by Maya Brown

A couple of weeks ago SPARK posted a blog about Candies, a clothing and apparel brand for tweens and teens and their mixed messages. While Candies shoes and clothing ads have a penchant for sexualized images, the Candies Foundation focuses on preventing teen pregnancy, often using an abstinence-only message.  We at SPARK found this appalling that Candies could be so hypocritical. Candies uses sex to sell their clothing and then turns right around to preach abstinence and talk about their desire to change teen culture for the better–and we’re not supposed to notice?

Well, recently a lovely staff member from Hardy Girls Healthy Women, one of SPARK’s partner organizations, attended the ISIS-sponsored Sex-Tech conference in San Francisco (ISIS is another SPARK partner) and had the chance to talk with a representative from the Candies Foundation.  The rep had actually read our blog and agreed with us about the hypocrisy.  It’s always great to know we’re being heard.

When I heard that Candies started a contest to design a new clothing ad I was excited. What a better opportunity to make Candies think twice?  What a  better way to invite them to change how they’re portraying women in their ads?  Right?! Wrong. When I went on the Candies website, there wasn’t a place to make any sort of ad I wanted to see.  There wasn’t a place I could upload my own pictures or even a variety of pictures to choose from.  Instead what I saw was a cookie cutter mold for sexist ads.  There were about 10 pictures of Vanessa Hudgens, the current “Candies Girl,” in various sexualized positions and states of undress.  My favorite one had Vanessa in heels wearing a bikini, because that’s practical.  The site gives the appearance of freedom and creativity by letting me choose various designs and other items of clothing to include in the ad, but in reality any advertisement I made would be pretty much the same. Not to mention that in order to submit the ad I’d have to upload a Candies logo, all of which are pink or white.

So what can we do?  Now that we have their attention, let’s tell Candies what we really think. We can take their sexist ad contest and throw it right back at them. So go ahead, log on and make an ad for them, but make it satiric.  Use the functions they supply, like text boxes and a drawing pen and question the sexist ads they’re selling.  Someone in the company has to be reading these entries.  If enough of us band together and question their ad campaign, maybe they’ll listen. We want them to stop selling made-up, scantily dressed models in their ads, and reflect the goals of their foundation.

Let’s show them we mean business.  Comment and suggest ideas, submit your own made-over ad or e-mail the Candies Foundation your new ad showing real girls.  Be sure to take a screen shot and post on our SPARK Facebook page, too!  Remember the Candies rep read our blogs!  These companies are listening.  We just need to speak loud and clear enough that they can’t ignore us anymore. To all the girls out there supporting us, we are making a difference and we can change the world, one blog at a time.