At first glance, I honestly thought there was nothing wrong with it.
Four incredibly gorgeous women, dressed in bikinis, having fun at the beach and briefing travelers on aircraft safety for Air New Zealand’s latest in-flight safety video.
So why were presumably smart and well-educated women, including Hilary Barry, Pam Corkery and Deborah Russell taking exception to this bit of fun?
“Air New Zealand’s new safety video has made me very angry,” Hilary Barry tweeted. “Shame on you and shame on the message you are perpetuating.”
Of course the media took that and ran with it – but no one bothered asking Hilary Barry for her exact reasoning behind her view.
Maybe I’m the only thicko that didn’t get it instantly, and mulled over it the entire day, questioning my beliefs and what I was missing.
I mean it’s the whole undies, undies – togs, togs argument right?
These beautiful swimsuit models are at the beach in the Cook Islands, where I’m guessing swim wear is appropriate attire, regardless of breast size.
Yes, it’s an airplane safety video, but it’s also promoting the Cook Islands as a holiday destination, and advertisers have been selling tropical island vacations with shots of perfectly-proportioned sun-kissed beach babes clad in swim wear forever.
I mean, the girls look like they’re having so much fun, and seem so NICE and friendly, so relateable. And gosh don’t the Cook Islands look beautiful? I really must get there one day.
But something deeper lay beneath those sparkling blue waters and adorable smiles, something that I wasn’t even aware of, because I’ve become so accustomed to beautiful creatures selling me all sorts of messages, ideas, experiences and…stuff.
Today, women in many countries are entitled to an education, a driver’s licence, to vote, buy and own property, and earn seats in council chambers, parliament and board rooms.
Despite this, we are still not equal with our male counterparts. A lot more work is required to protect more women and girls from domestic violence, sexual harassment and assault, while continuing to promote economic equality.
Many will argue that we have equal opportunity and that special allowances would only negate the purpose of equality.
This may be true, but the pervasive attitude remains, that women are inferior. Of course no one walks around saying this out loud, no one to my knowledge is writing a book promoting the idea and it’s not something kids are taught in schools, and I hope, not by their parents.
But it’s still there. I read an interesting article last month, explaining how calling women “bitch”, “slut” and “crazy” is in many cases a verbal cop out for men. The article is written by a man who was attempting to improve his attitude towards and his relationship with women.
Be honest now. How many times have you heard women referred to as sluts or whores in every day conversation?
Or ladies, how many times have you been at your wits end with frustration, and been called crazy for expressing too much anger, sadness or passion?
And hands up who’s been called a bitch for doggedly making a point, sticking up for yourself or asserting your opinion a little too acutely?
No one has taught us to feel that way, but it’s there all around us. In the never-ending stream of video clips, advertisements, movies, television programmes and magazines that we unconsciously ingest every single day, dictating how we ought to look, and behave.
We have no choice, there’s no escaping it, unless you live like a hermit, and that’s not progress.
But if we start questioning what we’re seeing, and the messages we’re delivered perhaps we’ll begin to view the world, it’s people, ourselves and what’s really important, a little more clearly.
Maybe this knowledge will even set us free from chasing impossible ideals, and result in living a happier life.
I hope this piece, which is the result of much soul-searching and discussion, encourages you to re-think your paradigms and what you accept as normal. Or am I way off the mark? Please share your thoughts and tell me what you think.