If the images are too small, I’ve created an imgur link with both the original and reworked image here.
In 2014, North Vancouver company Ryders Eyewear released an advertisement that received a lot of backlash and was ultimately removed from the public eye. After the backlash, Ryders Eyewear released a statement on Facebook stating:
We’ve received some backlash regarding our recent ad in Bicycling Magazine–some people have wrongly concluded that Ryders is attacking transgender people.
This ad is not, in any way, an attack on transgender people. It’s simply showing two people who are attracted to one another, each with a secret that the other might want to know up front. The person on the left has a secret–he owns an abnormal quantity of cats. The person on the right has a secret–he is actually a man dressed as a woman. We were toying with some of the social constructs that have made gender roles appear as truths, in an attempt to bring some humour to the concept that seeing isn’t always believing.
Of course, after this statement the company received an enormous amount of complaints and the next day they began to remove the advertisement altogether.
The original advertisement, as well as the company’s statement, is rather transphobic in its presentation. The company jokes that both people have their “secret” – the woman on the right is “a man” and the man on the left owns 8 cats. Blatantly stating that this woman that the bartender is attracted to is a “man” is blatantly stating their transphobic point of view. In the company’s response, they continued to dig their own grave by stating that “he is actually a man dressed as a woman”. Not only do they misgender this woman entirely, but they see her as crossdressing – which is not the case. While I don’t believe the company actually hired a transgender woman to model for their advertisement, they could have at least made an attempt to correct their terminology. When I found out that this company is based in Vancouver, I felt very disappointed and rather angry. The company’s transphobia and lack of sensitivity towards such a large topic is what I will be addressing in my rework of the original advertisement.
I am not the best photo editor, that is for sure. However, I wanted to edit not only the original shirts in the image but also the tagline below. I had two routes that I could go with this image: the first being editing out the transphobic portion entirely and replacing it with something quirky or related to the man’s shirt, like “I am allergic to cats”. The second was to highlight the transphobic nature of the original advertisement, by taking the spotlight off of the woman and redirecting it towards the man in the image. It is well known that throughout the history of advertising there have been far too many companies taking a hit at women in their advertisements. I wanted to turn the attention away from this woman entirely.
As the original ad was focused on this woman’s dirty little secret that she is a “man” as well as hinting that the male wouldn’t approve of this, I felt it was safe to assume that he was transphobic. I wanted to call that out in the new image as well as bringing light to the company itself. While the company did remove the advertisement eventually, they first defended themselves in the worst way possible. Therefore, I replaced the word “everything” with “bigotry” to highlight the company’s original insensitive response to the backlash. Lastly, I added “Politically incorrect company” underneath the original, unedited tag line “Optically correct lenses” as I felt it fit with the theme of bringing to light Ryders Eyewear’s transphobia and insensitivity in the first place.
Through this rework I hope to bring recognition to how advertisements affect people on a daily basis. By protesting this advertisement as soon as it was released, the majority of the public didn’t have to see it. I believe that is a blessing as this advertisement could be incredibly harmful and hurtful to trans* people. Since this is a fairly old advertisement, I hope it comes as a reminder that change can happen if we speak up against injustices, large or small.