Is She Too Sensitive?
Last month, two brands unwittingly stepped into a proverbial mound of poop when the fallout from their poorly advised marketing initiatives hit the fan. (We’ve got a definite theme happening here.) Macy’s introduced a flatware line that featured food portion outlines that tied the amount of food a woman eats to the type of pant she is likely to sport; i.e. Mom jeans, skinny jeans etc. Hmmm, how could this go wrong? Here’s the thing, I’ve heard discussions and had discussions about this marketing slip with good friends and yes, my girlfriends and I would have had a good belly laugh if I made a reference of that sort about myself. But we would never cross that line of play with each other – women just won’t. So, while Macy’s discovered a gold nugget insight about how women associate food portion size with their jean size, they didn’t tap into the insight that women won’t be playful about each other’s weight. It’s an unwritten law, I believe. In fact, I’m sure it’s actually written down somewhere. Maybe even etched in stone, because this will never change.
Brand slip #2 belongs to Forever 21, who sent out diet bars to its online shoppers in their delivery packages. Oh my. This one is yikes-worthy. Forever 21 defended its gaffe by announcing that every online shopper received a diet bar, not just the plus sizes. Well, I don’t care what size a woman is, she doesn’t want to be gifted a diet bar. Never, ever, ever! This sort of gift opens up a pandora’s box of insecurity that can’t be washed away with empty platitudes.
A brand misstep of this sort is inevitably followed by social media outrage and varying opinions about whether or not women are just too sensitive now.
So, is she too sensitive? The answer for brands is, no, she isn’t. She’s laden with the beauty baggage society has heaped onto her back – she’s a Sherpa for beauty baggage. She’s either too much or not enough – it’s exhausting and infuriating.
Macys and Forever 21 stumbled, that’s all, and they responded swiftly to rectify the slip. They also provided learnings for other brands. Here’s the takeaway. She has a sense of humor and she can laugh at herself, but beauty is a source of angst and pain that remains an open wound that has yet to heal, so don’t go there.
She’s not too sensitive. She’s had enough of being too much or not enough.