Adidas, Baby...What Is You Doin?

Alexander F. Yuan

Adidas dropped an ad for bras this week, and very cleverly it included no bras…only boobs.

Boobs are great. I’ve had mine for many years now and while they do pose an inconvenience at times, I’ve loved having them. I hope to continue our relationship into old age. I appreciated that Adidas decided to appreciate all the shapes and sizes breasts come in. I was dismayed at the myriad of responses, mostly from conservatives, about how disgusting and unflattering the breasts shown were. People joked about losing sexual desire, getting nauseous, and being turned off by breasts altogether from here on out.

That felt kind of shitty, to be honest. The truth is, women’s boobs don’t look like Pamela Anderson’s manufactured knockers. Age, gravity, health, weight, pregnancy…there are ton of things that affect the way our breasts look and develop, and not a one of them makes them perkier or firmer. I understood the backlash to immodesty, but to insult the bodies of these women is to insult all women. Most women saw themselves somewhere on that image. Maybe think twice about what you’re communicating to your wife or daughter or mother when you ridicule the way those women looked.

That being said…Adidas, baby…what is you doin?

I’m all for normalizing normal womanhood. God knows we’ve been having a hell of a time defending it lately. I’m all for truth in advertising, and what they did was clever. Here we are, all talking about it. And as a female consumer, they definitely have me hoping that their bras are indeed made to serve the entire boob rainbow; but there are some things that are practical, and some that are intimate, and some that are both.

Breasts are both. They serve to feed, nurture and foster sexual attraction. Practical and intimate. The challenge in advertising practical solutions for intimate needs has always been how to represent the practical without exploiting – or grossing everyone out by – the intimate. How do you advertise for paper sheets that wipe the poop out of your behind? Animated bears. How do you advertise for erection pills? Show middle-aged couples having the time of their lives in side-by-side bathtubs outdoors, where animated flowers and tree bloom tall and erect all around them. You signify moisture and penile erections with symbols, not blatant sexual images.

Clearly the breasts of the Adidas ad were not meant to be sexual, but they’re still intimate. While I was certainly put off by the litany of insults coming from the peanut gallery, I understand the instinct. Too much intimacy is off-putting. We recognize breasts as something uniquely intimate to a woman, and thus to be shared only in intimate situations. Feeding your infant is an act between you and the child, not you and everyone else around who might want a sip. What the breast produces is for baby only. What breasts evoke sexually is for consenting adults in private situations.

Perhaps we do need a bit of help “normalizing” normal breasts in the minds of our fellow Americans. I don’t hate Adidas for this ad. As I said, it’s clever marketing. But it does make me wonder if we’re destroying a bit of intimate mystery by insisting that everyone gaze openly and continuously at the realities of a woman’s body.

What do you think? Drop a comment and let me know.


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