“Why the hell is everything so sexualised?”
– My initial reaction to Nandos’ latest advertising campaign featured in an English Indian newspaper.
The advertisement reads “touch our buns, breasts or even our thighs..whatever you are into…” before recommending customers eat their meals with their hands. To some, this may seem like a clever advertising strategy, to me though it was simply cringeworthy.
Why is something seemingly only related to chicken infuriating? Apart from the fact that I love chickens and would hate to see them sexualised like that (which is another story), the fact that advertising companies have capitalised on the female body for decades is infuriating.
As a human being, I value a sense of autonomy when it comes to my body. Unfortunately, modern day capitalism doesn’t care about that and this ad is just another example of somebody using bodies like mine to make money.
For those of you who just rolled their eyes while reading that I’d like you to picture this:
Your eight year old daughter is sitting in the passenger seat of your family car as you navigate the freeway on the way to your final destination. She looks up and there it is: a glossy, well-lit billboard featuring the very words in that ad. What is your initial reaction?
For most of us, it is to divert the attention of the child away from the sexualised language being used in the ad. But why? She doesn’t yet have breasts, buns and thighs- not of the type we would think are being indicated in a sexual sense anyway. She has not come to grips with the concept of her female body yet either so again: why do we feel the need to protect her?
The answer is simple: we don’t want her thinking that her body is property because really – it isn’t. But ads like these treat it like it is and that is disturbing. What is equally disturbing is that we, as adults, are conditioned to think that this is normal media, not to be aimed at children, but normal nonetheless.
However, if the ad referenced the male body and read something like “touch our buns, sacs, and even our sausages,” this would not be the case. In fact this would not even be a case for debate and this piece would be a blatant condemnation with no real need for explanation. But this ad isn’t and that is a problem.
In addition, the ad appeared in India where our attention has more than once been attracted to an increasingly problematic rape culture. The ad therefore is no longer just in slightly bad taste, but is a reinforcement of the dominance the patriarchy has over the female body, fueling the emergence of a future generation drowning in ideas of ownership as opposed to the autonomy women are so desperately trying to hold on to.
Now, ask yourselves in light of all of that: was my initial impression that much of an overreaction or just a subconscious reflex to the commodification of the female body?
Let me say it again for the people in the back: why the hell is everything so sexualised?