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Teasing-Thigh Billboards in Japan

July 24, 2013

Advertisements on women’s thighs.

I won’t hesitate to call it one of the most gross examples of our super-saturated, misogynistic capitalistic world. The female body has literally become a walking billboard for whatever businesses fancy-as well as sex, of course.

tokyo thigh advertising

“Ted” advertised on a girl’s thigh, sourced from Huffingtonpost.com July 23rd, 2013

Because, really, how can one possibly look at a young girl’s thighs and, whether one is male or female, gay or straight, NOT think about sex? The adverts, touted by CEO Hidenori Atsumi and his PR company WIT and applied not unlike a fake tattoo, are not placed on the arm or calve or knee but right on a girl’s thigh. Interestingly enough, the thigh-verts are only attracting attention in the Western world now, but Japanese site The Asahi Shimbun reported on them back in January. If the premise was simply this-an advert on a woman’s thigh-it would be an all-time low for greedy capitalists, but WIT didn’t stop at that.

Women who want to be walking billboards-taking the concept of “promotional girls” to the extreme- have to be young. Not altogether surprising, since I doubt there are many women over the age of 25 who are lacking in such…self-dignity? But not any young lady can tease with her thigh: the girls must have at least 20 friends using Social Media (doesn’t seem too difficult, unless they mean ACTUAL, real-life friends, right?!) and are encouraged to wear short skirts (obviously) with, ahem, knee socks. Knee socks? I know the Japanese have a fetish for kiddy icons (I love Hello Kitty, I admit) and extremely “youthful” looking styles are the norm for girls way past high school (see the girls of Harajuku made famous by singer Gwen Stefani) but this just pushes the look into a sexual-make that pedophilic-territory.

Another likely, but not mentioned, requirement is that the young ladies be pretty. All of the ladies in the pictures were skinny and attractive, and while one might argue that these women are “models” and thus should be attractive enough to catch a man’s attention, in this case a plumper model would be  a better model. After all, more thigh inches mean more advertising space! Think of the bonanza this company could make if they used an average American female!

But let me stop with the snark: ultimately, I feel that this is a new low for humanity. Why is it that women’s bodies are always a source of contention? Why are women’s bodies always up for sale? Why do we hear all about famous female supermodels but can anyone name one famous male model (OK, so i can name Mario Divinao, but I doubt many outside of Italy/Europe know who he is). At the same time we seem to celebrate the female body, we are constantly degrading it and poking at it, cutting it, shaving it, smoothing it, and now plastering it with conspicuous consumption.

I hate capitalism because, despite it’s merits, capitalism creates greedy people who do heartless things (see blood diamonds and modern-day slavery, two things I will talk about in future posts). I hate how society is constantly degrading females. I like models and photos and fashion, despite the hypocrisy that exists within these industries-and yes, they are sadly industries-but thigh billboards invite perverts to stare at women’s thighs and-God forbid-try to sneak a peak, a closer look.  Having never been to Japan I can’t speak for Japanese society, but I know for a fact if women in New York City started sporting these stickers there’d likely be a lot of sexual harassment cases springing up.

Do the girls get paid for wearing these temporary tattoos? Yes. Are they forced to wear them? No-and in fact, there seems to be a stampede of ladies signing up to wear the tattoos for 8 hours a day. One might argue that this is just another way for women to empower themselves and earn some quick and-admittedly easy-cash.

But I ask this: would men ever wear the temporary billboards on their thighs? Would any PR maven dare to ask them to? I think not….

5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 25, 2013 1:38 AM

    I am torn on this because… well, I’m male. I would look at these ads. But I would also ask myself, “Is something that feels it has to resort to mixing the message of the product with the idea of sex something that actually has value?” If a product has value, just tell me about the product. Don’t try and trick me.

    But I’ll also admit that – even if male – I’m not the average consumer. I don’t have any credit card debt. I don’t own a home. Both my cars are paid off. I don’t have cable or satellite TV. I don’t even own a smart phone (yet).

    I think there are really multiple questions which must be asked, including “Why do these women feel it’s okay?”, “Why do these companies feel this is good for marketing?” and “How do we educate our youth to have enough respect to not fall for the idiocy of such marketing techniques?”

    We live in a mad world, but that’s no excuse.

    • August 2, 2013 11:06 PM

      LOL I rather like your “We live in a mad world, but that’s no excuse” line!

      And yes, the thigh-verts are definitely promoting more than just the product. I’m curious to know what else besides Green Day and the movie Ted have been promoted. The whole thing just strikes me as unclassy, not even a rebel cool way but in a pathetic way.

  2. July 26, 2013 10:41 PM

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  3. August 3, 2013 4:27 PM

    Interesting post. The idea of thigh-based advertising is something I never would have thought of, but that’s why I’m not in the ad business I guess. And to your point about women over 25 having too much dignity to wear these kinds of ads – I’m not so sure about that. I’d guess it’s more of an issue of personality than of age.

    Still, what an idea.

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