A Little Leg, A Lot Of Fun

This is an odd spot for Old Navy, although somewhat entertaining in a mindless I don’t have nearly enough sundresses kind of way. But, for some in the audience, it’s also loaded.

Nazneen Patel , writer and political provocateur, recognizes that “it’s obnoxious and counterproductive to cry ‘RACE’ every time something like this makes an appearance. Yet, she can’t help herself.

Among the many vitriolic stereotypes leveraged against the African-American community, one of the most incendiary has been the hypersexualization of Black men and women. Black men are always portrayed as the savage, sexually-superior antithesis to all things decent about white men. Black women are thought of as subhuman, irresponsible, and promiscuous.
When a Black woman sees a mannequin meant to resemble her, from the hairstyle to skin color, to the twangy regional dialect, it’s hard to separate the mannequin from what it represents. It becomes difficult to understand why she is stripped of her clothing and left standing there with her “plastic” unmentionables censored. It just seems a little unnecessary doesn’t it? Why even go there?

I don’t want to belittle this criticism any more than is necessary, but I can easily see the other side of this. That the black woman is the most comfortable in her skin. Rip the dress off any of those white ladies and they’d shrivel up and cry.
What I do want to know though is why the little girl rips the dress of the lady in the first place? Is she a shoplifter? Or just another out or control pre-teen on the loose in an American mall?



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.