Media Monday: Fruit of the Loom’s “Date Night” Commercial

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Media Monday this week focuses on a commercial for Fruit of the Loom products. View it embedded below, or click this link to see it on YouTube.

And now, transcript time!

Fruit of the Loom made my life a little easier this week by posting the lyrics to the song in this commercial, “Date Night,” on the website that highlights their current ad series, http://www.fruitguyfans.com/. But, since the site is in Flash and I can’t link to a specific subpage (boo!), I am excerpting the lyrics here:

There’s a smile that you show me, pulls me closer to you
As the moonlight reflects in your eyes
And the touch of your hand, dear, enchants me, romances me
Let’s leave the rest of the world far behind

As the ad begins, the opening lines of this song, set to a soft piano melody, are sung by a male singer. A (pale, reading as white) woman’s legs are visible. She appears to be relaxing in a bubble bath. Lit candles are placed around the edges of the bathtub. The image fades into a close-up of a cellphone screen with the words “Be ready by 7 pm. XO” displayed, next to a black bra with pink straps and edging, resting on a towel. The woman’s left hand, with a diamond ring on the ring finger, reaches for the telephone.

The image fades into another scene. Another woman (also appearing white; it is possible that this is the same woman from the previous scene) sits at a vanity, wearing an open-fronted white peignoir over a pale bra. She reaches for a hand mirror and pats her dark hair, which is pinned up for curling. The view changes to her face in the mirror as she smiles and adjusts a curl. She has a slightly rounded face and plump arms.

The scene shifts to another mirror. A hand holds a cloth, wiping steam from the surface and revealing the reflection of pink patterned wallpaper. The camera pans to the side and shows the reflection of a slightly-smiling Black woman. The camera changes to a side-view of the same woman as she fastens a gold necklace around her neck. She is wearing a black bra. The camera moves back, and it is revealed that she is also wearing black boyshort-style underpants. She has a rounded belly and thighs. She smiles as she checks her reflection again and walks off-screen.

The camera now shows a side view of a woman in a bright blue and yellow bra and patterned underpants. She holds a black dress in front of herself and sways, looking sidelong at herself in a mirror. She has medium-brown skin and dark hair. Again, she has a slightly plump body. The camera does not focus on her face, but she seems from a distance to have eyes with epicanthic folds (a little research turns up the information that this model is Maggie Yumi Brown, who is in fact Asian-American). The view shifts again and shows a woman’s hand zipping up a black dress.

Next, the view is of another woman sitting at a restaurant, holding hands with a man across the table from her. She has light brown skin and dark hair. She smiles. The scene changes to a white woman with blonde hair, standing on a balcony with a man. They wear formal attire. They turn to look at the nighttime cityscape in front of them, and the camera pans down towards candles in the foreground before the image fades to black.

The view is now of a grand piano. The camera pans slowly to the side, revealing that the singer whose voice has overlaid all these images is a man dressed as an apple. Men dressed as clusters of grapes play drums and stand-up bass. A man dressed as a leafy vine mops the floor in what appears to be a lounge of some type.

White text appears across the dark background at the bottom of the screen. It reads: “Fit for Me.” It is followed by the Fruit of the Loom logo.

Transcript complete! Now, let’s chat.

Okay, so, the first thing that just really leaps out of this ad at me is that the women in it are shaped kind of like I am. It’s weird! They have soft bellies and hips and round thighs. Not quite as soft and round as mine, and they also have fairly substantial breasts, which I pretty much don’t, but still! Full-figured women, in a commercial that isn’t about losing weight or somehow disguising chub. Amazing.

And part of what really amazes me about it is that the lingerie they’re shown in really isn’t disguising their bodies. It’s doing what bras and panties generally do, with no tummy flattening or thigh control in evidence. It looks cute, a little sexy, but mostly… Comfortable.

Also, the women are happy, and coded as pretty and romantically interesting. They are looking at themselves in mirrors and smiling. They are getting ready to go on dates. They are with men in candlelit settings. One of them is clearly visually indicated to be engaged or married. There’s also a variety of skin tones on display. No women visibly dating other women, however, nor women with visible disabilities. It’s not some kind of super-shining beacon for inclusiveness, don’t get me wrong. Still, this advertisement is actually not pinging my irritation sensors in any real way.

Now, I’m sure that only means I’m missing something. I mean, we’re still talking about a commercial, right? So what are you picking up that I’m not, good and bad? What do you like, what do you hate, and how does this ad fit into the continuum of advertisements for women’s undergarments? Discuss!

Comments

  1. says

    “Full-figured women, in a commercial that isn’t about losing weight or somehow disguising chub. Amazing.”

    I looked up the “fit for me” slogan from the end of the commercial and “Fit for Me” is Fruit of the Loom’s line of undergarments for fuller figures, so it’s less amazing that the commercial features full-figured women in this context since by definition it has to. The rest of the commercial (how, as you point out, the women are depicted as interesting and attractive, and how this is an “underwear without judgment” commercial) is still pleasantly surprising, though.

  2. Dom Camus says

    Unfortunately there’s an element of this you may have missed… either that or you’re way more tolerant than me.

    Notice where it says “Fit for Me” at the end? That’s Fruit of the Loom’s specialist range for [insert your favourite euphemism for not-stereotypical-model-shaped] women.

    As such, the ever-so-slightly curvy women in the ad are “advertisement fat” women. I suppose it still counts as progress over not showing such people at all, but it really annoys me because it’s insulting to the majority of the people they’re targetting this range at.

  3. ACW says

    Agreed. Overall, a mostly unoffensive commercial (for once!).
    Maybe I’m just picking at minutiae, but it still seems the camera intentionally tries to hide the left hands of the women not wearing rings.
    Should I interpret that only the women obviously wearing engagement rings are desirable? (Three guesses which ladies are wearing rings!) Or should I interpret that not to have an engagement ring is something I should hide, as the cameraman does?
    It’s *still* the more slender blonde who ends up on the rooftop with Ken in a tuxedo. Who are the others primping to meet?

  4. says

    (I didn’t want it, just read your transcript)
    Nice! I tend to agree with you- it’s not 100% inclusive, but it’s definitely a step forward. It seems like the media is moving towards displaying more body types as attractive. For a commercial, this is pretty awesome.

  5. Robin says

    “…how does this ad fit into the continuum of advertisements for women’s undergarments? “

    Well, I’d put it above the Victoria’s Secret ads with their uniformly skeletal models. (Not that thin people are necessarily a bad thing, but more variety would be good.) Although, even Vicki’s is doing a little better with their I-love-my-body campaign.

    @ACW: “Or should I interpret that not to have an engagement ring is something I should hide, as the cameraman does?”

    I think it’s more that the director / camera operator just felt that they didn’t need to *emphasize* the non-engaged women’s left hands since there’s “nothing to see”. Well, either that, or they’re playing it really old school in the belief that the left hand is evil and can only be tamed by symbols of male ownership. (Kidding. Southpaws unite!)

  6. sbg says

    It’s *still* the more slender blonde who ends up on the rooftop with Ken in a tuxedo. Who are the others primping to meet?

    Other Kens … or maybe other Barbies. We get to decide that. ;)

    I actually really like this commercial. It catches my eye and ear every time it’s on, and then I flash back to the FotL “Blue” commercial, which still tickles me just thinking about it.

    I know this ad is not perfect, but frankly it would be nigh on impossible to be entirely inclusive in a 15-20 second spot.

  7. Anemone says

    The Other Patrick, they’d need larger sizes and larger cup sizes. Those are definitely plus sized models (size 14?). They look good. I think I’d like the ad better though if they had the full range from skinny to very plus sized in one ad (though I don’t know how many lines have the full range of sizes like that).

  8. The Other Patrick says

    Okay, seriously – these women “need” garments for fuller figures? These are perfectly fine, sexy bodies I see there, how is that not fitting for normal clothes?

    Ugh.

  9. Anemone says

    I know that clothing for different size ranges needs to be cut and styled differently, not just sized larger, so of course they’ll have different lines for different size ranges. I’d still prefer mixed sizes in ads, though. Maybe a “look!, we have styles for every body” type of thing?

    It bothers me that I look at those women and think they’re fat, even though they look good. I need help. :(

  10. sbg says

    Anemone, I think the product is specifically geared for women deemed “plus sized*” in boob and butt, which is why there isn’t a full range of models used. It’s a bit annoying that there has to be a special line just for that, though.

    *I really frigging hate that term, btw. Why can’t there just be … sizes?

  11. sbg says

    Okay, seriously – these women “need” garments for fuller figures? These are perfectly fine, sexy bodies I see there, how is that not fitting for normal clothes?

    PS, clothes with bigger numbers on their tags are normal. :)

  12. Dom Camus says

    And, further to sbg’s PS: No need to be implying that “fine” and “sexy” are adjectives which apply only below average body sizes!

  13. sbg says

    It bothers me that I look at those women and think they’re fat, even though they look good. I need help.

    Knowing is half the battle? Seriously, though, we’re so inundated with images and reminders that if you venture too far into double digit (US) sizes, you are FAT and everyone knows FAT is bad. I think determining where the fat line lies is less important than realizing fat does not mean ugly.

    When I saw Valerie Bertinelli revealing her Jenny Craiged body complete with explaining how she saw a picture of herself and knew she had to do something, she was so dratted fat, I wanted to choke someone. Why? Because she was pretty much the same size as I am, and I am perfectly okay. She was, too. She was adorable. She still is, of course, but now I hate her a little bit.

  14. says

    To enlarge on some of the responses to The Other Patrick:

    ToP, I think the cognitive disconnect you’re experiencing is semantic. Like everyone else, including women, you’ve been taught that “full-figured” or any of its variations are euphemisms for “fat chick” and “fat chicks” are gross and disgusting. So you’re seeing “full-figured” women on this ad, knowing that means “gross, disgusting women”, and finding them attractive, and thinking someone’s short-changing these women by calling them “full-figured.

    As Anemone more or less pointed out, women DO need some kind of language to clue us in to which clothes are built for our builds as well as our sizes. Full-figured *should* simply indicate a different but equal body type to the rail-thin one Hollywood promotes as the only acceptable build. When you view the commercial from that perspective, it makes sense that these women are both sexually attractive and “full-figured.”

    Consider for contrast the term “Big and Tall” we use to let men know a line of clothes will fit their tall frames, their particularly broad shoulders, or their fat or muscular physiques. Even though “big” definitely can mean “fat” in this context, the term doesn’t have the ugly connotations of “full-figured” because to be fat is not quite as sinful for men as it is for women. And in any case, it’s okay if men aren’t great-looking – they do stuff like running countries and shit! They’re awesome anyway! Women, however? Purely decorative! What’s the point of their existence if they’re unappealing, right? ;)

    I think it’s time for yet another link to that Mitchell and Webb commercial we keep linking in comment threads.

  15. says

    Woah, hey there busy comment thread! I sleep off a migraine and come back online and see all manner of talk. Awesomes! Um, sadly, there is so much going on in the conversation here that I don’t think I can properly direct my @s, so I am just going to quickly run down a couple of things I’m thinking in response to stuff some of y’all are saying:

    – Yes, that the commercial is specifically advertising the “fit for me” line does mean that the models should be (and are) plus-sized women, and thus, the commercial featuring plus-sized women is not a surprise. My bad on poor phrasing, earlier. What I meant was more that it is surprising that this commercial is so body-positive. These women are not being shamed. The clothing is not about squashing their bodies into “acceptable” shapes. They are being shown as desirable women. And that is not so common!

    – As a few people have touched on, being a plus-sized woman myself I can say definitively that yes, there really is a need for different lines of garments for different shapes, and it’s reasonable to label them as such, ’cause that’s how you find things you want when browsing. I can wear really big sizes of things cut and designed for women with less-big hips and butts, but they aren’t ever going to fit as well or look as flattering as things that are actually designed with my chub in mind. And also, that need starts, for many women, at around size 12 or 14, which all of the models in this commercial appear to be above. They are still thinner than maaaaany fat women, yes, but I wouldn’t say that showing these legitimately plus-sized women in a commercial for plus-sized clothing is insulting to bigger plus-sized women. Though I would be much happier if there were models in the size 20+ range, and so on, as well.

    – Annnd in conclusion, thank you, Jenn, for pointing out that describing an attractive woman as “plus-sized” or “full-figured” or even “fat” shouldn’t actually be an insult to her. It’s a descriptor, like “blonde” or “tall.” I’m fat. Those models? Are fat. (Not quite as fat as me! But still fat. Yes.) I’m a lot of other things beyond fat, and so are they. But it’s a fair and accurate description, and it shouldn’t preclude “beautiful” or “attractive” or “romantically interesting.” And in this commercial, it doesn’t. Which I think is cool.

  16. says

    Although capitalism is pretty despicable, at least this much can be said for it: If there is money to be made in a market, even if that market requires deviating from a social norm and crafting an objectively positive message, that message will be crafted and that money will be made. I don’t think the makers of this commercial were thinking in terms of body-positive imagery and fat-acceptance. I think they were playing to the emotions of, and hoping to cash in on, a marginalized demographic.

  17. meerkat says

    It bothers me that I look at those women and think they’re fat, even though they look good.

    Because they can’t be fat and look good?

  18. says

    If there is money to be made in a market, even if that market requires deviating from a social norm and crafting an objectively positive message, that message will be crafted and that money will be made.

    I wish that were true, but it’s not. We’ve discussed before how industries leave money on the table by their refusal to even consider that certain things would be profitable. Here’s an example about films helmed by women characters, from William Goldman who notes how most unexpectedly successful films get pored over so filmmakers can discover what worked and replicate its success, but films featuring women and/or women’s issues that appeal to a broad market and make lots of money are unthinkingly dismissed as “non-recurring phenomenon”:

    http://thehathorlegacy.com/nobody-knows-anything-but-dont-tell-the-financiers/

    Egos and laziness get in the way, too:

    http://thehathorlegacy.com/why-discriminate-if-it-doesnt-profit/

  19. Anemone says

    It bothers me that I look at those women and think they’re fat, even though they look good.

    Because they can’t be fat and look good?

    I think I’m confused by the word “fat”. One the one hand, it’s a type of tissue found in the body and essential for health. No fat at all = very unhealthy. On the other hand, it’s pretty much an insult, the way lame and retarded are commonly used as insults. “Fat” somehow implies a weak mind in a weak body. I tend to use “plump” for someone who’s on the endomorphic side but is pretty healthy, and “overweight” for too much fat relative to body type, to avoid getting confused over what “fat” means.

    What bothers me is that I’m conditioned to thinking of women of this size as ugly because of their size, and I do react that way (good Pavlovian conditioning) even when I know they may well be much healthier than I am and I do think they look good.

    Is it even possible to get through life these days without acquiring some degree of body dysmorphic disorder or eating disorder?

  20. says

    @ Anemone –

    What bothers me is that I’m conditioned to thinking of women of this size as ugly because of their size, and I do react that way (good Pavlovian conditioning) even when I know they may well be much healthier than I am and I do think they look good.

    Yeah, that’s definitely an issue. And it applies very well to oneself, too. I’m fairly chill about my weight, but there are definitely days when I see myself in a mirror or look at a photo and go “omg I am so fat” as though that’s the same as “omg I am so gross.”

    I tend to think that commercials like this one, with plus-sized models who not only look attractive to me but are depicted as attractive in the context of the commercial can help assuage some of that cultural conditioning, myself. But it also makes it damn confusing to discuss!

  21. sbg says

    I’m fairly chill about my weight, but there are definitely days when I see myself in a mirror or look at a photo and go “omg I am so fat” as though that’s the same as “omg I am so gross.”

    We could be twins. Despite knowing that there is nothing unhealthy about me or wrong with my shape, it can be a struggle on some days to not be horrified when I catch myself in a reflection. It’s SO easy to fall into that “if I could just get rid of this cellulite I’d be so happy” trap. I’ve been twenty pounds lighter – and, yep, I wasn’t happy and I still had the cellulite. Genetics, yo.

    But we’re bombarded with some pretty horrific diet ads* every day, making it seem like we should be doing everything in our power and then some to be skinny.

    Frankly, it’s not an attainable goal for everyone, and it shouldn’t be. Our bodies are all different machines, and they all process things differently. In order for me to be “acceptably thin” I would quite literally have to work out four hours a day and eat next to nothing. Please don’t tell me that sounds healthy. It sounds helly. I will keep my squish and my sanity, okay?

    Anyway, long story short, the fact that this ad is remarkable just because it’s not too offensive says a lot about our society as a whole.

    *Click that link only if you’re brave; the product’s motto is “It’s great to be thin!”

  22. says

    I definitely have a knee-jerk reaction when I look at a woman, in which I instantly see her the way we were trained to when I was a girl in the 80s. In the 80s, you had to have lots of visible bones, or you were a Fatty Fatty Fat Fat. Now, when I see half-dressed actresses who aren’t remotely bony, my instant reaction is to wonder how she’s “getting away” with that. Then my conscious brain kicks in and I’m happy women no longer have to be skeletal to be considered non-disgusting. But I don’t know if I’ll ever fully bleach the initial reaction from my brain. I think because I learned it while my brain was still forming, it may just be stuck in there forever.

    In response to Anemone’s final question, I don’t think it IS possible to go through life without developing some major neurotic distortions about eating and/or what women’s bodies should look like. :(

  23. sbg says

    Incidentally, has anyone actually tried this product? I’m not huge up top, but I’m not exactly tiny either. If these bras are as comfy as the ad makes them look – this ad might have won out a test-try. ;)

    I’m having deja vu – have we talked about Fruit of the Loom before?

  24. says

    @Jennifer But, but, but… what about Twilight, darnit? Say what we will about the film, its thin plotline and its awful messages directed at young women, it is a flick (and book) being sold primarily to women, and making money hand over fist. I know it’s only one instance, and drivel at that, but I recall hearing somewhere that it was causing Hollywood to take notice of the female demographic. (Seems like they would’ve thought of that earlier, though. Jerks.)

  25. Amy says

    I agree that this does do some of us curvy girls some justice by showing that you don’t have to some size 2 blond model to get a husband/date.
    This is a little off topic, but does anyone know what genre of music this is?

  26. Marty from Modesto says

    The one thing that jumped out of the video to me was the legs in the bathtub. Every time I see the commercial, I feel that this woman was contorted to get into that frame and she had to have her entire body under the water to get close to that position.
    How long can a woman hold her breath just to sell Underwear?

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