Warning: New Shoe Ads May Be Harmful to Women's Health - Are these ads offensive to women?
Warning: New Shoe Ads May Be Harmful to Women's Health
Photo courtesy of Nine West
Nine West, apparently dissatisfied with the amount of self-esteem issues that women already struggle with, has issued a clear but disheartening message with its latest ad campaign: We know you like pretty shoes, and we know why you like them — so you can do your walks of shame, hunt for husbands, and (once you’re properly married — to a man, natch), send the kids off to school in style. Right? Groan.
The new ads, revealed on Friday, are pretty obviously supposed to be tongue-in-cheek. But they push the envelope — a bit too far for many.
“‘Starter husband hunting’ and ‘walk of shame’ is not the sort of thing you say out loud even to your best friend, because those are things that men say about women, not that women say about women,” Jen Drexler, senior vice president at the Insight Strategy Group and co-author of “What She’s Not Telling You,” told the New York Times. “If you really liked women, you’d be calling that a ‘victory lap,’ not a ‘walk of shame.’”
Photo courtesy of Nine West
Consumerist wrote, “Not even going to ask about shoes for a woman to wear when she hears there are only two important shoe occasions in life and snagging your first job / signing an important client / being a normal person aren’t included. There are apparently no shoes for that in Nine West’s world. Or at least, not a curated list. You’re on your own, women.”
A Nine West spokesperson could not be reached for comment.
On Twitter, critics called the ads “gross,” “silly and insulting,” “reductive and heteronormative,” “unacceptable,” and reason enough to boycott the brand. “I definitely don’t need or want ‘husband hunting shoes.’ In fact, after this ad I don’t need ANY Nine West shoes,” tweeted New Republic editor Hillary Kelly. Of course there has also been the usual chorus of calls for everyone to just “lighten up.”
But the idea that these sorts of ads can be damaging to the female psyche is not exactly far-fetched — or even new. The American Psychological Association declared years ago that “the proliferation of sexualized images of girls and young women in advertising, merchandising, and media is harmful to girls’ self-image and healthy development.”
Jean Kilbourne, an early pioneer in the study of sexism in advertising and creator of the renowned film series “Killing Us Softly: Advertising’s Image of Women,” has said that messages that sexualize girls lead to “depression, eating disorders, and low self esteem.” And deciding to ignore or laugh them off is easier said than done, she’s noted. “They stay with us and we process them over and over again, and we process them subconsciously. To a great extent, advertising tells us who we are and how we should be.” And that, according to Nine West, is a bunch of slut-shamed moms, desperate to nab a man.