Thursday, February 08, 2007

Paris v. Dove, The Sequel

A year or two ago, during the "controversy" over Paris Hilton's Carl's Jr. commercial, Katie Couric made some snippy comments on Today (snippy comments, you'll remember, were her specialty). She thought it was inappropriate for Paris to be in a bathing suit, spraying herself with a hose, offensive, what if children see it, degrading, blah blah.

Then, an hour later, she was sitting with the women of the Dove "Real Beauty" campaign, literally telling them "You go, girl!"

What had they done that pleased Katie so? They appeared in ads, in their underwear. In a TV ad, they were spraying champagne on themselves.

At least Paris, washing a car, was spraying for a reason. And I don't think children look at Paris Hilton in a bathing suit and think "sex"... That's an idea only adults can put in their heads.
(And, IMHO, it's not like Paris Hilton in a bathing suit looks any different from Cole Sprouse in a bathing suit.)

It was then that I realized that women are only offended by women who are "attractive" (by conventional standards). That Judge Judy washing a car in a bathing suit wouldn't be "degrading," but Paris Hilton is. That there is clearly a beauty/outrage curve.

Well, today those stars aligned again. Because of the Snickers Super Bowl ad, Today did a report on controversial commercials, and when showing the Paris Hilton and commercials, the correspondent said, "Naturally, women complained." And why shouldn't they? The GoDaddy girl broke one strap on her top. Outrageous!

Then, an hour later, there's Meredith Vieira happily interviewing the stars of Dove's newest campaign. They're women over 50 who posed nude. I repeat: nude. "Fantastic!" "Good for you!"

I'm not saying that it's not great to see women over 50 celebrate their bodies. I think it's great. (And obviously it was more palatable because Meredith is fun and friendly and occasionally ribald, and is not the insufferable, scolding bluenose Katie was.)

But can't all women be beautiful? Even the beautiful ones?

If a young, attractive woman in a bathing suit is "offensive" and an older, attractive woman nude is "empowering," then clearly the "offense" is not about morality. It's about envy.

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