petite anglaise

November 9, 2004

waxing moon

Filed under: city of light — petiteanglaiseparis @ 9:15 am

Call me a prude, but there’s a saucy ad campaign running in the métro at the moment which really puts me off my croissants first thing in the morning.

The Galéries Lafayette department store has been working with photographer Jean-Paul Goude (think Vanessa Paradis on a trapeze for Coco de Chanel) and Corsican supermodel Laetitia Casta for the past couple of years. Personally I’m not a big fan of the campaign, which has shown an elongated, photoshopped-to-within-an-inch-of-her-life Casta (or a body double with Casta’s head, it depending on who you choose to believe) in various states of undress, disguised as a man, and giving a piggyback to Henri Salvadore. The Galéries have undeniably forged themselves a distinctive brand identity, whereas the other department stores – La Samaritaine, Le Bon Marché, BHV and Printemps don’t do a great deal to differentiate themselves from one another. But what I don’t need, at 8am when I am feeling a bit queasy wearing my heavy winter coat in a packed and steaming métro carriage, is Casta/some Brazilian floozy’s rear, liberally greased with baby oil, mooning down at me in every station. I shan’t be shopping there this Christmas.

Obviously having lived in France for some time now, I have had time to get used to the ubiquitous breast and bottom shots. Show me a shower gel/moisturising cream TV ad which does not show a lady rubbing a creamy lather on to her chest (full frontal or profile shot) and rounded buttocks (any shot permitted as long as the front bits are obscured by the aforementioned soap suds).

I am in two (or more) minds about how to react to this. On the one hand, using images of naked women to sell just about everything is wrong on so many levels. These people specialise in protesting against the sexual stereotyping of women by running counter campaigns; other protestors specialise in tagging sexist adverts on métro billboards and they have my full support.

On the other hand, at least the French are not a mass of contradictions. I wouldn’t want to live in the hypocritical climate of post-Nipplegate America. The French documentary ’90 minutes’ recently devoted an episode to prudishness in the US of A. It amazes me that in a country where Xtina can make a video like ‘dirrty’, a law was being submitted to a state legislature which sought to outlaw the wearing of visible g-strings with hipster trousers. This crime against decency would be punishable by a prison sentence. Now I’m not partial to visible g-strings, but these people are victims. Fashion retailers insist on manufacturing trousers cut in such a way that sitting down without mooning is impossible. What is a girl supposed to do?

I also wonder whether the readership of the Sun newspaper in the UK would be vastly reduced if L’Oréal were allowed to show a bit more flesh during advertising breaks. Would you still buy the Sun ‘for the sports pages’ then boys?

But tell me, am I the only prude girl around here who finds the greasy bottom cleavage shot above a little bit unsavoury?


  1. Surely they must be a middle way between showing boobs to sell pasta and recoiling in horror at the sight of a nipple, between exploitation and demonisation of the female body. Note to self: catch up on my feminist reading so I can write clever comments on blogs that ask interesting questions.

    Comment by céline — November 9, 2004 @ 9:38 am

  2. Great post :smile:,
    I’m amazed you even noticed that poster at all with the high intensity of sexual images we are bombarded with each day.

    We did notice Paris to have a slightly higher quantity of “suggestive” advertising than in London, but by day two it had just become another part of the flesh-tone landscape your eyes fails to recognise.

    Comment by Adrian — November 9, 2004 @ 10:35 am

  3. I’ve noticed that poster too, and hate it. I have nothing in general against “suggestive” advertising -although, yes, I could very well live without, thank you very much – but this one isn’t suggestive, it’s ugly. I mean, greasy bottom ?? Seriously ? Yuck.

    Comment by V. — November 9, 2004 @ 10:44 am

  4. oh la la on en a marre de cette campagne avec Laetitia Casta.. ses fesses graisseuses sont, pour moi, antisexuelles !
    la plupart des pubs de lingerie sont obsènes ; seules exceptions, de mon point de vue : Aubade, et Princesse Tam tam..

    Comment by sans moi — November 9, 2004 @ 2:11 pm

  5. It doesn’t bother me at all. I don’t see the problem with showing images of beautiful women to sell stuff – in the case of this ad (and the majority from the Galerie Lafayette), it seems more creative than tasteless.

    I just find it funny that the locals don’t even bat an eyelid, whereas this stuff would shock the pants off people back home. I can’t help but giggle at visiting friends who have said, “have you seen that Sanex ad!? With the bottom of the breasts showing!”

    Nakedness is not seen as “dirty” here. The French seem to respect and admire the female form more than anglo-saxon countries.

    Comment by Katia — November 9, 2004 @ 2:18 pm

  6. ps. I actually found the latest Etam ad, with three under-wear clad girls on the back of a camel somewhat more disturbing than the GL one! hehe.

    Comment by Katia — November 9, 2004 @ 2:19 pm

  7. The Etam ad was about advertising underwear so that’s what it showed. The camel was bizarre, I grant you.

    The “sexy Galéries” photo has a woman who looks like she can’t wait to take what little remains of her clothes off. It makes me think of the stereotype of the Happy Stripper. There are quite a few levels of “ew” there.

    As for shopping there, I don’t anyway. I’ve never understood what’s supposed to be so special about the place.

    Comment by Sierra — November 9, 2004 @ 2:34 pm

  8. objectifying women, yes. unimaginative and tasteless, probably. but please allow us to dream… it’s one of the joys for an englishman visiting france.

    quite happy for you to objectify us in return – would images of tweed wearing, tea drinking englishmen clad only in shorts and brogues with socks sell anything to french women?

    Comment by tom hagen — November 9, 2004 @ 3:23 pm

  9. It’s a toughie.

    But, I do have to admit that whenever the black and white, aftershave (I forget the brand which is probably not what the advertisers were hoping for) ad with the gorgeous naked guy drinking a cup of tea/ frolicking around the house and showing his buns of steel comes on, I swoon.

    Does that make me a bad person?!

    Comment by PPQ — November 9, 2004 @ 3:38 pm

  10. p a. You are a prude.

    This surprises me though bearing in mind your cunning bilingual plan to launch a calendar of nudie fembloggers. How’s that project going by the way?

    Comment by backroads — November 9, 2004 @ 3:49 pm

  11. I’ve taken a picture of myself. Nekkid. For September.

    Well my foot actually.

    It’s going to be an arty calendar.

    Comment by petite — November 9, 2004 @ 4:06 pm

  12. :grin: I think it’s ok as long as we get to see the boys too.

    Comment by claire — November 9, 2004 @ 4:17 pm

  13. i, too, think that perhaps there is too much ‘english’ left in you. the publicity stunts that shocked me the most were those done by UCB (United Colours of Benneton), but, as wisely pointed out by my Ex, the whole point WAS to shock and in that way the name of the shop remained in your head.

    nudism is accepted on the continent. that is something that you will have to get used to :)

    Comment by zed — November 9, 2004 @ 9:31 pm

  14. i think greasy bums etc is unimaginative drivel. pa, sweetie, you’re no prude, you just have taste.

    Comment by vitriolica — November 9, 2004 @ 9:33 pm

  15. I find your blog to be incredibly fascinating. I too am in the Bitch Club and I am very happy to have my blog amongst yours. May creativity be with you.

    Comment by M.J. — November 9, 2004 @ 10:49 pm

  16. zed – nudity I can cope with, but I think it’s really the baby oil I’m objecting to in this campaign. When I walk under the poster I keep expecting it to drip on me.

    I’m a mass of contradictions, me. Mi-prude mi-allumeuse.

    Comment by petite — November 9, 2004 @ 11:16 pm

  17. There’s nothing wrong with greasy bums.

    Comment by a greasy bum — November 9, 2004 @ 11:31 pm

  18. I suppose for ‘manly thong’ wearers such as yourself, backroads, a bit of vaseline might make the experience less uncomfortable.

    Comment by petite — November 10, 2004 @ 9:30 am

  19. I’m with you PA,

    Australia is still a bit on the prudish side in terms of boobs and bums in ads… a bit… and I think the place is the better for it!

    Comment by deeleea — November 10, 2004 @ 10:56 am

  20. come on, guys, she’s so clearly in the fitting room at GL trying on that black dress. what the heck is wrong with that? doesn’t everyone lube up to go dress shopping?

    Comment by maitresse — November 10, 2004 @ 10:44 pm

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