We could all use a little friendly advice when it comes to dressing to impress your significant other’s family during the holidays. But people are saying one retailer has taken it too far in its advertising, labeling a recent campaign as sexist.
According to Indy100, British fashion and lifestyle brand Joy is facing criticism over an email holiday campaign that tells women how to dress in order to get your boyfriend’s parents to like you. Underneath a picture of a woman in a black printed dress, the caption reads, “Show your boyfriend’s mum you’re the girl to take care of her little prince in beautiful dresses that scream marriage material. Knee length skirts exude class while respectable necklines mean father-in-law won’t have a heart attack when you lean across the table for a second helping of roast potatoes.”
Of course, people took to social media to express their disdain for the campaign, flooding the brand’s Facebook page with complaints. “Your ‘Meet the Parents’ marketing email is incredibly offensive, outdated and ill-conceived. What were you thinking?” one person wrote.
“If I’d wanted something to look after I would have bought a puppy. As it stands my girlfriend looks after herself pretty well, because she’s a grown woman who is in a relationship for a partnership,” another person said. “Try to refrain from blasting out your 1950s heteronormative advertising for 2017. You might win a few more customers. Also, if anyone’s partners dad is oggling [sic] their boobs over dinner, punch him square in the nose and take that meal to go.”
Another user attempted to inform the retailer that the values it is peddling for women have long since changed: “Women wear your clothing to look smart at work, not bag a man and get married. Grow up.” Other customers thought that the campaign was meant to be satirical, but if the satire falls flat, then what is even the point?
It appears that Joy has yet to respond to the shoppers’ complaints on social media.
Vera Bradley is another retailer that has caught flak for what some customers have viewed as sexist advertising. The handbag and luggage brand’s user-driven #itsgoodtobeagirl campaign left a bad taste in a few mouths. Vera Bradley asked its customers to submit reasons why being a girl is so great, but once the campaign rolled out, people felt as if the brand had chosen ones that fed into stereotypes about women. As Yahoo Style reported back in September, “Women weighed in to point out that the brand’s demographic is women, that women have to carry bags because their clothing often doesn’t have pockets, and pointing out that the wage gap is a priority over being ‘a girl.'”
Australian label Réalisation Par also found itself in a bit of a pickle this summer over a description on its “Diane – Red Star” dress. It says that “men love sundresses,” and the piece would be perfect to wear when you’re looking to get out of a sticky situation because “this is the dress that makes them forget why they were even mad at you in the first place and the only thing that really matters is: If you’re bad at being good, you better be damn good at getting out of it.” Some people thought that framing a dress as a piece to have in order to manipulate men was problematic, though it’s important to note that the description also says, “We women dress for ourselves and ourselves only.”
Debacles like these can be avoided when marketers decide to consider why women shop, instead of falling back on outdated stereotypes.