REMEMBER the days when gorgeous supermodels like Cindy Crawford sold you mascara or diet Pepsi? This commercial from 1992 is one of my all-time favourites. Now, instead of a pouting Kate Moss urging us to ‘Get the London Look’, we can expect a barrage of products to be promoted by the woke trans woman Dylan Mulvaney.
Mulvaney, who has achieved celebrity status by recording his journey (and yes, I am ‘dead-naming’ him) to becoming a woman on social media, has been touting tampons, telling us which sports bra to wear whilst jumping up and down like a psychotic jack-in-the-box and is now showing us how to apply makeup from the brand Maybelline.
It’s a new style of commercial, via social media feeds such as Instagram and TikTok. This article in Time magazine attempts to normalise the trend as just another string to the bow of diversity. What it actually constitutes is a well-funded bid influencing society to become even sicker.
A few years ago the word ‘sick’ replaced ‘awesome’ in teenage vocabularies, and it is no wonder since the trajectory of all the media we are throttled with continually (especially through the internet) has gone from aspirational to pathologically dysfunctional. The replacement of television adverts by social media and online data streams has sadly ushered in a new type of narcissistic personality disorder and normalised performative sex obsession. Acting out his fantasy of being a little girl, wearing pink dresses and simpering whilst professing to cry every day, Mulvaney presents a caricature and mockery of femininity. He certainly possesses influencer power, boasting 12million followers on Instagram and TikTok.
But whereas adverts used to show beautiful actresses or successful athletes, which could inspire ordinary people to dream big, like Michael Jordan in Nike Air, a shift has occurred with the Mulvaney videos that represents a fundamentally different approach.
I saw the movie ‘Air’ the other day and the central theme around using the hottest talent as a spokesperson was to leverage their greatness. With the Air Jordan brand this worked to produce record profits. How is it that Nike, a company which invented the iconic Jordan brand and the concept of a product designed around a specific celebrity, and which topped over $5billion in annual revenue from that single brand sales alone last year, has sunk to such a low place with its Mulvaney ad?
As lawyer in the fields of digital media and marketing, I often have to ask what the purpose of an advert is meant to be. The ASA (Advertising Standards Authority) which regulates UK marketing through the CAP (Committees of Advertising Practice) Code, has power to ban ads that are ‘misleading, harmful, offensive or irresponsible’. In my opinion the Mulvaney promotions for female products are all of those things.
It is offensive to women to parade around in a dress, false eyelashes and an affected manner, and irresponsible to normalise what should be characterised as a mental illness. In confusing sex and gender identity, these adverts are both misleading and harmful, particularly where they can be accessed by children.
In this insightful interview, Germaine Greer says that the false femininity of applying makeup, removing body hair and donning heels used by trans women to mimic females is disrespectful to our sex. She addresses the conditioning of women from an early age to become what society says they have to be. And now we are being told that man can be better at it, and teach us how to become more acceptable! Where the ‘masquerade’ of playing a woman is presented as the real thing, that is in my opinion misleading and potentially harmful.
I don’t have any issue with men promoting tampons or other products they wouldn’t actually use but might give to their sisters or girl friends. But putting on make-up and a bra in order to ape females is surely a level of debasement that ups the creep factor well beyond performative art or any entertainment value.
And if this is all meant to be comedic, why are women now the butt of the joke?
Remember the Maybelline strapline, ‘Maybe She’s Born with It’? Why don’t we replace that with #BoycottMaybelline?