Sexy lady, yes?

brazilad1.jpg
Apparently not. This woman is actually supposed to disgust you.
Apparently this is just one in a series of Brazilian ads for light yogurt that takes iconic images of women and replaces them with “fat” women. The tagline? Forget about it. Men’s preference will never change. Fit Light Yogurt.
Excuse me while I go dispose of all the yogurt in my fridge. Fuckers.
Via tigtog and the f-word.

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423 Comments

  1. UCLAbodyimage
    Posted June 24, 2007 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

    “Knowing them, has upon how physically attractive they appear.
    I have also heard that there are studies which show that familiarity is attractive to people (i.e. if you are used to seeing certain features, they appear more attractive to you than if not).”
    Yes, all those factors matter (i.e., the “mere exposure effect” that you reference), but I didn’t respond to that because the fact that some factors influence attractivness (e.g., perceived personality traits) doesn’t negate the point that certain features are typically found attractive (e.g., symmetry).
    “Yes, but is that correlation or causation? (considering our culture’s concept of “masculine” features varies somewhat from other cultures)”
    My argument would be that it is correlation. Specifically, one factor (increased testosterone) affects three separate systems: the factors that masculinize physical features, the triggers that enable behavioral dominance, and activation of sexual search mechanisms. In other words, there is one latent factor that ties the other three together.
    Of course, you could argue that men who are perceived to have masculine faces are treated with deference by other men, and over time they learn they can act in behaviorally dominant ways. Which seems plausible to me, and might even be a way that the system gets tuned.

  2. UCLAbodyimage
    Posted June 24, 2007 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    NINA wrote: “That should have read: “I read an anthropology work that basically said skin w/o acne and some preference for symmetry (not perfect symmetry, just relatively symmetrical features) were the /only/ preferences that seemed universal.”
    I think that is a fair summary. I would go farther and say:
    A. Skin that is disease free (i.e. free of open sores).
    B. Cues related to age, especially in women.
    C. Symmetry.
    D. Body fat (the degree of body fat that is attractive varies, but to my knowledge body fat is an important component cross-culturally).
    E. Some people argue waist-to-hip ratio, but jury is still out.
    F. Faces rated as attractive in culture tend to be rated attractive in disparate cultures (but hard to know if this is a product of more attractive faces generally being more symmetrical).
    Not known if it universal:
    Facial masculinity and muscularity in sex partners.
    Definitely not universal:
    A. level of body fat, level of muscularity, skin tone, various body modification practices, etc.

  3. UCLAbodyimage
    Posted June 24, 2007 at 10:37 pm | Permalink

    NINA wrote: “That should have read: “I read an anthropology work that basically said skin w/o acne and some preference for symmetry (not perfect symmetry, just relatively symmetrical features) were the /only/ preferences that seemed universal.”
    I think that is a fair summary. I would go farther and say:
    A. Skin that is disease free (i.e. free of open sores).
    B. Cues related to age, especially in women.
    C. Symmetry.
    D. Body fat (the degree of body fat that is attractive varies, but to my knowledge body fat is an important component cross-culturally).
    E. Some people argue waist-to-hip ratio, but jury is still out.
    F. Faces rated as attractive in culture tend to be rated attractive in disparate cultures (but hard to know if this is a product of more attractive faces generally being more symmetrical).
    Not known if it universal:
    Facial masculinity and muscularity in sex partners.
    Definitely not universal:
    A. level of body fat, level of muscularity, skin tone, various body modification practices, etc.

  4. EG
    Posted June 24, 2007 at 10:58 pm | Permalink

    Soymilk, no, I completely got that you weren’t making a “what about the skinny girls” argument–I just included that last bit because it’s an issue that’s come up before in similar threads.
    I do not think that all objectification is the same. I think that it is important to acknowledge that we are all both sexual subjects and sexual objects. Because patriarchal discourse has positioned men at the center of the universe, women’s sexual subjectivity has been denied and we have been flattened into the role of object. I do not think the solution is to pretend that we are never objects, but rather to combine objecthood and subjecthood.
    Conversely, men tend to have little to no sense of themselves as sexual objects, and that’s problematic–the result of this radical, misogynist imbalance is what we see in sitcoms when slobby unappealing men are paired with pretty young things (and “things” is exactly what those female characters are–objects without subjecthood). So, for instance, because men need to gain a fuller understanding of themselves as sexual objects as part of accepting that women are sexual subjects (in my opinion), I don’t have any problem with men being sexually objectified.
    But my point, and I do have one, is that if we as women abjure objecthood altogether, what do we do with sexual attraction? The very nature of attraction is that one is aroused by the person one is seeing before one knows them, and I don’t think there’s anything particularly wrong with that. When we choose our clothing, style our hair, we’re conveying messages about ourselves, our identity, our preferences in the world, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with someone appreciating those choices and our looks.
    One of the many, many problems with our culture is that it claims that there is only one model of female beauty. Acknowledging the many forms that female beauty takes, and the sexual arousal that is a response to that beauty is not in itself bad.
    Women have been confined to objecthood. But I don’t think it’s possible or desirable to get rid of objecthood altogether.

  5. String_Bean_Jen
    Posted June 24, 2007 at 11:39 pm | Permalink

    Right when this thread first kicked off, I said I was going to ask my Brazilian friend what he thought. Here is his response. Apologies as it is a bit long (just another reason why I wish this lovely blog would convert to a forum!), but hopefully it will offer a bit of insight from a local.
    ***************************
    Hi, Jen! How are you?
    I never saw that ad. Do you know if they’re airing it on TV or is it a magazine
    ad? Either way I suppose they’re targeting the female market. That explains why
    I haven’t seen it.
    There’s absolutely zero buzz about it here. I did a good search on the local
    media blogs, Google… haven’t found a single line in Portuguese about it.
    I think there are two possible explanations for that lack of interest…
    One is that we’re used to bold advertisement, things that only the conservative
    minority might find over the top. Nudity and swearing on daytime TV are avoided
    but not really rare, for example. So when an ad like that, which is certainly full of prejudice but not necessarily controversial, is aired during non-prime time commercial breaks or, even worse, in women’s
    magazines, it is basically a non-issue.
    The other possibility is that the product company or even the ad agency might
    have realized how offensive this ad was and decided to remove it. This could
    explain why noone here paid attention to it. I’m just guessing here, anyway.
    As for your questions… No, this kind of ad, with such a bad taste, isn’t
    really prevalent here. Although the middle class in Brazil is very concerned
    about their body, there’s plenty of fitness and weight loss commercials here,
    making possible other ads like that.
    And I can’t really say who in Brazilian society likes these ads. As I said,
    given the fact that we’re used to a certain level of boldness in advertisements
    or even in the general media there might be a lot of people out there who have
    seen that ad and said “Ha! That’s funny!” and never thought about how offensive
    it was. It is possible that the huge non-educated portion of our population will never
    stop and think about the discriminatory elements in this ad. It’s just a guess,
    but it’s very likely.

  6. Itazura
    Posted June 25, 2007 at 12:36 am | Permalink

    This will be the last comment I will post on this string as it has gone on way too long.
    My mother always told me “that if you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all.”
    The Brazil yogurt ad definitely didn’t say anything nice to women, and neither did Derek, Scott, Entropy, or Blacksheep. You all (the aforementioned) should be ashamed of yourselves for speaking so harshly of women who have a little bit of body fat. But fortunately we will remember who you all are. Even if you guys didn’t find the woman in the yogurt ad attractive, then you should have kept it to yourselves. How would you all like it if we went to your house and pointed out your physical flaws to the whole world? You wouldn’t like that now, would you? Disgracing someone should never be a means to make profit.
    Enough said.

  7. Posted June 25, 2007 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    Even if you guys didn’t find the woman in the yogurt ad attractive, then you should have kept it to yourselves. How would you all like it if we went to your house and pointed out your physical flaws to the whole world?
    Dude, she’s appearing in a national ad campaign that basically invites comment on her body with the tagline. Basically the ad itself is calling her unattractive.
    And honestly: just because I find this woman not-sexy doesn’t mean that someone else won’t. I agree 100% with what EG wrote – “[My or anyone else's] subjective opinion doesn’t actually translate to any objective quality inherent in the woman herself.”

  8. Peepers
    Posted June 25, 2007 at 7:46 am | Permalink

    UCLAbodyimage, it might serve you to draw a distinction between expertise and authority. You are certainly an expert on the topic. However, claiming authority connotes an inherent right to acceptance of and respect for your word. That is unreasonable. It is perhaps this aspect of authority that is putting people off.
    One of the major deal-breakers in close relationships, after the “boing” time point in mating that you are studying, is humility. It is also a desirable quality in academics, even though it won’t help your vitae.

  9. Posted June 25, 2007 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    Very well, and gently, put, Peepers.

  10. Posted June 25, 2007 at 10:05 am | Permalink

    Because there are two issues in play. One, as many have said, is the issue that women should not be reduced to their body image and whether or not a given man wants to fuck them.
    Ehh… but the very title of this post was, “Sexy woman, yes?” It wasn’t: “don’t objectify this woman!”
    But another, just as important one, in my opinion, is that women who are heavier than, say, Winona Ryder are constantly bombarded by images and messages such as these, telling them that they’re not attractive and that they could never be attractive.
    But just because a few random guys on the Internet don’t find her attractive doesn’t mean that others won’t. I think there’s a lot of men who would find her attractive. There’s no reason why anyone should care about my opinion any more than that of the other people here. And honestly: if this was like, one of the authors of this blog posing, I wouldn’t have said anything negative. But this was a public figure.

  11. SarahMC
    Posted June 25, 2007 at 10:20 am | Permalink

    I’m confused that people who have said “I want to fuck that chick because I like bigger women” have been praised.

    I believe those comments were criticized, particularly Paul G. Brown’s comments (which were disgusting). Saying “She’s fucking HOTT” is STILL objectifying her!

  12. UCLAbodyimage
    Posted June 25, 2007 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    “UCLAbodyimage, it might serve you to draw a distinction between expertise and authority. ”
    Fair enough – I was conflating the two. I shared information I was aware that I thought would be of strong interest to bloggers here, based on my familiarity with the body image lit.
    “One of the major deal-breakers in close relationships, after the “boing” time point in mating that you are studying, is humility”
    Agreed! However, if research has come to a general consensus on a topic, I think the appropriate thing to do is to present that even if it doesn’t match people’s preheld beliefs. A number of people have made quite strong claims regarding sex differences in body dissatisfaction and attraction preferences that I believe are simply not true based on what we know from research on the topic. I don’t think it’s appropriate to let that slide, particularly when people use what I believe to be misinformation to bolster their political views. The extent to which I push that perspective is directly related to my believe in the quality of the evidence.
    I really don’t see that as an approach that should be labelled condescending. Many people on this board make quite strong claims, whether it is based on their personal experience, their training in feminist perspectives, or other sources. The one thing that I don’t do, as far as I can remember, is make any personal attacks on anyone – I’ve never questioned anyone’s character on this board, whether they appear strongly pro or anti-feminist.

  13. SarahMC
    Posted June 25, 2007 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    This thread has gotten wayyyy off-topic.
    Who disagrees with telling women that men are never going to like *women like them* so they should change in order to catch those oh-so-desirable guys?
    I do.

  14. Peepers
    Posted June 25, 2007 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    I do not think that all objectification is the same…we are all both sexual subjects and sexual objects…women’s sexual subjectivity has been denied…men tend to have little to no sense of themselves as sexual objects…But I don’t think it’s possible or desirable to get rid of objecthood altogether.
    Thanks for taking that on, EG. You called it out far more eloquently than I was prepared to.
    I believe it is central to this topic, especially to the questions of men’s vs. women’s body image and why some people are not responding negatively to objectification per se.

  15. SarahMC
    Posted June 25, 2007 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    …and THAT is what’s wrong with this add and the attitude behind it.

  16. Peepers
    Posted June 25, 2007 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    However, if research has come to a general consensus on a topic, I think the appropriate thing to do is to present that…I really don’t see that as an approach that should be labelled condescending.
    That is not condescending. Assuming a tone of inherent authority is.
    It is a common mistake people make here. This group conforms to women’s communication norms whereas, in most contexts, women adapt to male norms. I can see how one would be taken aback by the norms people hold each other to here. A strong communication norm for women is openness to mutual influence.
    I heart science, too. I heart sharing it with people. I heart my pet theories. However, if I indulged myself in pontification in this feminist space, I would duly anticipate an ass whooping.

  17. Ninapendamaishi
    Posted June 25, 2007 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    “Cues related to age, especially in women”
    Then how do you explain certain cultures having traditions of men marrying much older women?
    “C. Symmetry.”
    This study would disagree somewhat with that claim, b/c some of the faces rated most attractive in their study were not the most symmetrical:
    http://www.uni-regensburg.de/Fakultaeten/phil_Fak_II/Psychologie/Psy_II/beautycheck/english/symmetrie/symmetrie.htm
    (or rather, I guess what the study indicates is that symmetry may not be a highly influential factor in determining attractiveness)
    “F. Faces rated as attractive in culture tend to be rated attractive in disparate cultures (but hard to know if this is a product of more attractive faces generally being more symmetrical).”
    I want to see the studies on that one, as it goes way (like way) against my current understanding. (and I would say that studies on disparate cultures in the modern age that are all being influenced by the same media shouldn’t count)

  18. UCLAbodyimage
    Posted June 25, 2007 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    “It is a common mistake people make here. This group conforms to women’s communication norms whereas, in most contexts, women adapt to male norms. I can see how one would be taken aback by the norms people hold each other to here. A strong communication norm for women is openness to mutual influence. ”
    I don’t hold that opinion. I think people should use whatever conversation style they find useful so long as they aren’t derogatory toward others or use personal attacks. I’m also not a fan of snarkiness or personalizing debates. I think it’s a demeaning tactic and ultimately it just makes people dig into their positions more firmly because then the person’s identity gets wrapped up with their position.
    In person, I have a very relational (or as you put it, female-oriented) communication style – very “wow that’s really interesting” or “that’s an interesting way of framing it – here’s another way you could think of the issue.” In writing, however, I have a much more formal style, which is likely a product of 10 years of training in formal writing! I’m just not as comfortable with relational writing, etc. Your suggestion is to conform to a new set of norms. That’s not unreasonable, but it also goes against the other feministy issue which is respecting and tolerating different voices and styles rather than imposing conformist norms on others.

  19. UCLAbodyimage
    Posted June 25, 2007 at 3:01 pm | Permalink

    “It is a common mistake people make here. This group conforms to women’s communication norms whereas, in most contexts, women adapt to male norms. I can see how one would be taken aback by the norms people hold each other to here. A strong communication norm for women is openness to mutual influence. ”
    I don’t hold that opinion. I think people should use whatever conversation style they find useful so long as they aren’t derogatory toward others or use personal attacks. I’m also not a fan of snarkiness or personalizing debates. I think it’s a demeaning tactic and ultimately it just makes people dig into their positions more firmly because then the person’s identity gets wrapped up with their position.
    In person, I have a very relational (or as you put it, female-oriented) communication style – very “wow that’s really interesting” or “that’s an interesting way of framing it – here’s another way you could think of the issue.” In writing, however, I have a much more formal style, which is likely a product of 10 years of training in formal writing! I’m just not as comfortable with relational writing, etc. Your suggestion is to conform to a new set of norms. That’s not unreasonable, but it also goes against the other feministy issue which is respecting and tolerating different voices and styles rather than imposing conformist norms on others.

  20. UCLAbodyimage
    Posted June 25, 2007 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    “It is a common mistake people make here. This group conforms to women’s communication norms whereas, in most contexts, women adapt to male norms. I can see how one would be taken aback by the norms people hold each other to here. A strong communication norm for women is openness to mutual influence. ”
    I don’t hold that opinion. I think people should use whatever conversation style they find useful so long as they aren’t derogatory toward others or use personal attacks. I’m also not a fan of snarkiness or personalizing debates. I think it’s a demeaning tactic and ultimately it just makes people dig into their positions more firmly because then the person’s identity gets wrapped up with their position.
    In person, I have a very relational (or as you put it, female-oriented) communication style – very “wow that’s really interesting” or “that’s an interesting way of framing it – here’s another way you could think of the issue.” In writing, however, I have a much more formal style, which is likely a product of 10 years of training in formal writing! I’m just not as comfortable with relational writing, etc. Your suggestion is to conform to a new set of norms. That’s not unreasonable, but it also goes against the other feministy issue which is respecting and tolerating different voices and styles rather than imposing conformist norms on others.

  21. UCLAbodyimage
    Posted June 25, 2007 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    “It is a common mistake people make here. This group conforms to women’s communication norms whereas, in most contexts, women adapt to male norms. I can see how one would be taken aback by the norms people hold each other to here. A strong communication norm for women is openness to mutual influence. ”
    I don’t hold that opinion – I would actually suggest that is not a pro-feminist position.
    I think people should use whatever conversation style they find useful so long as they aren’t derogatory toward others or use personal attacks. My only rule is that I am also not a fan of snarkiness or personalizing debates. I think it’s a demeaning tactic and ultimately it just makes people dig into their positions more firmly because then the person’s identity gets wrapped up with their position.
    In person, I have a very relational (or as you put it, female-oriented) communication style – very “wow that’s really interesting” or “that’s an interesting way of framing it – here’s another way you could think of the issue.” In writing, however, I have a much more formal style, which is likely a product of 10 years of training in formal writing! I’m just not as comfortable with relational writing, etc. Your suggestion is to conform to a new set of norms. That’s not unreasonable, but it also goes against the other feministy issue which is respecting and tolerating different voices and styles rather than imposing conformist norms on others.

  22. Jen
    Posted June 25, 2007 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Whew, that got out of hand, didn’t it. Jessica asked me to close comments on this thread because she’s unavailable. 400+ comments is a lot. just so you know, we’re going to be updating and clarifying the comments policy soon. In the meantime, if you think someone is being abusive here, please send the one of us who wrote the post an email.

  23. UCLAbodyimage
    Posted June 25, 2007 at 3:29 pm | Permalink

    Eeeeek!! Sorry about the multiple postings – AOL went crazy! I’ll try internet explorer.
    “Cues related to age, especially in women”-”
    Then how do you explain certain cultures having traditions of men marrying much older women?”
    Adherence to a socially enforced marriage norm is not the same as attraction. For example, in many cultures it is a common norm for young girls to have pre-arranged marriages with older men as a way of cementing clan alliances. This doesn’t imply that the women are strongly attracted to the men, however.
    Similarly, we have no positive evidence that men in that society are not more attracted to women who display cues to fertility.
    The second possibility that comes to mind is that generations of strongly enforced socially transmitted norms and the linkage of age with greater prestige has rewired men’s actual perceptual systems, so that they depart from the typical pattern and perceive older women as more attractive (even independent of social status and prestige).
    “This study would disagree somewhat with that claim, b/c some of the faces rated most attractive in their study were not the most symmetrical:”
    It is an interesting study, but I don’t think it successfully challenges the dominant paradigm. I don’t think it is surprising that increased symmetry can lead to lower ratings of attractiveness when the increased symmetry comes at the expense of doubling the number of facial imperfections. That’s quite different from naturally occuring symmetry.
    On that note, you can unattractive faces that are symmetrical. It’s harder to create an asymmetrical face that is attractive. Symmettry is a necessary but not sufficient condition.
    The other point you allude to, the relative signal value of symmetry, is an interesting question- how much does it matter relative to other traits. Given the massive literature on symmetry, most researchers are now turning their attention to what factors tend to covary with symmetry and what percentage of variance in attractiveness it explains relative to other traits.
    “I want to see the studies on that one, as it goes way (like way) against my current understanding. ”
    No problem! I was a little surprised at the degree of concordance across cultures on that one too. This is the research I had in mind when making that claim:
    Langlois, J.H., Kalakanis, L., Rubenstein, A.J., Larson, A., Hallam, M., & Smoot, M. (2000). Maxims or myths of beauty? A meta-analytic and theoretical review. Psychological Bulletin, 126, 390-423.
    It can be downloaded here:
    http://homepage.psy.utexas.edu/homepage/group/langloislab/NewFormat/meta.PDF
    It’s a review by Judith Langlois. She is most famous for demonstrating that:
    A. Babies distinguish between attractive and unattractive faces, even at

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