This is a promotional image for Ivy Park, a new line of activewear created by singer Beyonce and retailer Top Shop released in Spring 2016 just before the release of her newest album. The image features the singer jumping rope in the rain with other women. Beyonce is styled to appear exhausted from the exercise but, nevertheless, confident. This image is in accordance with the statement released by Beyonce about the clothing line: “[the brand’s goal is to] push the boundaries of athletic wear and to support and inspire women who understand that beauty is more than your physical appearance”.
A month after its release, British tabloid “The Sun” reported that the clothing line is being made in sweatshops in Sri Lanka. Ivy Park claimed that the brand followed strict ethical guidelines but did not deny the allegations (Bain 2016). Notable, Sri Lanka currently has one of the lowest minimum wages in the world in the clothing industry (Bain 2016).
However, it is very easy to believe that the singer is not aware of the specifics of the production of the clothing. It’s just another product that uses her image; like the chemical laden L’Oreal hair dye that she doesn’t use or the cheap H&M bikinis that she doesn’t wear. Beyonce is a brand and it is apparent in the marketing of her newest venture.
This parody of the Ivy Park ad dispels the marketing of the brand and the singer. Unlike the “candid” look of the original image, this version of the ad features the singer in the the bleach blond, light skinned, “Queen B” look she has been sporting over the last decade. The first single released in her newest album features the lyric “okay ladies now let’s get in formation” which has become somewhat of an anthem. That idea is seen the original image but here we see her with exploited women of a sweatshop. Instead of the brands name this ad features the defining line of her last album, “Bow down bitches”
Beyonce and her marketing exploits fans that look up to her as one of the few women of colour considered a mainstream sex symbol. To sell a product and promote an album she presents herself as a proud black icon and/or strong leader of women while simultaneously bleaching her hair, lightening her skin, and singing “My man made me feel so God damn fine, I’m flawless!” Young women, particularly women of colour that do not have many celebrities that they can identify with, are sent mixed messages which are harmful to the the way that they see themselves.
Singing “ladies let’s get in formation” and “bow down bitches” in the same concert, and promoting images of herself that depict the “European standard of beauty” do not line up with the values that Beyonce, and Ivy Park, claim to promote.
Bain, Marc. 2016. Report alleges Beyonce’s “celebrate every woman” clothing line is made by women in sweatshops. Quartz. http://qz.com/685256/report-alleges-beyonces-celebrate-every-woman-clothing-line-is-made-by-women-in-sweat-shops/
Orignal ad: http://www.ivypark.com
Background image: https://letstalksweatshops.wordpress.com/p3/
Beyonce image: http://www.sosoactive.com/beyonces-backlash-over-bow-down/