Brobdingnagian

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050802_dovegirlslede_wide_3Did I get your attention with that word? If you’re like I was a few minutes ago, you have no idea what that word means. Apparently if I had paid more attention to Gulliver’s Travels, I would know this work, as Brobdingnagian is from Brobdingnag, a country of giants in Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.  Allow me add to your vocabulary…

 

  Brobdingnagian brob-ding-NAG-ee-uhn, adjective:
    Of extraordinary size; gigantic; enormous.   
     Synonyms:
humongous, immense, mammoth, colossal.

And here it is used in context in a few sentences -

"The venture capital business has a size problem. A monstrous, staggering, stupefying one. Brobdingnagian even."
     –Russ Mitchell, "Too Much Ventured Nothing Gained," Fortune, November 11, 2002

"Any savvy dealer . . . will try to talk you up to one of the latest behemoths, which have bloated to such Brobdingnagian dimensions as to have entered the realm of the absurd."
     –Jack Hitt, "The Hidden Life of SUVs," Mother Jones, July/August 1999

"This campaign for Dove’s new line of firming products (lotions and creams and such) is everywhere you look. The ads made their debut in last month’s fashion magazines and they now grace every outdoor surface in sight. Buses, bus stops, billboards, buildings-I can’t walk three blocks in my D.C. neighborhood without encountering another of these Brobdingnagian babes." 
     –Seth Stevenson, When Tush Comes to Dove. Real women. Real curves. Really smart ad campaign.  Posted Monday, Aug. 1, 2005, at 7:15 AM PT Slate.

WHAT???!!!
I wish I could make you hear the sound in my head, the sound of a record needle being ripped across a record. Since when did women size 6 to 12 become "humongous, immense, mammoth, and colossal"? Has everyone become so used to viewing 97 pound Nicole Richie that she’s become the norm? Something is really out of whack in our culture. The average American woman is somewhere between a 12 and 14 according to a 2004 survey by SizeUSA (a project sponsored by Target and JCPenney stores among others). The writer that used the term "brobdingnagian" later gushes that he’s attracted to one of the girls, then goes on to say, "Eventually (though perhaps only subconsciously), they’ll come to think of Dove as the brand for fat girls. Talk about "real beauty" all you want-once you’re the brand for fat girls, you’re toast."

Meanwhile, over at Newsweek, it’s the "Summer of Dove" by Susanna Schrobsdorff  Newsweek Updated: 8:17 p.m. ET Aug. 5, 2005, who asks the question in my brain in her subtitle (albeit in a more polite way than I would have), "Are the women in the company’s new ad campaign too big to sell beauty products, or have our minds gotten too small?" (I would have said, "have our minds gotten too warped").

I think the answer to that question is provided by Lucio Guerrero, a staff reporter for the Chicago Sun-Times who was apparently offended by the sight of the ads on his commute, wrote on July 19:  "Really, the only time I want to see a thigh that big is in a bucket with bread crumbs on it." Apparently Mr Guerrero is less offended by the typical model, an emaciated 14-year-old dressed up in lingerie like a hooker showing her wares in Amsterdam.

Yup, "warped" is the only word for it.

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8 Responses (Add Yours)

  • A says:

    This blog article speaks VOLUMES! Can I just tell you I cancelled my cable account because I’m so sick of warped ad campaigns! You made my DAY!!!!!

  • Cindy says:

    I think Lucio Guerrero may need his mouth washed out with a big giant bar of DOVE soap! :-) I think the funny thing is, most American men would be only too happy to come home every night to find their wives looking that confident in their underwear. I think most men just wish their wives/girlfriends would let them SEE them in their underwear, instead of turning off all the lights or backing out of the room with a large pillow in front of them, b/c they are led to believe this kind of tripe. My only wish – that beside the author’s articles we could see a head to toe shot of them in their skivies. Something tells me maybe not so Brad Pitt-like sitting smuggly behind their computers. Good one, Gina. We LOVE what Dove is doing!

  • Gina V says:

    Cindy – I had the same thought – all these men judging the “humungous” women in the Dove ad campaign are probably sitting behind their computers with their bellies hanging over their belts. This issue really brings out the disparity in how men and women view themselves and each other.
    Gina

  • Dove has Legs

    It is sad that we are shocked when we see regular people in an ad campaign. I’m not sure if more people are buying soap, shampoo and anti-wrinkle cream as a result of Dove’s ad campaign featuring real women but

  • Vanessa says:

    Cindy and Gina, you have it exactly right. I’d like to see these men displayed in a bikini or underwear in a fashion magazine. We’ll see who is making snide comments then. Dove’s campaign for real beauty is exactly what this country needs. Women should no longer be afraid to be seen in a swimsuit.

  • Megan says:

    One of the worst parts about shopping for a swimsuit is looking at your body in the dressing room mirror and realizing how far away it is from model perfect. As you constantly berate yourself for eating that jelly donut at midnight the night before, the bikini you are attempting to slide onto your body seems to grow smaller and smaller as your stomach and hips grow larger. This Dove campaign is a definite step in the right direction. No woman should need to feel self-conscious about her body in a swimsuit. If more and more “normal” sized women are shown in ad campaigns, maybe shopping for bikinis will become a fun experience, and displaying your chosen swimsuit on the beach will become more of an action of pride than of shame and regret.

  • Kira says:

    As women begin to see their bodies more realistically through such ad campaigns, I hope eating disorders and chronic dieting will diminish. There certainly exists a double standard in this world where men can freely display a beer belly in swimsuit trunks and women have to cower at a public beach in a bikini. Cheers to Dove for attempting to change this double standard!

  • Cindy says:

    Amen!!

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