Is the New Billboard Really an Improvement?

by Web Intern

Remember the heated discussion we were having about the Calvin Klein billboard in SoHo?

Some felt that it was too racy to be up in public where kids could see it, others felt that it should be left alone as art. We’re even divided on the issue here at BUST (so what I’m saying here is my opinion but not necessarily everyone’s).

Well, now CK has put up a different ad, replacing the steamy scene with a chick in a bikini. The question remains whether the company would have changed the ad anyway or if they were buckling to public pressure. That doesn’t matter, really. What is bothersome is that somehow an almost-naked lady is less risque than the last billboard.

OK, sure, the previous one was more overtly sexual – it had a bit of an orgy thing going on compared to a ‘swimming’ thing – but these sorts of pictures of women are damaging as well. We were worried about kids asking questions about sex, now we have to worry about the damage being done to our daughters’ body image. I know I certainly look like that in a string bikini, and I’m betting most of you don’t either. Which is absolutely 100% OK. But a lot of women, young and old, still struggle with accepting and loving themselves, so having a gigantic reminder of their supposed ‘imperfection’ every time they step out of the Broadway-Lafayette subway stop doesn’t help. Plus, there’s that ongoing concept of women being seen only for their bods. At least the last ad had men in it too – 3 of them compared to one woman, in fact. And we can’t pretend that showing a dripping wet woman in a string isn’t sexual or objectifying to at least some degree, even if she isn’t actually having sex at that exact moment.

I know that CK makes all different kinds of clothes, but they are known for jeans. Great jeans. I have had them in the past, they fit me well and were comfy. I especially like that Calvin Klein makes plus sized jeans that still have good style without really being any more expensive. Their ad campaigns, to my memory, are usually denim-centric. This bikini shot doesn’t really fit with that.

It sort of feels like the company is trying to slap their critics in the face by putting up even more skin in a way that (far too many) people find acceptable. And no, I don’t believe in censorship. I don’t think these sorts of things should be banned. But I can still point out problems, as long as fixing them comes from within instead of from some sort of First Amendment-defying mandate. -Liza

(pictures via

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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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