by Maya Brown
Candies clothing and shoes is a repeat offender for degrading sexualized ads. While it’s not as well known a brand as, say, Levi’s or Diesel, it still attracts high profile celebrity spokespeople. The ads often show women in sexually charged positions, usually dominated by men in some way. This in itself would be aggravating, but when is it ever just one thing?
Candies launched its nonprofit Candies Foundation in 2001 to reduce teen pregnancy. While I’m all for an organization for the prevention of unwanted pregnancies, can anyone else see a weirder company to be involved with this? Candies’ whole shtick is scantily clad models just oozing with sex appeal. Having this company start a campaign to keep teenagers from having sex is downright bizarre. I mean how do the company’s ads at all suggest “Pause before you play,” or “Be sexy: it doesn’t mean you have to have sex,” which are the Foundation’s main slogans? Just the opposite.
The organization and the brand could not be more different. Bristol Palin (Sarah Palin’s daughter) was newly hired to represent the foundation, while Vanessa Hudgens just replaced Britney Spears as spokeswoman for the brand. Other faces have included Fergie, Ashlee Simpson, Hilary Duff, and Jenny McCarthy, because those are just the people we teenage girls look up to when it comes to sex and relationships, right?
The Candies Foundation also seems to suggest that sex and teen pregnancy is always the girls fault. Women are the center of about 90% of the ads and PSA’s, not to mention the obvious black and pink color scheme of the website. Does this mean that if a teen girl gets pregnant, it is completely her fault? Yes, as women we need to take charge of our own bodies, but it takes two to tango, two to forget a condom, and definitely two to decide to abstain.
The Candies company is also severely abstinence-sex based. Sure on their website they have links to information on safe sex and birth control methods, but their overall message is just don’t do it. “Pause before you play?” Come on, how often does pausing a movie keep the characters from acting differently? They even have a new App for the iPod and iPad that has audio of a baby crying in an endless loop without a way to stop it. Apparently this is the best way to keep teenagers from having sex, scare (or irritate?) them out of it. Another one of the taglines is “Be Smart: You Are Too Young to Start.” Candies is telling teens they aren’t ready on the one hand, and using sex to sell products on the other. Yeah right, because double standards always work.
Not everything about the foundation is negative. On the website they explain that pausing is geared to teenagers to “Pause to think about your future; Pause to think about consequences; Pause to evaluate your relationship; Pause to delay sex; Pause to get a condom; Pause to ask ‘Why now?’” This message does a good job of showing teens that it’s ok to have sex, but they need to think about it first. If the company could focus more on that message rather than undermining it with sexualized ads they might actually be more effective.