For today’s installment of “what’s new in cultural (mis)appropriation” I’d like to point to Levi’s Jeans new “All Asses Are Not Created Equal” campaign for their new “Curve ID” line, purportedly geared towards women with “curves.” Whatever that means.
There are so many problems with this campaign but let’s start at the surface. The slogan is utterly ridiculous and ambiguous. However, it’s not so much about the language but the message it conveys. What makes said asses unequal? Does that mean some are better than others? Even if they are trying to somehow be accepting of different sized butts, it’s unclear. They need to hire some new copywriters and ad execs, perhaps a few with some cultural sensitivity and/or common sense.
Next, the models used are all very thin and fairly shapeless. The models in the photo would be laughed at if you tried to bring them into Black and Latina communities and say they were “curvy.” What does “curvy” even mean? It’s being used these days as a euphemism for women over a size 6-8 (I assume?) which is better than “fat.” But “curvy” is completely subjective. There are definite cultural differences in what’s curvy in one community versus another.
As a biracial black woman, I’m tired of seeing products that are trying to serve women with “curves” only to feature non-shapely white women. It’s the same with that pathetic booty shaper “EasyTone” sneaker commercial by Reebok. I laugh at it every time it comes on (or throw things). There is no one in that commercial that is over a size 6. It features very thin women with flat asses and claims that these shoes will shape your butt and legs. If the models shown are supposed to indicate the results from wearing those shoes, then I’ll stick to lunges, squats and rice and beans. Or just give me a Booty Pop. At least they aren’t taking themselves too seriously.
Many Black and Latina women have always struggled with the same issue in finding jeans to fit their waist and butt at the same time without having to spend more time and money on alterations. But these “Curve ID” jeans don’t seem to be the answer, at least from the pictures on their site. Many white women also do not fit the stereotype of beauty that these companies promote, and find this campaign just as offensive. See Shelby Knox’s post, “Levi’s New Ad Campaign Falls On Its Butt.” To me, this campaign is another example of cultural (mis)appropriation. Mainstream American culture (big up J.Lo) “loves” curvy booties which have always been en vogue in communities of color, but only really under a lens of white standards of beauty.
I have to say I’m with Sir Mix-A-Lot on this one…