By Alyssa Gagnon, Regular Contributor
Last weekend, Saturday Night Live ran a hilarious sketch that summed up how we’re all feeling about those Justin Bieber Calvin Klein ads. In the sketch, Kate McKinnon, who plays Bieber, expertly embodies the notoriously self-involved pop star, while also playing up Bieber's sense of desperation to be taken seriously as an artist and as an adult.
What’s so genius about this particular sketch is that as it pokes fun at the Biebs for his public persona, it also lampoons Calvin Klein’s treatment of Bieber as something wholly ridiculous. McKinnon wears a ludicrous genital cup, to which she points and states, “my pee-pee is in here." She turns to the camera to assure the audience that Justin is “a big boy now.”
Calvin Klein has been called out for the clear and extensive Photoshopping of the Biebs, from their sneaky addition of pubic hair to toning and enlarging his muscles, to making his, ahem, package, larger.
It’s rare that we get the chance to discuss photoshop and body image in terms of how men are treated, but it’s a conversation worth having. The alterations made to Justin’s ad shouldn’t be something to laugh at (a reaction I’ve seen too much of on the internet). Rather, this ad is another example to add to a mile-long resume of offenses carried out against the human form by mass media.
It begs the question that women are all too familiar with: who is considered good enough?
This is a perfect opportunity for us all to recognize that what we often look at as women’s issues and causes are actually not: unrealistic physical standards plague us all, men and women alike. When it’s deemed necessary by one of the world’s most iconic underwear brands to so drastically alter a man’s body (who, the way, is already generally a teen heartthrob), it’s clear that we are all in the same boat. Man, woman, and celebrity are all subject to the ever-scrutinizing eyes of mass media.
It seems clear that the Calvin Klein ad was a PR move for the company as much as it was for Bieber. Calvin Klein makes a bold statement choosing a model who is recently so prone to controversy, and Beiber makes a play at more mature and deliberately sexual public image. It’s just too bad that the “public image” is still so far from reality.
Let's Chat! Will photoshopping always be a "thing" plaguing men and woman? What needs to change? Share your thoughts here!
Alyssa grew up on a diet of grilled cheese, books, and ice cream with books predominating. She recently graduated with a Master’s degree in English and lives in her favorite place with her favorite husband (she only has one). Post-graduation, her plans are to start a new women’s magazine that leaves women feeling GREAT about who they are, and to open a publishing house for untapped talent.