Bikes are better than sex, you say?

Victoria PendletonI wonder how many men would’ve seriously watched Titanic had Kate Winslet not been sprawled, breasts flopping everywhere, wearing only that necklace, or how well-known Megan Fox would be now had she not been all arse and kumquats in the first Transformers film. Chances are their franchises wouldn’t have been half as profitable, were it not for these sexually aloof women obliterating our screens with their promise of allure and unadulterated magnetism that made those men’s eyes – and other parts – jiggle about a bit. But what would happen if, for once, sex didn’t sell? What if there was no such presage ‘if you’re sexy, you’re successful’? The world would react in uproar – wouldn’t it?


Well, nearly. Rihanna has reportedly been ‘slammed’ by Nivea chain bosses and given an indirect chastisement by the multifaceted megabrand for being, well, too bloody risqué, and has therefore been axed as the face of their latest campaign. Instead, Rihanna is being replaced by more ‘wholesome-looking’ spokespeople, in order to keep in line with the family-oriented brand. And although Rihanna may be a huge success in her own right, it just goes to show that no matter your credentials in the media industry, sometimes it just doesn’t quite fit the bill.


In favour of Rihanna, rising stars such as Olympic athlete Victoria Pendleton are set to bring home the bacon, with Pendleton alone bringing in a cool £1 million with all the fashion, make-up and lifestyle brands that she is endorsing over the coming months. And whilst we all may feel slightly hard-done-by with Rihanna becoming unlawfully axed, it is rather essential that a different order of women, within the typically unfeminine vortex of sports and professional athleticism, take the reins in favour of typical poster girls that saturate the market.


Rihanna and NiveaSo, is this the new curveball in the media, commemorating women as being more than merely sexual objects and respected more for their achievements than their cup size?


Well, not exactly. Whilst Pendleton may be something quite extraordinarily unheard of in the luxury brand market, it is quite an obvious choice. Pendleton, whilst being an athlete, is absolutely stunning and it wouldn’t be surprising if other beautiful athletes such as Jessica Ennis, Tom Daley or Steve Lewis were to be seen plugging a new fragrance or a plush range of Veet razors any time soon.


In so many words, advertising is a competitively beautiful business, where one image can build a conglomerate alone, meaning the chosen star to front the brand has to be a walking embodiment of the message it elevates. Imagining a Mo Farah advert for deodorant, or a Rebecca Adlington campaign for nail varnish are both highly unlikely and really puts the whole shallow business of it all into devastating perspective.


But what is expected in a consumerist culture is essentially all down to us – the consumers. We want to see pretty faces that we can aspire to to sell us things, so that we can say, ‘that is the product I want because I want to look like that’. But it’s not like Rihanna will suffer from this minor blip in her career – what with all her Grammy-winning albums and other multiple endorsements that she’s dealing with at the moment, I’m sure she’ll be fine. With this in mind, it is invigorating to see a new face telling all these snot-nosed A-Listers that it’s time for them to step down… our concept of ‘beautiful’ could be changing…


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