Christy Turlington's Calvin Klein Ads Don't Exactly Represent Grown Women


Christy Turlington is forty-four years old. Christy Turlington says her body is aging naturally: “I haven’t manipulated myself in any way.” But when Christy Turlington talks about her new Calvin Klein underwear ads being “good” for people to see “images of women,” Christy Turlington makes us pause for a moment.

Christy Turlington is not just a former supermodel — she founded the organization Every Mother Counts, “a campaign to end preventable deaths caused by pregnancy and childbirth around the world.” She also shot a documentary about at-risk pregnant women and maternal mortality. Christy Turlington’s heart is in the right place. Believe this. But here’s what Christy Turlington says in the January issue of Harper’s Bazaar UK about her new Calvin Klein underwear ads:

“At first, I thought, ‘Underwear? I don’t really want to do that at this point in time,'” she says. “But then I thought that it’s actually good for people to see images of women, not just young girls –- proper women who have diverse lives and demands.”

In theory, yes. Absolutely. But in reality? Her ads are stylized and Photoshopped so much that she looks like a poreless ageless droid-bot. Not a forty-four year old human woman.

At left, Christy Turlington at an event in November. At right, one of her new Calvin Klein underwear ads.

She is beautiful either way. There’s no doubt about that. But in the ad, all the tiny tell-tale signs of aging — smile lines, crinkles around the eyes, humanity — have been wiped away. This is obviously not Christy Turlington’s fault. And it’s amazing that she posed for this campaign 25 years after her original campaign with the brand. But what’s the point of hiring a 44-year-old to star in your campaign if you refuse to let her look like a 44-year-old?

Christy Turlington is correct, of course: It is good for people to see huge, gorgeous, mass-marketed images of grown women and not just young girls. But that’s obviously not the business Calvin Klein is in.

Images via Calvin Klein and Getty.

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