This advertisement for Marc Jacobs’ Daisy perfume is significant in it’s normalcy. The viewer is confronted with an image that is first and foremost appealing to the eye. The colours, textures, and shapes are easy to look at, and reflect an aesthetic that we are immediately familiar with. Three young, thin, attractive women are pictured in a colour-saturated summer reverie. Happily, they present us with a product and the promise of our own such liberation-through-purchase.
Dresses of white lace establish a sense of virginal innocence, which carries with it a nod to the institution of marriage. In keeping with our course emphasis on intersectionality, I would argue that this idealization of marriage (traditionally by way of the church) works additionally to maintain a heteronormative modal of young womanhood. While depicting contemporary young women who appear to come from diverse backgrounds, these Victorian-style lace dresses place these women in a context of antiquated eurocentrism.
These women look to be barely teenagers; their oversized perfume bottle reminiscent of small children being dwarfed by the size of a large toy. The inherent contradiction here is that this object is at once toy and beauty product. This forces me to ask: who is this advertisement directed towards? Women who are the same age as those depicted here? Or others who look on in desire?
The words on the perfume bottle provide the only indication of what these young women are actually in service of: a small, delicate flower potentially acting as a metaphor for themselves, and then the faint name of the eponymous author and brand, Marc Jacobs.
In this Culture Jamming project, I would like to address the implications of idealizing the young female body in this way and question who and what advertisements such as this one are meant to serve.
In light of the recent wave of women using the hashtag #MeToo to aknowledge the enormity and widespread nature of the issue of sexual harassment and assault, I found this to be a fitting replacement for the perfume’s text. This social media phenomenon was triggered by the exposure of Film Producer, Harvey Weinstein, as a perpetrator of sexual violence against countless recognizable women in Hollywood and beyond.
Through this alteration, I am interested in posing a clear question of the power and authorship behind this image, as well as the implications this has for young women. Images such as this one are not benign, but serve as a platform for young women to be projected upon and sexualized. Horror at exposing the ubiquity of sexual violence through #MeToo is justified, and my interest here is to display that subtle manifestations of this violence exist all around us.
Having a man’s name celebrated on the central amulet of this childhood fantasy is perverse. I would like to highlight the widespread nature of not only sexual violence, but that images such as this one are created by men, for the benefit of men (financial and otherwise), and work to engender an atmosphere where violence against women is permissible. Harvey Weinstein was in an extremely powerful position, from which he acted upon young women and moved without fear of consequence. By rewriting this name and brand as that of someone who has been publicly outed as a predetor, I hope to make explicit the top-down power structure that creates a system in which the exploitation of women’s bodies is seen as the status quo.
Khomami, Nadia. “ #MeToo: How a Hashtag Became a Rallying Cry against Sexual Harassment .” The Guardian , 20 Oct. 2017, www.theguardian.com.