FEMINIST FRIDAY: Benetton’s ‘United By Half’ & This Girl Can Celebrates ‘Phenomenal Women’

Since it is Women’s History Month, this weeks’ edition of Feminist Friday is an ode to some of the bold, empowering and feminist statements being made about women around the world. International Women’s Day on March 8 should not be the only day we raise awareness about the need for continual gender equality or challenging our preconceived notions about gender roles in society.

But while there is an added focus on this issue during the month of March, we are dedicating a lot of our content to the work of women and girls who are pushing boundaries and creating positive, equal change. We’ve shared a number of video campaigns from various brands which are recognizing that the whole “sex sells” and objectifying women’s bodies to turn a profit is not going to fly anymore.

And yes, it is easy to criticize a brand, which at the end of the day exists to turn a profit. But many of these companies have incredible reach and influence, and have the ability to start a conversations en masse. If the sexual objectification through advertising has played a huge role in the way women’s bodies, choices and lives are treated in the real world, at the very least, the “femvertising” trend can be one piece in the slow cultural evolution toward the way we subtly taught to view and think about women’s role in society.

Italian brand Benetton released a video called ‘United By Half’ which was specifically targeted for the Indian audience. It shows a string of various social scenarios, young girls playing together, a couple getting married, women in the workforce, a guy and a girl out on a date, an older woman graduating from college with her husband and children around her, and more. The idea was to send a message about women being of equal value in society to men, which is not always the case across India and parts of Asia in traditional conservative cultures.

Along with the roll out of this campaign, they are also launching the two-year Sustainable Livelihood Project, which will support women working at home and in the garment sector in Bangladesh and Pakistan, helping them acquire loans for small businesses, offering training courses, and starting conversations about workplace safety. When a brand’s video campaign is only the tip of the iceberg and they are pledging to put their money where their proverbial mouth is, that’s something we can get behind.

Department story Barneys New York has released a video that is less about explicit product promotion or a simplistic, generic female empowerment message, and instead decided to dig a little deeper into politics and women’s rights. Acknowledging the current political climate in the US where women and social activists have been raising their voices ever since the monumental Women’s March in January, as part of its ‘We Will Be’ campaign, Barneys made a video which has been screening in the display windows of its stores.

They partnered with the High School of Fashion Industries to showcase 34 of its female students talking about their plans for the future, and how they see themselves in the world. The content highlights strong women in society and was developed in partnership with The Barneys New York Foundation, women’s media and leadership platform MAKERS. Watch below:

Finally, we will leave you all with some high energy, body positivity. Some of you may already be familiar with the UK-based ‘This Girl Can’ campaign, whose first video went viral online with its diverse portrayal of women’s bodies involved in various activities being a deliberate middle finger to all the body-shamers who tell women that there is only one way to be healthy, happy or beautiful.

Thank GOD for messages that are breaking through this dangerous way of thinking. We love that women and girls are being given permission to love the body they are in, and reach for optimum health and happiness wherever they are right now because a certain number on a scale doesn’t define our worth.

In this video, we not only see women boxing, dancing, competing in roller derby and karate competitions, but also women giving birth, nurturing their children, staying active in their old age, and celebrating the community of badass females around them. Set to narration by Maya Angelou reading her famous poem ‘Phenomenal Woman’, we know will give you all the feels and inspiration you need!

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