[Image source: news.com.au]
I chose this Balmain Paris advertisement for my culture jam project because it sends mixed, even harmful messages to young girls/women. Two of the supermodels are holding fast-food fat-laden burgers up, with the one on the left appearing to be ready to take a big bite. A third model is squeezing ketchup all over the other model’s burger, even though ketchup is pretty much sugar and tomatoes, heavy on the sugar. Fast-food is very unhealthy and fattening, so young supermodels at the height of their career would not be “chowing down” on these “fat-bombs” as they are sometimes known. In an interview with News Corp Australia’s Rebecca Sullivan, Olivier Rousteing, head of the Parisian fashion house Balmain Paris claims that this image is about “the incredible power that all these strong women bring in front of the camera, put into real life situations.” So, according to Rousteing, supermodels pretending to eat fatty burgers supposedly project “power” and strength in women? The reality is images of supermodels are used to sell products because in marketing, there is a saying that “sex sells.” However, to claim that pretending to eat fatty burgers makes these women more “powerful” is insulting to consumers. Supermodels are paid to stay super slim and epitomize one extreme version of “beauty”, not gain weight and look like regular women. The problem with this advertisement is research has proven photos of ultra-slim, beautiful models can cause many girls and women to suffer from distorted body image issues. Consumers are inundated with images promoting unrealistic ideals of beauty, which can lead to eating disorders and self-hate because the average woman does not look anything like these supermodels. Now here is a group of supermodels pretending to eat like a group of average consumers and the subliminal message consumers might receive is that one can eat unhealthy fatty foods and still be unrealistically slim like a supermodel. The imagery’s false messages could result in more eating disorders or body image issues. If they want to combine the imagery of models with fast food, then they should use models with average sized bodies or even plus-size models.
Culture Jammed Image
This is my jammed version of the original ad. I altered the super-slim sexy faces of the supermodels with faces of regular women which I found online to show more realistically what a group of consumers gorging on fatty fast food burgers will look like, even if they are wearing high fashion outfits. To clear up the mixed message about health and fast foods, I wanted to show what consumers’ faces are more likely to look like after eating unhealthy fatty burgers, in contrast to the almost pinched faces of supermodels in the original ad. The women’s bodies are bigger too because that is what happens when you eat too many burgers (not stay supermodel ultra-slim as the original ad seems to suggest). So my jammed version shows consuming fatty burgers can lead to larger dress sizes to fit larger, NON-supermodel bodies. People, in general, should eat healthier and less loaded with fat than burgers, but if they do, don’t expect to stay supermodel ultra-slim.
I also replaced the Balmain Paris logo with Burger King’s since BK is one of the top fast food burger chains globally. Instead of five supermodels pretending to eat fatty burgers, this jammed version is a “fake” ad for Burger King showing five regular women with average or plus-sized bodies (although in high fashion outfits) gorging on fatty burgers. Average consumers eat unhealthy, fattening fast food burgers as part of their regular diet, so this jammed version is more realistic. They no longer have the half-starved, sunken cheek look of the original supermodels. These women’s appearances are now closer to regular-sized or plus-sized models/women who regularly enjoy consuming fast food burgers. Women should be able to eat what they want, in moderation. A burger once in a while is not going to kill you. However, promoting supermodels as the epitome of female beauty and body shape, then pretending they stay so unrealistically slim while eating fatty burgers is just wrong and maybe a bit cruel. I believe more companies should employ models who look like average consumers, rather than ultra-slim supermodels to reduce body-image issues among girls/women.