Why are guys on Downtown billboards allowed 3-D imperfections while women have to be two-dimensionally gorgeous?
I was driving down 2nd Avenue the other day when a leggy woman in a mini-dress offered me a Modelo beer. A beer! Before noon! And she in a mini-dress - it was 50 degrees! She\'s still there, if you want to go meet her. Of course, being part of a bus-shelter ad, she\'s not very talkative, but she\'ll sure give you an eyeful.
I drive past Ms. Modelo daily, and a handful of other skimpily dressed women pouting and sighing from Downtown billboards and bus shelter signs. The women are pushing a variety of labels - Captain Morgan, bebe and Skyy vodka, to name a few. But that\'s where the variety ends, because the women are all the same brand of beautiful.
Check out the Skyy Blue ad on Hennepin. The three girls all have the same long-limbed body, but with different heads, seemingly to add some racial diversity. While you\'re cruising down Hennepin, take in the bebe ad near the old library: The tall model with bedroom eyes is selling her peeking breast more than her thousand-dollar pantsuit.
To be in the Female Billboard Model club, you must have the legs of a gazelle, the facial bones of a WASP, and the boobies of a Barbie doll. You must not have any odd bulges on your body, and you must be able to make modelish facial expressions ranging from pre-orgasm to mid-orgasm. You must be able to portray yourself as a two-dimensional beauty queen: both figuratively and literally (billboards are flat, after all).
Interestingly enough, the Male Billboard Model club is more lax about who they admit. Sure, there are the bare-chested, buff guys keeping the gals company on the Skyy sign, but their type is outnumbered by fully clothed, average-looking men.
There\'s Dave Ryan of KDWB, sending an enormous goofy grin down Washington Avenue and practically every other street in Downtown. He\'s not GQ material by any means, and by gum, his head is huge! Then there\'s AM 1500 D.J. Joe Soucheray\'s scowling face looming on a billboard near I-94, his vast balding pate reflecting enough sun for all the scantily clad ad girls to get a nice tan. On 7th and Park, USBank has sponsored a Vikings billboard featuring a whole mess of grunting, grimacing and sweaty football players. And I can\'t forget to mention the cartoony spokesmodel for Sam Adams Light in the Warehouse District, making that comical \"wooooo\" face at the beer he\'s hawking.
So the guys, while still living within the confines of a two-dimensional sign, get to approach the third dimension by letting their individuality and imperfections pop out. The girls aren\'t given this freedom; they always have to be sexy, gorgeous and perfect. In fact, I believe the girl billboard models are made to sign a contract saying that they will never, but NEVER make a goofy \"wooooo\" face during photo sessions.
Now don\'t misunderstand: I\'m not slamming the pretty ladies on the billboards, I\'m just wondering why we can\'t get some variety, like the guys have. Show the many facets of women, from the sexy to the silly. Maybe it\'s too much to ask at first to get different types of models, so we could start with some goofy facial expressions, some different outfits.
How\'s this for a billboard: The bikini-topped girl in the Skyy Blue ad after she\'s slugged down a bottle of her product. You know, googled eyes, mouth open in a wild laugh, dry grass sticking out of her hair. And instead of the mini-dress, let the Modelo lady pose in what she wore to the photo studio - probably jeans and a T-shirt. The pantsuited bebe girl can be reading the book she brought with her to the shoot, and when she gets to a part that makes her cringe or laugh, the photographer will point and click.
Who\'s with me?
Stephanie Watson is a freelance writer and Downtown renter. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.