“Lesbian” fashion advertisements have become so ubiquitous in recent years. Of course, 90 percent of the time, these ads are actually featuring straight female models (as far as we know, anyway).
A couple of notable campaigns include Versace’s Winter 2009 ads that portrayed supermodels Isabeli Fontana and Natalia Vodianova as seemingly Sapphic lovers.
And Kate Moss recently locked lips with transsexual model Lea T. for the cover of Love magazine.
On one hand, these can be exciting and signs of visibility. Typically, though, that excitement is quickly overshadowed by the quick realization that, no, those aren’t actual lesbians.
I don’t know why it bothers me sometimes; plenty of actresses go gay for pay. I guess the thing with models doing the same thing is, well, they’re not doing the same thing. They’re not playing a character with a personality that could ultimately help further the idea that lesbians aren’t so bad. They’re selling clothes or perfume or bras, but, ultimately, sex. They’re exploiting every dudes fantasy of two hot chicks getting it on. (Because that makes women want to buy designer clothes?)
When Jean Paul Gaultier’s new faux-lesbian ads started popping up all over the place last week, I had the same reaction I always do: excitement quickly turning to disappointment, then disgust and a tinge of resentment. The ads feature what seems like two wildly attract blondes sharing a passionate lesbian kiss. Only, one of the women is not actually a woman at all.
The ads feature Karolina Kurkova (of Victoria Secret notoriety, on the left), currently the highest-paid female model in the world (I will refrain from a rant about equal rights and equal pay, for now) and Andrej Pejic, the highest paid male model in the world (on the right). But we wouldn’t know that if it weren’t for the internet and magazines discussing how that new lesbian ad isn’t really a lesbian ad, so what’s the point? It’s not like Jean Paul Gaultier isn’t supportive of actual lesbians. In fact, Beth Ditto recently walked in his Paris fashion show, and she wasn’t frenching anyone down the runway.
Maybe JPG is attempting a lesson in perception. Maybe it doesn’t matter that one of these “lesbians” is a man (but not that like man lesbian on The L Word) because people will see whatever it is they want to see. And no matter what they say, the fact that they are saying anything means the ad has done its job.