By John Plue
Gillette has recently used a plus-size model for one of their ads and many people had something to say about it, some of them are positive and some of them are negative. I’m sure a lot of people don’t care about Gillette and the models that they choose. It is important, however, that people start caring about what models are used or who the spokesperson is of a certain company. Why? There are other people in the world besides white people, besides skinny people, besides able people, and besides any other type of person that is considered ‘normal’.
Not many people understand that representation matters, not just any representation but good representation. Stereotypes are fueled by what is seen on television. Continuing to use them, even as a joke, will not help put this problem to an end. There are many instances of this in the shows we watch today. The Simpsons have the character Apu, who is an Indian immigrant who runs a shop. I used to watch this show a lot as a child and when I would think of a shopkeeper, I would always think of someone like Apu. This is a stereotype that can be broken if more and more people had Indian characters doing other things, anything really, because they are not all one person that does one thing. It’s the same with characters who are gay. Gay characters have been often overplayed as hyper-feministic, sassy, and people who are always out for a lay. The problem with that though, is that isn’t what every gay person is like. They are just everyday people who just so happen to like the same gender.
People fight for representation too. Many are always up in arms about wanting to see gay couples in commercials or in shows. In addition, they want to see overweight underwear models and minorities for more than the stereotypes that people have forced them into. When this happens though, there are some who still have a problem with it.
One of the most recent occurrences of this is Gillette’s use of an overweight model. It’s great that they’re using her as their model. Everyone can shave, no matter the size of their bodies. Instead of praising Gillette, which honestly doesn’t need to happen because hiring different types of people should be a norm by now, they’re attacking them and the model they used.
All the negative reactions are related to the model’s weight or are attacking the company. One of the commentators said something along the lines that Gillette was supporting slow suicide. The problem with this is that even when companies try to support all different types of people, they get shamed for it. It could lead to them not bothering with using different people for their ads and in turn put us back to where we started.