be stronger or healthier.

Not only does this advertisement portray a certain message about the priorities a customer should have when shopping from them, it’s also incredibly exclusive. The four models wearing the leggings all fit society’s typical beauty standards of a white girl that’s thin but not too thin. This sends an unwelcoming message to the majority of the population who don’t look like this; that in order to be perfect and beautiful enough to be looked at while wearing these leggings, they need to meet these unrealistic standards.


Jammed Version

For the jammed version of this advertisement, I chose to replace the caption with phrases that reveal the destructive messages behind this advertisement more explicitly.  I decided to leave the images of the same as is; these images of the same slender white model wearing the leggings, zoomed in on the backside rather than showing the entire pair of leggings, were what initially brought my attention to the implicit message of this ad. 

I left the the first phrase, “Perfect butt” as is, since this also first caught my attention about the ad and helped me realize the kind of message it was conveying. 

The second phrase was replaced with “Perfect for being looked at (although not great for working out)” to emphasize how the company has chosen to sell their leggings based on the way they will make someone look over their actual use. This highlights how the original advertisement was suggesting that physical attractiveness is a more important asset than physical ability. 

The third phrase was replaced with “Perfect if you are white and thin (but not too thin)” to emphasize how this advertisement is excluding anyone who doesn’t fit society’s unrealistic beauty standards, and in combination with the previous phrase also suggesting that if you don’t look a particular way, you shouldn’t be seen.

This jammed version makes the various social messages of the original much less subtle. I’m sure I’ve seen this ad before but never really noticed it. Only after looking at it carefully and doing a jam on it, did I realize how normalized and pervasive advertisements like this are.

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