L.L. Bean, Land's End, dipping toes into pornification game

6 years ago

I’m not sure the trickle down theory works in economics, but it sure seems to be taking effect in sexualized marketing. It starts with a drip, drip, drip. While sexualization creep touches girls at younger and younger ages, it also starts moving into new green territory. Parents who don’t want to expose their girls to “I’m too pretty for homework” t-shirts, could always turn to Land's End. Until this:

Thank to The Momalog for calling out Land's End on this pornified advertising for children. "What bothered me most about the photo," she says:

• The 9-or-10-year-old girl in hiked-up shorts, in a somewhat suggestive, leggy and adult-like pose, mouth open, licking a lollipop (prompting one reader to comment, “Who are they targeting? Little girls? Or pedophiles?”)

• Two boys flanking either side exchanging knowing hubba-hubba glances.


And now, L.L. Bean too has bought into the notion that all women really just want to be sex kittens.

And here we thought L.L. Bean wanted to outfit strong, active, hiking, biking, rowing, hunting, sailing, skiing sportswomen. Seemed almost as if they respected women. How naive we were.

In this new catalog, “L.L.Bean Signature” almost all of the female models are posed with their mouths open. Where do you see women sitting around with their mouths open in real life? Um, nowhere? Although they do show up in porn. What does the pouty, slightly open mouth signify? Well, it signifies that these women are ready and available for sex.

Try it. Try posing during a typical day with your mouth open. Maybe while sitting at the next staff meeting, or while you wait with the other parents at school pick-up time. Feel absurd? At best, people will ask you to move farther away so they don't catch your cold. 

Gotta love this tagline: “Authentic and original, inspired by our heritage.” Our heritage of sexy babes on the frontier? I read Little House on the Prairie. It wasn't like that.

Right, I know, what's the big deal? It’s not as blatant as the covers of the magazines at the newsstand, like this one:

That’s why I’m calling it the “trickle down” effect. It starts out subtle. So subtle, you hardly notice. Drip, drip, drip. Rolling Stone wasn't always a purveyor of pornified culture, either. No, it used to be about music. University of Buffalo researchers studying Rolling Stone coversfound that  "the portrayal of women in the popular media over the last several decades has become increasingly sexualized, even “pornified.”

And the sexualization creeps steadily and stealthily from porn, to rock and roll, to those most prosaic of American companies, L.L. Bean and Land's End. 


Erin McNeill blogs about parenting in a media-saturated world at Marketing, Media and Childhood.

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