Say what you want about 2016 but it has been a pretty rubbish year for politics, celebrities (death), and current affairs. I am so glad that Marks and Spencer and John Lewis have chosen to create light-hearted, warm Christmas adverts that make us feel like all is not lost.
As much as I loved John Lewis’ advert, I do think that the one that stood out to me above the rest was Marks & Spencer’s. No, I am not being biased because although I love M & S’ food, drinks, clothes (and just about everything else), I feel as though it shouldn’t matter when choosing a favourite Christmas advert. I mean, I spend much of my time (and money) in John Lewis’ make-up and perfume section as it is!
I think, being a lady who’s always striven to get the message out there that women shouldn’t be limited to what they can and can’t do, Janet McTeer‘s role is pivotal in getting this across. She’s elegant, glamorous, oozes class and sophistication. The Oscar-nominated star plays the doting wife of Santa, supporting her husband by fulfilling a last-minute request made by seven-year-old Jake who wants to please his 11-year-old sister Anna after months of squabbles. He contacts Santa & Mrs Claus in a bid to resolve a situation where Tiger (the family dog) ate Anna’s favourite trainers.
After receiving his letter, Mrs Claus sets off in a helicopter no less (she don’t do things by halves, you get me?!) “slaying” the streets of North Pole on her quest to find the nearest M&S so she can pop in and pick up a pair of the brightest, most beautiful sparkly red trainers (in keeping with her red clothing theme) to deliver to Jake.
Thankfully, Mrs Claus manages to save the day and Jake makes up with his big sister, bringing the family together for a lovely, jolly and merry Christmas.
All puns aside, it’s a stunning advert that portrays feminism, family values and the spirit of Christmas perfectly – and it also helps that it’s cleverly advertising the products sold at M&S too – those mince pies for instance… In the words of Joey Essex: “NAUGHTY!” 😋
P.S. you CAN’T buy the helicopter or the North Pole from M & S so don’t even try it…
Boots‘ new No7 advert is one to watch and remember… If you havent seen it yet, get watching by clicking on the red and white play button above. I mean, let’s face it, you’re going to want to see this because it’s got the World’s leading feminist, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, fronting it.
Firstly, as a lady, I’d like to start by saying that even I hate the term “feminism” because it makes it sound as though we, females, put ourselves above the male population. That is not true in the slightest! Feminism, in essence, is about equality; the ability to be equals in society, because right now (and previously) that has sadly not been the case… Women should be allowed to do a “man’s job”. Women should be allowed to receive as much pay as a man earns when working in the same role. Females should not be seen as the inferior gender because there shouldn’t even be an inferior:superior ratio to begin with. Feminism isn’t about “us”, it’s about “equality”. Rant over!
Chimamanda, the Nigerian world-renowned and award-winning author who has appeared on Ted Talks‘ ‘We Should All Be Feminists‘, which featured in Beyoncé’s ‘Flawless‘ track, is the woman that every lady should aspire to be. She is an ambassador for women’s rights and knows all too well the difficulties we face in employment and society in general.
As far as adverts about female empowerment and validation go, this one is by far the strongest. It sends a clear message that us girls don’t need to “not wear makeup” or “hide” our “high heels” to “be taken seriously”. We should be allowed to exist in a society that accepts us because makeup “doesn’t mean anything, it’s just makeup”. You know what (or who) means something? The lady wearing it. She who wears it, how she composes herself, how she carries herself, how she feels, what she says… Makeup is just an enhancement to our natural beauty, it’s nothing more than that. High heels and/or fitted clothes the same…
It saddens me that Chimamanda ever had to stop wearing makeup and high heels in order to get noticed. But, luckily, she “woke up” and realised that in not doing so she was portraying a “false version” of herself. For many of us, makeup and clothes give us confidence. That’s not to say we’re not confident in our skin, we just happen to love make-up and enjoy looking our best.
I’m extremely glad that she is discussing our relationship with makeup because it’s only skin-deep. Society thinks it runs deeper than that, but it really doesn’t. Let it be a known fact that we are not wearing makeup to “impress someone”, we are not wearing makeup to seduce others, we wear it because we want to.
Speaking in her Ted Talk, Adichie said that the word feminist was “so heavy with baggage, negative baggage. You hate men, you hate bras, you hate African culture.” Instead, she said, she wanted to be identified as a “happy African feminist who does not hate men and who likes lip gloss and who wears high heels for herself but not for men”.
“Sadly, women have learnt to be ashamed and apologetic about pursuits that are seen as traditionally female, such as fashion and make-up.
Chimamanda recently shared a 9,000 word speech on Facebook where she described how best to raise a feminist daughter. You can read it in full HERE.
A snippet of it reads: “If she likes make-up let her wear it; if she likes fashion let her dress up. But if she doesn’t like either let her be … Feminism and femininity are not mutually exclusive. It is misogynistic to suggest that they are.
“Sadly, women have learnt to be ashamed and apologetic about pursuits that are seen as traditionally female, such as fashion and make-up.”
During her Ted Talk, Chimamanda also mentioned the pressure of attempting to look less feminine before teaching her first writing class for fear that she wouldn’t be taken seriously.
She said: “I really wanted to wear my shiny lip gloss and my girly skirt but I decided not to.
“Instead I wore a very serious, very manly, and very ugly suit. Because the sad truth is that when it comes to appearance, we start off with men as the standard, as the norm.
“If a man is getting ready for a business meeting, he doesn’t worry about looking too masculine, and therefore not being taken seriously.
“If a woman is getting ready for a business meeting she has to worry about looking too feminine, and what it says, and whether or not it will be taken seriously.”
That is the saddest thing I’ve ever heard… Imagine having to change what you wear for fear of not being listened to? The thought alone is beyond heartbreaking.
When thinking about it, anyone who has ever used the quote: “you can tell a lot about a lady by the way they dress” is being unintentionally sexist, not to mention incorrect. Clothes and makeup are luxuries, they are not necessities. The foundations of life are built on who we are, how we treat people, and the ways in which we act and not which brand of concealer we use. A lady who chooses to dress up and show up is more-often-than-not a lady who has enough time (or makes it) to get ready because she likes taking care of her appearance.
A teacher of mine once said: “if you look good, you feel good and if you feel good, you do good”, never a truer word spoken.
So, ladies, let this advert be a turning point for us in a hope that we begin to be taken seriously with or without makeup on our faces and heels on our feet. Also, this is in no way an advert that’s forcing women to wear makeup. Alicia Keys has rocked the no makeup look for years and we salute her.
Instead, this advert is supposed to empower those that do wear makeup yet feel less worthy than a man who just turns up to work in the same job but gets paid a larger salary or listened to more carefully. It’s also not a dig at men — far from it. Men, you are legends, we love and respect you wholeheartedly. We just want to be seen as equals. We just want there to be no gender inequality, we are one!