There are too many to count. If I posted a picture of every Italian political campaign advertisement, for example, separating them into categories such as “the over-the-shoulder-slung-jacket” and the “chin-resting-on-the-index-finger” portraits, we’d be here all day. ┬áThen there are the overtly sexist advertisements for every product on the market. Then there are the commercials almost too ridiculous to describe, like my friend Jennifer’s and my favorite: feminine products with wings fly off into the sunset while grown women in the foreground ride a merry-go-round and grin.

But recently I snapped a picture of two advertisements around town and I’d love to know what y’all think:


Self Tanning Spray

Is this racist? Or in bad taste? Outside of a posh cosmetics store on Via Cola di Rienzo, I spotted this advertisement for self-tanning spray (presumably marketed towards white women), featuring an African (African-Italian?) model, naked, eating an apple. The ad suggests that I “Let myself be tempted” by this self-tanner. Is this some kind of post-modern blackface? It was just a few weeks ago that the French magazine Numero got in trouble for using a white model in dark make-up for an “African Queen” spread. And their explanation, that they were trying to celebrate dark beauty, kind of made it worse because then… why not use an actual black model? There are plenty of gorgeous ones. So is this store/advertising agency really suggesting that white women should look like… a different race to be beautiful? Or that it is even possible to get this dark with this tanning spray? I’m not sure it’s racist, but maybe a little insulting and definitely stupid.
Or am I just uptight? Italy doesn’t have the recent history (200 years is recent history) that the United States does, so maybe they just don’t have the same sensitivities that we do. This is, after all, the country whose president said that he liked Obama because he “had a nice tan.” Americans were offended, but Italians just kept voting for him. Maybe we can just write this one off as a cultural difference. But what do you all think of this ad?

Weight Loss Ad

Speaking of cultural differences, THIS is what is apparently considered to be “morbidly obese” in Italy. I don’t think this advertisement for obesity surgery is offensive, but just worth posting. I wish you could see it better, the jacket-slung-over-the-shoulder (see political advertisements, supra) makes her look even bigger. I came from Texas. This doesn’t look that big to me. And certainly not a model for “grave obesity.”

I guess it depends on where your eyes have spent most of their time!