The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

Bras ‘N’ Things, Tits ‘N’ Arse: Exactly Who Is This Advertising Appealing To?

Posted by Clem Bastow on July 14, 2008

Flipping through a Cosmo from a few months back in the toilet (because that’s where it belongs), my eyes were continually assaulted by the “boooiiing!”-esque campaigns for Bras’N’Things’ “Intimate Secret” range of seamless, well, bras and things. Haven’t seen it? Here’s a sampling:

Am I the only woman who feels this is a bit, how you say, in your face? I appreciate that bra advertising by its very nature needs to feature bosoms, but does it have to be done in such a lad’s mag way? The whole spread legs/arse out/boobs up thing, I dunno, if anything it makes me feel pressured, not enticed to purchase. And while I don’t have the time right now to discuss the obvious trickledown effect of the Victoria’s Secret campaigns (feel free to take over in the comments), is it naïve of me to think that bra advertising should appeal to women first, men second?

I mean, I haven’t tried the Intimate Secret range, but I own a few bras from the range that inspired it (the Kayser Very Smooth bras) and they are very comfortable, durable and come in a range of kicky colours – albeit with no noticeable power-babe functionality, despite what the ads would imply (they should print a ‘serving suggestion’ on the labels).

Ads like this reinforce the idea that lingerie is solely something you wear to turn on dudes, not something you wear (as they keep trying to tell us in Cleo and Co.) for your own comfort, pleasure and expression. I’ve taken to wearing sports bras lately, not because I really need the support (A Cups of the world unite!), but because they make me feel like an action hero. Which may sound unspeakably dumb to some, but I’d rather feel like I had Ripley hiding under my t-shirt than Girls Gone Wild.

(It’s probably no coincidence, regarding my sartorial choice, that sports bras are also generally advertised with far less ‘tits ‘n’ arse blast’ angle, too.)

In the end the thing that puzzles me most about male-gaze-geared bra advertising is that you’d think, given the old clichés about men having no idea – bless ’em! – about how to shop for their girlfriends and wives when it comes to lingerie (you know, apart from pulling the hilarious old “Well, she’s about as big as you” move on the shop assistant), that pitching smalls advertising more or less squarely at men is a pointless exercise. But I guess I was wrong.

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8 Responses to “Bras ‘N’ Things, Tits ‘N’ Arse: Exactly Who Is This Advertising Appealing To?”

  1. audrey said

    But bra advertising appeals to women first and foremost because their ultimate desire is to appeal to men. Or rather, they are expected to want to be the focus of positive male gaze and this is just another way for them to become that.

    Just once, I’d like to see a lingerie company make an ad for women that has nothing to do with how much someone else might appreciate them in their knickers. Maybe the Dawn Chorus ladies should get together and make one?

  2. Do you really believe that advertisements that are posted in a female magazine are for men to look at. Do you really believe that the Lingerie firms want you all to think you only wear Lingerie to appeal to men. How many men see your underwear? What about all the females whose sexual preferences do not run to men.
    I think you have this wrong.
    I think the advertising is to show you that you can feel this young and sexy when you wear nice lingerie. No matter what you have over the top. I believe the advertising is more about you feeling like the person you want to be.
    If you want to feel sporty, then the sporty add campaign will appeal to you.
    If you just want to feel young, then this no seam colourful look probably appeals.
    If you want to feel sexy, you will probably go for something in the way of satin or lace, depending on your age group of course.
    I think the advertising is more about appealing to the many various women out there and how they wish to feel.
    Lets face it, we all feel better, more confident when we have on our “nice or good” lingerie then when we have just thrown on the everyday stuff.
    If a woman wants to dress etc to attract a man, that’s her choice. If she thinks it might add spark to a tired relationship, again, her choice.
    But I believe that the majority of women choose their clothing, lingerie, makeup, hairdo etc to make them feel good about themself. Their partner! Well they just have to accept us the way we are!

  3. Clem Bastow said

    That may be the case, Kit, but if so, why is the image of “feeling young and sexy” so in thrall to the male gaze’s (i.e. Ralph/FHM) magazine’s ideal of what is “young and sexy”? Why is it all boobs up and butts out?

  4. hmpph said

    I use to buy the lacy ‘sexy’ underwear, but then my partner told me that he really doesn’t find it sexy and that’s when I realised how damn uncomfortable that stuff is. Now I wear my comfy undies all the time and can feel confident, young, sexy or whatever regardless of what underwear I’m wearing. That highlighted for me that my idea of being ‘sexy’ was about looking a certain way which was supposed to appeal to men, and very much about approval from others.

  5. scal said

    Audrey – do you remember the “his pants for her” campaigns in the 80s?

    Also the bonds ad campaigns are supposed to be for women, rather than for men. It showns women being goofy and having fun. I mean, I know men find the ads sexy, but it’s not because the ads simulate sex or arousal or something.

    The other ad campaign I can think of which is definitely not for men is for those comfy, daggy knickers – they start with an “s” and have, like, a scandinavian name. Scoogi or something.

  6. Clem Bastow said

    Actually I was going to mention the Bonds ads, I really like them. It says that being fit, active, fun, blah blah blah is “sexy” (or at least “desirable”, however you want to define that), rather than the usual nylon lace FHM getups.

  7. Ali McNiven said

    They’re bottoms are not visible and what do you want them to do with their breasts? Sticky tape them down? That’s how a bra sits and everyone has boobs. I don’t see any men buying cosmo?? And if it is published in a female magzine it is obviously and quite profoundly aimed at women. And if you read the text:
    “Mix and match intimate secret – seam free, stitch free, label free – the smoothest fit and feel ever” it is quite obvious that the company is advertising a comfortable range of underwear, if they wanted it to be “sexy” the models would be wearing lingerie that was a bit more sparse and most likely lacey. This add is definately not designed to “reinforce the idea that lingerie is solely something you wear to turn on dudes” as it is advertising comfort, not sensuality. Simply sounds like you’re expressing your own jeleousy and self conciousness.

  8. BareLifts said

    Good article on advertising woman’s bras. It may be true that ads tend to target men who want to purchase them for their girlfriends or wives. However, women would probably prefer bras that offer support and lift.

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