Ever since Britney Spears shaved her head in 2007, it seems that a famous woman can't cut her hair without causing an outcry. Karlie Kloss, Victoria's Secret's newest Angel (I wonder if it says that on their W-2s?), is just the latest victim of this bashing trend. Kloss had the audacity to appear in a lingerie ad with a haircut that is—WAIT FOR IT—slightly longer than a bob! Apparently there is only one definition of sexy and it is long, flowing, Disney-princess hair.
Baltimore feminist group FORCE took the world by surprise last December when they launched a line of fake Victoria's Secret, dropping underwear emblazoned with phrases like "Consent is Sexy" and "Ask First" at Victoria's Secrets around the US and promoting the fake Pink Loves Consent line on the internet. The spoof came off brilliantly, using a well-coordinated "feminist Facebook army" to hijack Victoria Secret's social media and broadcast the a discussion of consent to millions of mainstream shoppers. Last week, I talked with FORCE organizers Rebecca Nagle and Hannah Brancato about what they learned from the Pink Loves Consent campaign, how Facebook and Twitter have censored their spoof, and the details on their next action, a Valentine's Day protest that will install a temporary monument to rape survivors in Washington DC.
BITCH: What choices did you make while planning Pink Loves Consent that made it so wildly successful?
HANNAH BRANCATO: The big decision was that we couldn't sell the underwear. This is a spoof, we're using Victoria's Secret's trademark, so we couldn't legally sell anything. There was all of this intense energy around the project when it first launched but the only thing people could think of doing was buying the underwear.
REBECCA NAGLE: The first thing they asked was, 'Where can I buy this?" And I think it was powerful to come back and say, "You can't buy it, it's an idea." Instead of sending people to a checkout cart, we're sending people to resources, to saying, "Here's a zine you can make."
Hardly known for being tasteful, Victoria's Secret hit a new low earlier this month with its "Sexy Little Geisha" lingerie. As Nina Jacinto put it on Racialicious, "It's the kind of overt racism masked behind claims of inspired fashion and exploring sexual fantasy that makes my skin crawl." This offensive cloud has a silver lining, however: Thanks to the power of the Internet and righteously pissed off consumers, the godawful bra, underwear, obi, and chopsticks(!?) set is no longer for sale.
When it comes to diet articles—specifically articles about what women eat—I think it's only natural (if depressing) that we're interested. And we must be, because stories like this one grace the front pages of tabloids, women's magazines, and blogs almost daily. We live in a culture that commodifies women's bodies and promotes near-impossible beauty ideals, so why wouldn't we be curious as to how some of our most popular products get made? When we're constantly told that there's only one way that women should look (tall, young, thin, white, able-bodied, conventionally pretty, etc.), we're bound to be curious when someone tells us how we too can look that way. A "You're not gonna believe this diet!" headline is a lazy but surefire way to get readers, especially female readers, to pay attention.