I’ve never considered Sears to be a particularly fashionable store, an opinion I thought was vindicated recently when the chain introduced its Kardashian Kollection—a flop that opened with slashed prices across the Sears chain here in Canada. Instead I’ve always considered Sears to be a source for appliances and house wares, not clothes. Granted Sears does carry a full range of garments for women, men, and children in a range of sizes that should put the more respected fashion retailers in Canada to shame but their offerings are hardly fashion forward or risqué.
Bearing all this in mind I was surprised to learn that Sears had come under fire from the puritanical guardians of good taste south of the border, groups such as the American Family Association (AFA), who have accused the department store chain of peddling smut.
The pearl-clutching fuss was made over an image on the Sears website’s Exotic Apparel section that featured a model’s nipple clearly visible through the purple mesh “baby doll” slip she’s wearing. The offending slip is not even a Sears product, it came from the reseller Fright Depot.
AdRants’ Steve Hall responded by saying “We’re not sure when the natural beauty of a woman’s nipple became smut but, hey, there will always be a collection of people out there that refuse to believe females have nipples…that actually serve a function in the perpetuation of the human race!” Hall is obviously a decadent who is not aware of how the sight of a woman’s nipple or two can cause bleeding from the eyes and evoke impure thoughts.
Sears initially responded to the criticism by whistling up a spin doctor. “We perform ad-hoc content audits to remove inappropriate items,” said spokesperson Tom Aiello, “And also take customer feedback and react very quickly.” Sears did indeed act quickly; first the baby doll ad was taken down, then the Exotic Apparel section of Sears online Marketplace disappeared.
These days, unfortunately, there is no shortage of self-appointed, self-righteous people who feel they know best as to what constitutes good taste, and they’re eager to force their views upon retailers such as Sears, and on individuals such as you and I. While we can, and do, ignore these busybodies tis not always so easy for a business such as Sears to do likewise so they dump the offending products, forcing some customers to shop elsewhere. I’m not talking about defective or dangerous products here, I’m talking about clothing and the associated advertising deemed too sexy—so much for free expression and the free market.
Perhaps groups such as the AFA would feel more comfortable if women were removed from advertising all together, after all, no women no nipples, plunging cleavage, risqué bums or anything else scandalous. Tis an idea that is de rigueur in socially enlightened countries such as Saudi Arabia.
Recently the Swedish furniture giant Ikea came under fire for photoshopping women out of the Saudi version of its magazine, which was previously identical across the world. Ikea has apologized, and said it regrets the decision to delete all women and most girls from the Saudi printed edition and website, after questions were raised over the company’s commitments to gender equality. Safe to say no notable from Saudi Arabia complained about the lack of women in their edition of the Ikea magazine, nor did anyone from the AFA.
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Research: Angelina Pieros
Sources: AdRants, The Daily Mail, Huffington Post Canada, Ikea, Jezebel, Sears