Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Responsible Drinking

Budweiser is one of the leading sellers of beer in the United States. Although most beer commercials feature the ideals of fun and status, which they claim alcohol can give you, Budweiser took a different approach with the following commercial:

This ad delivers a touching story of a dog waiting for his owner after he goes out drinking with friends. Just when you this the owner most likely was never coming back, he walks in the door saying he decided not to drive home that night drunk.

The theme of the commercial is not to buy Budweiser beer but instead to make responsible choices and not drive intoxicated. In this new trend of social media marketing, companies show they care about the well-being of their clients, not just the sales.

Budweiser is reminding consumers that although they are a beer company, they encourage drinking responsibly. Naturally this video has gone viral and has achieved what the company wanted, brand awareness and hype, all while teaching a very valuable lesson.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

#Like A Girl

Two months ago, Always launched the "Like a Girl" campaign. The video featured boys and girls of all ages realizing the negative effects of gender stereotypes over the years. Here is the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJQBjWYDTs

Whether or not this campaign has raised sales is questionable because there was not a significant increase. However, brand awareness for Always was definitely risen because the ad cleverly encourages viewers to visit the website to help the cause. Always is a popular brand for feminine hygiene products such a tampons and pads. Their campaign that girls should be proud to be girls and that the phrase "like a girl" should not be an insult is powerful and true. 

Always tackles the problem that girls lose self confidence during puberty, a critical stage in life. During this time they feel embarrassed of their body and their outer image. Gradually, "like a girl" becomes an insult during this stage. I applaud Always for such a moving campaign, even if it was obviously a marketing strategy. Regardless, it worked. Not only did the video go viral and brand awareness increase but it encouraged people to talk and debate about this topic, which is definitely something that needs to be done. 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Black Face

Numero Magazine created a beautiful fashion editorial with the title of "African Queen." Here are some of the pictures from the shoot:

Ondria Hardin poses as an African Queen

What a beautiful depiction of true African beauty right? Wrong. The model is actually Ondria Hardin, a Caucasian model. Her skin was darkened with paint and makeup for the shoot. The final editing even added effects to make her hair seem more textured. The transformation is jaw-dropping.

This magazine used a Caucasian model for another African American editorial in 2010 as well. They darkened her skin and gave her an Afro wig. There is not a shortage of black models. In fact, there are plenty looking for work; they just are not getting the job. According to reports, only 6% of models used during New York Fashion week were black while 82% were white.

While this is a very discouraging thing to hear and see for models who are not Caucasian attempting to enter the industry, some companies are doing the opposite of Numero. Miu Miu's spring campaign video actually featured an entirely black cast.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Favorite Disney Princess?

When I was younger, people would always ask, “Who’s your favorite Disney princess?” to which I would reply, “Mulan.” People would get really surprised and say they expected me to say Jasmine. Eventually, it got into my head that I SHOULD pick Jasmine. As if not picking her was an insult to my race or something. So for all of elementary school I would lie and say Jasmine was my favorite princess. Everyone would say I looked just like her and I can’t lie, I loved hearing it.

Towards the end of middle school, people would make comments like, “She’s only your favorite because she’s Indian.” or “Is that because you kind of look like her?” I started to get annoyed so I switched back to my real answer. And as a quick side note, Jasmine is Arabian from a fictional place somewhere in the Middle East not Indian. A lot of my friends from high school are Vietnamese and Chinese. For most of them, their favorite Disney Princess was Mulan and they would get very similar comments as me when I said Jasmine was my favorite.

In my senior year of high school, we saw a video about how most children subconsciously think that white people are more physically attractive. Which lead me to think, maybe when someone Asian says Mulan is their favorite and when someone South Asian says their favorite is Jasmine, it could be because they look like them. And what’s wrong with that? Honestly almost all the Disney princesses are white and are always considered beautiful. Fair skin, hair gold like the sun with lips red as the rose. Even in Disney’s newest hit Frozen, Anna says she was a “beautiful stranger, tall and fair.”

I realized this affected my mentality of beauty a lot when I was younger. I love Disney movies and still have Disney marathons from time to time. But when I was young and I wrote stories I would always name the main character after me but give her “creamy, peach skin” and “golden blond hair” with “cherry lips.” I swear. It was that same description every time. It only began to change when people would tell me I looked like Jasmine. For the first time I felt like I was pretty because I did look like a Disney princess. Jasmine was pretty, so I must be pretty too. It is nice to look up to someone that you actually look like. It makes you feel confident about your appearance and proud of the way you look.

Just food for thought. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

Pools and a Splash of Racism

First, let me start off by saying I am Bengali American. People usually assume I am Indian but my dad is from Bangladesh, my mom is from England, and I was born and raised in America. We are Muslim although my father is the only religious one in my family. Today we took what we thought would be a nice trip to Bogan Park Aquatic Center in Buford, GA. My aunt and her two children are visiting us from England where the weather sucks pretty much year-round. Needless to say, they don't do much swimming normally. When I told my cousins we were going to a water park they were practically jumping for joy.

We get to the facility and were greeted—or rather interrogated—by the lady at the front desk. She asked us if we were wearing swimming costumes so naturally, we looked at each other confused and said yes. I mean who asks if people are wearing swim suits when they clearly are going to an aquatic center and are carrying bags overflowing with towels? Now keep in mind that right before us, a family of six Caucasians paid for entry and were not asked any questions although they were wearing dresses and shirts just like us. Now you may ask what does being Caucasian have to do with any of this? Well, that becomes clear in the next question she asks which was, “Do you understand? Do you know what a swim suit is?” I wish I could have recorded this because the way that she said this was incredibly rude, as though she thought she was talking to the stupidest people on the planet. Anyways, I immediately answered slightly annoyed, “Yes we know what swimsuits are and we said we are wearing them.” The lady looked at me and then said, “Well we need to make sure so can you please show us what you are wearing underneath?” I had no problem removing my dress and showing that I was indeed wearing a swimsuit and not hiding bombs or something under my dress. My aunt, however, is very conservative and looked appalled. She was wearing a waterproof tank top, swim shirt, and swim pants. So first, I showed the lady that my cousins were wearing swimsuits as well. She made them take everything off too. Remember this is in waiting area where other families were watching us because they had nothing else to do but wait. Then I said, “My aunt is wearing swim pants and a swim shirt.” The lady replied, “That does not look like a swimming costume.” “Well, she got it from the SWIM section of Target. All the clothes she’s wearing are waterproof and made for swimming.” I replied back. The lady called a man over, who made my aunt even more uncomfortable, who said, “Sorry that is not appropriate attire so she can’t go into the pool.” Just because it isn’t a standard American swimsuit doesn’t mean it’s not swimwear. Do you not know what swimwear is? As annoying and embarrassing as this situation was we went to the pool and my aunt just sat on the side and watched.

An hour in, a pool attendant walked up to my aunt with a South-Asian child who was lost. The attendant asked my aunt if the child was hers which I think was inappropriate to begin with. I mean if a white child was lost would you walk up to every white looking family and ask if they were their child? Not to mention the child could be adopted or mixed. Anyways my aunt replied, “No sorry.” Then the attendant asked my aunt, “Well could you take him and help him find his family?” My aunt didn’t even know what to say. “But he’s not with me…” she said. Then the attendant asked, “Well that family over there doesn’t seem to speak English well, could you at least take him over to them and see if he is theirs?” At least? The family she was referring to was speaking in Hindi, which doesn’t mean they can’t speak English, maybe they just preferred to speak in their native tongue. My family speaks Bengali; we aren’t even from the same country. Suddenly all brown people speak the same language and are responsible for each other’s children? It’s like asking an American if they can help translate for an Italian family. I was in shook that this even happened but I pointedly interjected saying, “They speak a different language from us and it is your job to find this child’s parents not ours.” The attendant looked annoyed and shook her head at me and then went to do the job that was hers to do in the first place.

Every hour, this aquatic center had a ridiculous 15 minute drill where everyone had to get out of the water. All the kids get restless in this time and aren’t even allowed to dip their feet in the water. So, I took my cousins and my sister over to the pool on the other side which was deeper. I just let them dip their feet into the pool on the stairs. I was the only one completely in the pool. We were in there for maybe two minutes before a lady (who did NOT work there and was NOT swimming) said, “You have to be over 18 to swim in this pool.” A pool attendant came over and said the same thing. I said okay and told my cousins they needed to get out. Then I told my sister, who is hard of hearing and didn’t understand what was going on. I had to lean into her ear and shout for her to hear me. Obviously I did this in the water and was going to head out right after. The attendant walked away but the woman said very rudely, “Do you not understand English? You have to be 18 to swim in this pool. If my kids can’t swim here, then you can’t either.” I have never had anyone so ignorant talk to me in this way. I turned around and said, “Listen lady, I have been born and raised in the U.S. and I understand. We are getting out. Mind your own damn business!” The woman was shocked into silence momentarily at my amazing ability to “speak English” and that was just enough time for me to herd my cousins and sister back to the main pool.

I don’t think I have ever dealt with racism so directly and first-hand before. I know it exists everywhere but sometimes I am optimistic enough to forget. But racism is STILL A PROBLEM, even in America. What should have been a nice day at the pool turned into a nightmare that still makes me mad thinking about. But I know being mad won't get me anywhere. I honestly feel sorry for some of these ignorant people. Stereotyping and race profiling limits you from really seeing the beauty of culture. I just hope one day they will wake up and educate themselves. I will not be going back to this aquatic center EVER.