Allow Elizabeth Arden to Point Out Your Flaws

Vogue April 2009 Prevage Ad
Vogue April 2009 Prevage Ad

It’s not enough that in advertising most photos are endlessly retouched, often beyond recognition. But to have the chutzpah to use a mannequin in place of a real woman as part of the ad is ridiculous and insulting! Well, that’s Prevage, the new product from Elizabeth Arden

The obvious dividing lines around the major limbs of the body (for easy detachment and renewal, perhaps) are what caught my eye in the ad in the April 2009 issue of Vogue. Of course, such lines are never found on a real woman, but only on a mannequin.

The ad is seemingly innocuous and even pleasing to the eye: simple colors, simple lines, and a simple message. The text is also simple: from a terse “total transformation” to a full statement, “I want firmer, smoother looking skin with no sign of stretch marks or age spots” to the actual name, “Prevage” which of course reads: “prevent age.” However, the psychological effect it has on women is anything but simple.

Vogue April 2009 Prevage Ad Text Detail
Vogue April 2009 Prevage Ad Text Detail

The tube of Prevage is strategically placed at the forefront and blown up to the size of the wom– er– mannequin. The advertisement states to the consumer that not only will this cream help with all the head-to-toe problems (come on, admit it, you’re just not perfect), but that every woman is plighted with such problems that need to be either prevented or taken care of ASAP.

Great, where do I buy a tube, or three, or, what’s the limit again? Finally: a solution to ALL our (women’s) peskiest problems! This is exactly how the advertisers want the consumer to react. But who allotted those problems?

Although a bottle of Prevage first appears as a salvation, they are not actually promoting a solution. What they are doing is making women feel damaged and shameful of being a functioning human being. How about this for a retort: “It is better to be a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.”? Thank you, Confucius.

What I don’t understand is this: Are they saying that after using their ground-breaking cream a woman will end up looking as “perfect” as a mannequin? Or that the mannequin is the epitome of beauty, which a cosmetic surgery enthusiast can’t even live up to? To use Photoshop to take a blemish or two off a model is the rage, but to use a man-made statue as the promoter of a cream is just absurd.

I personally do not know of any men who have complained about crow’s feet or a stretch mark, or whatever else the cream is supposed to erase and banish from existence. But a perfectly lifeless girlfriend? That might raise a few complaints.


Olya Krapivina graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2008 with a B.A. in Cultural Anthropology. She has always been interested in people’s psychology and behavior. Journalism and writing have also been of major interest to her.

10 thoughts on “Allow Elizabeth Arden to Point Out Your Flaws

  1. I wonder how many women did not notice the blatant problems with the ad… um that she’s not real. Prevage should fire their retouch artist… you would think they were trying to make it represent a woman and just failed. It makes me curious as to just how many ads are being printed with mannequins instead of retouched women.

  2. “Freckles are definitely not cute anymore”?

    I don’t usually get upset about advertisements. But, they usually don’t INSULT me. This is a standard I’d expect to see in an ad from the 50’s.

    I’m not picking up Elizabeth Arden stuff any time soon, because the brand is going to be mentally assoiciated with being pissed off.

  3. Okay, this ad just rubs me wrong in all aspects.
    I’m a very athletic person and even I don’t have a firm bum.

    Oh, and has anyone else noticed that this ad is advertising something else?? SHOES!
    Down at the bottom it reads: “roughness and sun damage, dryness and dimpled skin. Only one other thing makes them look better–beautiful shoes”.
    Shoes, of course. Because what kind of woman doesn’t like shoes!? I smell stereotypical bull–t!

    Gah, thanks Prevage for pointing out all the flaws that distort a perfectly un-perfect normal human female body.

  4. Whoops! Yes, I realize I had a spelling error.

    I meant to write “imperfect” not “un-perfect”.

  5. Sibyl: i didn’t even see the freakles comment, is it for another cream by e.a. or is it the same one? honestly, some of the things they print is beyond shocking. and i def agree with the 50’s feel to it.

    Danielle: shoes? really?!!! wow.

    Thank you for the observant comments ladies!

  6. Scary. I’m all about slowing down the aging process, but to insinuate that every imperfection that a woman has is unacceptable is quite insulting.

  7. The freckles comment is from this ad – look at the comment for the “decolletage”. So ridiculous!

  8. Well I’m not surprised. Freckles are always cute, I think they’re especially cute on men. Then again, I also had a crush on Carrot Top at one time, so…lol.

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