Tag Archives: consumerism


I have sad news.  Maybe you’ve already heard (I don’t have cable), Skechers has butt-toning Shape-ups for young girls…

When questioned about the implications of their product, President of Skechers Leonard Armato responded by comparing the product to the First Lady’s Let’s Move campaign (which is gender-neutral and doesn’t suggest children buy anything).

As Amy Robertson commented on  Augusta Christenson’s article about the shoes:

01:12 PM on 5/13/2011

I sell shoes in retail, and have young ladies come in and try on different types of toning shoes constantly­. The majority of them are overweight and think that these shoes are going to help them lose weight. In reality, these ladies could spend the same amount or less on a running shoe that is going to give them support rather than instabilit­y (the premise behind shape-ups and all the work out shoes) and just EXERCISE! These shoes are NO replacemen­t for exercising­. The girls in the ads and videos look better because they worked out, not because they wore the toning shoes! Its false advertising.

I don’t really have anything to say.  I’m just bitter about the whole thing.  Alas, with the financial success of women’s butt-toning shoes which capitalize on women’s lack of self-esteem and our culture’s sexualization of women, why wouldn’t they create similar products for young girls?

Erin Ryan from Jezebel states:

…people will buy anything that offers the faint promise of the appearance of physical fitness without the actual doing of physical work. They’ll also buy anything that promises to help parents live vicariously through their children, and what America’s parents want are hot daughters.

Breaking news from my head: Little girls should not worry about toning their thighs and butts. They have decades of adulthood to develop a fucked up enmity with their bodies; why can’t we give them their first decade of life free from the “You’re Fat, Ergo Buy This Product” cacophony.

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Full-Body Scanners…at your local mall

(Reposted from the New York Times at Sociological Images)

My grandmother worked in a clothing factory a few decades ago, and she always told me how little size tags actually mattered – if you were supposed to sew 20 pairs of size 10 pants and you had only so much fabric and so much time, by the end of the day the tags got put on whatever size pants you’ve made.

On a side note, she also told me that when thongs first came out that they were easy to steal since they were so tiny.  Her boss figured this out pretty quickly on in the production process as barely any thongs made it to the end of the assembly line.  Factory workers were then prevented from wearing long sleeves.

But, alas, I have always thought about the tired factory worker with only size 10 tags every time I go shopping for clothes.  And whether you shop fair-trade or not, sizes vary across brands and even within brands.

Have you ever carried the same pair of pants in three different sizes into the dressing room, wondering which one will fit today?  I sure as hell have.

According to the New York Times, companies have finally begun tackling the problem of unreliable sizes and “vanity sizing”:

Some are pushing more informative labels. Some are designing multiple versions of a garment to fit different body shapes. And one is offering full-body scans at shopping malls, telling a shopper what sizes she should try among the various brands.

NYT writer Stephanie Clifford reports that the company My Best Fit has designed a full-body scanner that can provide you with a shopping guide of your sizes from different stores:

The customer steps into a circular booth, fully dressed. A wand rotates around her, emitting low-power radio waves that record about 200,000 body measurements, figuring out things like thigh circumference.

Next, the system matches the customer’s measurements to clothes in its database. MyBestFit currently measures clothes from about 50 stores, including Old Navy, Eddie Bauer and Talbots.

Customers then receive a printout of the sizes at each store that ought to fit the customer best.

The retailers pay a fee when they appear in the results, but they cannot pay to be included in the results; the rankings are based solely on fit.

This chart demonstrates how a size 8 can vary from store to store:

Although the article didn’t mention variations in men’s sizes, Sociological Images was quick to point out that men’s clothing suffered from size inflation as well.

Ok, great.  So we have proof of the Loch Ness Monster – we know we’re being duped into buying smaller and smaller sizes.

Will this revelation convince men and women that body shape can’t be summed up in a number?

Will full-body scanners teach young men and women who suffer from poor self-esteem that all bodies are different, and that absolute conformity is impossible?

Or will this just teach adults and children to memorize what clothing stores have the smallest sizes?

If I ever have a child, I’m really tempted to cut out the tags of all clothing they wear until they start buying their own.  As revealed by this post, sizes are apparently more than even adults can bear.

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Ridiculous Things Made Pink For Breast Cancer Awareness

My mother bought me a pink broom years ago for breast cancer awareness.  A broom.

This past weekend I flew to Savannah, Georgia for a conference.  On the way there I noticed that all of my flight attendants were fashionably dressed in pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  When I stopped by Caribou Coffee with a friend, my cup of tea was accompanied by a pink breast cancer awareness paper cozy.  On the flight back home my flight attendant offered me a pink lemonade martini for breast cancer awareness.

This is ridiculous!

Pink ribbons are available all year for breast cancer awareness. My question is what does “awareness” mean? And actually how much of the proceeds ultimately go to the cause?  We are in need of a reality check.

I understand that your hearts are in the right place, but wouldn’t your money be better spent being directly donated to the cause?

Yes.  And stop telling me what color your underwear is and where you keep your purse – just donate to a reputable organization.

Do we have to sexually objectify ourselves by sexualizing where we put our purse or driving attention to our breasts, the focus of the “Save the Ta-Tas” campaign, just to get a cure?

And if you have to have that pink Snuggie, demand products that aren’t harmful to the environment, are sweatshop free, and don’t contain cancer-causing chemicals.  As a consumer you have a right and responsibility to demand safe products, such as this program to demand Avon makeup free of cancer-causing carcinogens.

And in the future “Think Before You Pink” – check out this site to see how you can better contribute to the cause.

Here are just a few absurd “pink” products.


Yes - Buckets of Chicken; bucketsforthecure.com


Vodka – because new research claims drinking can make you breast cancer-free; http://www.supporthervodka.com/






A pink Cowboys jersey to remind you of quarterbacks in pink; http://shop.dallascowboys.com/catalog/Breast-Cancer-Awareness,121.htm





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Ms. Magazine’s “No Comment” and Jean Kielborne’s “Killing Us Softly”

Every year since Ms. Magazine hit newsstands as part of the roaring Women’s Liberation Movement in 1972, the magazine has always included a “No Comment” section on its last page.  This page featured advertisements, submitted by readers, that were insulting or degrading to women, but always in the vein of political or social action.  Ms. Magazine: “Some make us roll our eyes. Others inspire us to write letters or to boycott products.”

And you know what?  Ads over the past forty years haven’t gotten all that better.  For example, here’s a classy product for suitcase stickers from July 2010:

Here’s what Stephanie Hallett from the Ms. Magazine blog had to say about this:

Identifying your ubiquitous black suitcase on a baggage carousel can be challenging, it’s true. But is it really challenging enough to warrant this violent suitcase sticker from thecheeky.com? We think not. Canadian entrepreneur Colin Hart, who runs thecheeky.com, said the stickers are meant to personalize and spice up your travel bags. His collection of large stickers features old leather luggage torn open to reveal illicit contents. What’s “inside” the bags? Stacks of cash, bags of cocaine, sex toys–and a bound-and-gagged flight attendant.

Jean Kielborne in her film series “Killing Us Softly” (now in it’s fourth edition) provides an in-depth examination of the sexual objectification and degradation of women in advertisements.  Watch a snippet from her latest, “Killing Us Softly 4” below:

So what do we do with this?  Get involved!  One privilege of living in a capitalistic consumer-driven country is the power to put our money where our mouth is.  You can submit your images to Ms. Magazine via letterstotheeditor@msmagazine.com, join this Flickr “No Comment” group or start one in another online community.  Check out some of the “No Comment” archives for inspiration here.

I’ll begin with Urban Outfitters.  Can their models get any younger or any skinnier?  Or paler?

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