Tarted-up toddlers in 4-inch heels

The ads for Beyonc


Sarah Hepola
May 15, 2008 12:00AM (UTC)

As a kid, I loved to play dress-up. I was a 4-year-old who never met a sparkly object I didn't like. If it had been up to me, I would have dressed myself entirely in fish lures. So why do I find these ads for Beyoncé's House of Deréon so depressing? Eh, maybe it's the fuck-me pumps. Maybe it's that these (tight, trashy) clothes aren't silly dress-up costumes; they're actual everyday outfits. But wait, no -- what I actually find unsettling is the blank look on that girl's face, standing on the right. Something about her look just unnerves me. It's not like she's getting gussied up for fun; she's working it.

So far, the reaction to the Deréon campaign has been largely negative. In a breathless column in today's New York Post, conservative columnist Michelle Malkin decried the ads as "sick and wrong" -- a bit of a reach, but a stout 88 percent of readers polled on Perez Hilton's site also found the ads inappropriate. (And these are readers, presumably, who actually find Perez Hilton appropriate.)

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As I stared at the ad in the Salon office, trying to articulate what bothered me about it, one staffer voiced the opinion that it may not be so far off from other children's ads in, say, Cookie Magazine. And come to think of it, that depresses me, too.


Sarah Hepola

Sarah Hepola is the author of the New York Times bestselling memoir, "Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget."

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