Strong is the new beautiful, and advertisers should pay attention

  • Opinion
  • March 11, 2016
  • Angela Barnett
Strong is the new beautiful, and advertisers should pay attention

I get it. Showing a hint of breast gets attention. You certainly got my attention because I love breasts, I have a couple myself. And you probably didn’t want to show a full breast as you knew you’d get slammed so you went for the underdeveloped one. That breast and girl are so young, so not quite there I felt like a pervert taking a photo of your poster.

But that’s not why I’m writing to you Zoe & Morgan. If I’m just another woman rolling her eyes over the blatant sexuality of females in advertising then everyone will carry on ignoring me.

I’m writing to ask you one question. Do you know what beauty is?

You see, I get the game. I’ve worked in marketing for years and I’ve seen a lot of beautiful ads. I know you want to show glamour, desirability, and that while your model’s unattainable your jewellery isn’t, right? You can buy it right here at

We all know beauty sells aspirational products because we think beauty is powerful. It’s not just a thought, it’s a universal truth. Beauty is powerful.

But I’m wondering if you thought of beauty as power, as if it has a source, how different your ad might be.

When I look at your poster I don’t see beauty. I feel sad for your model. She doesn’t look like she’s having a great time and she looks vulnerable. It looks like some photographer kept saying, “drape the fabric a bit to the left, no more to the left, just cover the nipple OK?” It makes me want to grab her and say “where‘s your attitude girlfriend? These photographers and advertisers are going to fuck you up unless you get some serious attitude. I know they told you to do this but imagine if we could inject you and your attitude into this ad instead of your shell. Your outer shell. Because you are powerful, girl. I can see it in your eyes.”

Zoe & Morgan, you are two females who make jewellery, good jewellery (I like your All Seeing ring), but are you All Seeing with what females like to see in ads? Nymphs are out because we’re not telling girls to be pretty and vulnerable and stick thin and have somebody buy jewellery for them. We’re telling them to stick up for themselves. To be strong. To respect their bodies and demand respect of their bodies from others. To be pretty smart about the beauty and advertising industry.

Good ads should have a strong idea, something that expands minds, and ultimately ourselves. If ads only give us thin, glamorous models then that’s all there is to focus on. And all that achieves is making girls feel inadequate. Oh dear, my legs are not the width of my arms. 

Ads that show beauty as something that only exists on the outside screws up girls who don’t feel beautiful on the inside. Beauty is the whole package, it’s not the shell. It’s who we are, it’s what we project from our core. That’s where the power is.

I’m sure you’ve seen monster high dolls? Young girls don’t want Barbie, or perfection. In Meaghan Trainor’s clip that 1,297,106,486 people have watched so she’s reasonably influential, she says “I won’t be some stick figure barbie doll”.  Girls want fangs and super powers and shit-kicking high boots. Dripping blood’s not creepy; it’s baddass.

My seven-year-old daughter likes Bad Blood and I let her watch it because Taylor Swift and Jessica Alba are not being vulnerable sex kittens, they are full of attitude and don’t mess with me sister-ness.

You must have noticed what Lorde did last year in Chile when she took her purple lipstick and smeared it across her face? A universal, rebellious up yours to the beauty industry. She messed with her beauty on stage while we all wet our pants.

Imagine, if instead of feeling bad for your model, I felt her power. Imagine how show-stopping your ad could be. Instead of ‘steal me’ she would reek of ‘see me’. Just see what I can do. Imagine if you embraced her feminine and her masculine because she’s got it all there. It’s why you chose her. Now unleash that. Show us, the females you desperately want to attract, some respect. Don’t show us fragile thin bodies. Show us strong ones. Don’t show us naked. Show us naked ambition and high self esteem.

Then you’ve got our attention and our respect.

Smart brands create loyalty and respect and awe. Others create shock and envy and feelings of inadequacy. Your striking jewellery could be part of something that changes the status quo. Your crocodile ring could be full of don’t mess with me sister-ness. You’re all very talented, you could be great.

Women feel beautiful when we’re strong. That’s what real beauty is. In honour of International Women’s Day this week I felt I had to write.

All the best with your business.

This story originally appeared on StopPress.

​ ​

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