I always enjoy getting the mail around this time of the year because of all the catalogues that arrive showcasing the pretty decorations, the glittery clothes designed for that oh-so-special holiday party, and the fabulous foodstuffs. It makes me want to buy one of everything. Usually.
This morning was a little different. I received the Semi-Annual Sale catalogue for a company called Boston Proper today. On the front cover is a model wearing a pretty red sweater with a snowflake embellishment. Killing time while I drank my coffee, I thumbed through it thinking I might buy myself a pretty sweater and skirt for my husband’s company holiday party, or perhaps a sparkly something to wear for the first New Year’s Eve my husband will spend alone in six years.
I was horrified, however, to see that nearly all of the pieces are marked as either “sensually shaped” or “fearlessly fitted.”
Here, we have a “sensually shaped” warm-up suit for those times when we need to look super hot running around town or chasing toddlers through Target:
Here, we have a “fearlessly fitted” scuba dress for … well, other than standing around with our arms posed just so, I can’t imagine for what. I certainly can’t imagine any woman I know, or any one I don’t know, wearing it to work.
Given the current concerns over models’ weight and health, as well as the issues regarding digital alterations of photos in advertising, and the negative implications this has for the self-esteem of young women, I was stupefied by the insensitivity of the copy writers and the inability to see how damaging this particular type of propagandist writing could be to young women.
I am disappointed that a company presenting itself as socially aware and pro-women (and one which is NOT Victoria’s Secret), would choose such blatantly sexual terms to describe its clothing. The idea that a woman’s form is only sensual when the clothing item cuts in at the waist and hugs her body in such a way to create what the media deems an ideal female shape is irresponsible and degrading to women.
I thought about all this for approximately thirty seconds and then dashed off a letter to the company via their Facebook page saying pretty much the same thing I just wrote. I also let them know that despite having shopped all of their brands previously, I would no longer be doing so, and I would be encouraging all my friends and family members to do the same. That might not seem like much of a threat, but my dad is one of 11 children, and my mother had 10 aunts and uncles, each one of which had children. My son attends an independent school in the suburbs; there are a lot of independent schools in the area, and the moms, most of whom are professional women or SAHMs who left their professional roles behind to raise their children.
There’s a lot of us out there, and I won’t hesitate to spread this around. Maybe nothing will come of it, but maybe by speaking up, someone might actually hear what I’m saying and start to change their message. If nothing else, I know I’m speaking up for what I believe in, for what’s right, for my step-daughters and my friends’ daughters.
Boston Proper’s Our Story page on their website reads as follows (the emphasis added is mine; the grammatical errors are theirs):
For over 25 years, Boston Proper has remained committed to and inspired by the women that we dress… women who are fearlessly feminine, enviably chic and who possess the poise and confidence to “wear it like no one else”.
Since day one, our products have remained as unique and provocative as the women who love us. Our catalog and website have long transcended the page with an aesthetic and feeling that is aspirational, exotic and uniquely personal. In 2013 the first Boston Proper boutiques open and our evolution continues. The Boston Proper Boutique will be an extension of our direct-to -consumer experience, your “private world, your fix, your closet…”
While times and technology have evolved the Brand over the years, our passion and dedication to incredible women everywhere remain unchanged. We are committed to surprising and delighting you with every interaction, delivering the most amazing personal service and building a lifetime relationship as well as a fabulous wardrobe with you! You are daring, sophisticated and sensuous. You are committed to being the best at whatever you do and living life with a charm and confidence that is second to none.
With that in mind, we will continue to design the most unique styles, curate looks and collections that inspire your independence & those that are as fearless and feminine as you are.
The result is a style, and a feeling that is enviable and chic while seemingly effortless.
A style that you wear like no one else…
I am disappointed that a company which presents itself as socially aware and pro-women, would choose such blatantly sexual and demeaning terms to describe its clothing. The idea that a woman’s form is only sensual when the clothing item cuts in at the waist and hugs her body in such a way to create what the media deems an ideal female shape is irresponsible and degrading to women.
Boston Proper is a subsidiary of Chico’s, which I have always sort of thought of as a female-focused company. At least, whenever I thought about it, which to be honest, wasn’t that often. Chico’s owns Boston Proper, White House/Black Market, and Soma Intimates.
If this bothers you as much as it does me, please express your displeasure with your dollars and shop elsewhere. I like their clothes, but I dislike their message more.