Friday, January 8, 2010

German Lingerie Ad

Sexiness for everyone from Glow Berlin on Vimeo.

What are YOUR thoughts about this commercial by a German lingerie company?

Read about it: German Lingerie Ad Lifts the Veil on Muslim Women


  1. Wow!!!! Susie this is beautiful. I love it.

  2. Very sexy. I love it. Bring on the righteous indignation!!


  3. This is something that always seems to crop up; my husband's rugby team in Khobar had a team shirt with a rugby guy and women walking by who had on the niqab, but it's blown away so that you can see her legs with nylons and part of a garder belt... I seem to also remember seeing (or at least HEARING jokes) about 'what a women wears' under the niqab. Even Tash Ma Tash has kinda' done plays on 'what lies under' the veil... ;)
    I see groups protesting the comercial, but considering it seems to be a pretty common joke, I don't think it's something to make THAT big of a deal about and most people probably just enjoy the joke! :)

  4. On the one hand, I suspect (from what I have read about when Muslim women are in the privacy of their own homes) that this is absolutely realistic. My understanding is that Muslim women do like makeup and fine lingerie and nice clothes as much as the next woman but it's only on display at home. However, do Muslim men and clerics want this on tv, probably not. I'm very surprised that the lingerie company would take this chance.

  5. LOL, i think its funny and a change from linking Muslim women to oppressed meek creatures hiding under their Abayas. This make u look for what's not on the surface :-p

  6. Personally, I don't like it! I don't know of any practicing Muslim women who do not wear clothing under their outer garments (abaya, balto, etc.).
    How is this ad lifting the veil? By portraying her are partially naked under the her outer garments? Is that being liberated????

    Just the mere fact that she is partially naked is un-Islaamic in itself.

  7. datesandclementinesJan 8, 2010, 8:12:00 PM

    Hmmm. Thank you, Susie, for this thought-provoking post. So many aspects to the issues raised in the ad here.

    This ad highly sexualizes the woman, covered or not, and feeds both the Western and Eastern male fantasy.

    My first impression is that this ad feeds into the whole Orientalist fantasy begun in the colonial period and continuing in the West till today.

    My second impression is that the ad adds fuel to the Eastern male idea that a woman needs to be well=covered and thoroughly controlled so she does not create fitna/ chaos and disorder in society.

    While in my experience, as a woman in the East, getting made up and making an extra effort was completely the opposite of life in the West. In the Muslim world, the idea that the woman is only for her husband envelopes every aspect, whether she covers or not, so a woman should dress up for her man and downplay her beauty in public.
    In the West, women generally dress up to go out and loll around in flannel jammies at home:) There are exceptions of course.
    Again, this is my experience.

    There's also this idea in the West that because hijabs and niqabs and abayas vaguely resemble nun's habits, a woman erases her sexuality through her clothing. While a nun would vow to give herself to God, and the subtext would be to cease being a sexual creature, a Muslim woman uses her coverings to create distance w the outside world and keep her sexuality and beauty for her husband.

    Some would argue that a woman covers to prevent being viewed as a sexual object, as theoretically women are in the West.

    This ad is all about woman as a sexual creature.

    Who controls her body?

    Where is her source of power?

    Who does her power belong to?

  8. Very well said datesandclementines ! I am surprised though, especially if this has been shown in Saudi...seems very contradictory to the religious dictates to show this, at least as I think I understand ...

  9. On it's surface, this is a marketing ploy, nothing more or less. Beyond that, being a non-Muslim, I will not comment. I'll leave it to those more familiar with the culture to pass judgment and comment.

  10. Wow! I think the ad is beautiful but not sure we would run an ad like that here in the USA. And I'm not sure what the message is either. The world is so full of contradictions that it becomes confusing at times.

  11. I haven't seen this ad run here in KSA and I doubt that it would be shown. However we have satellite TV which is mainly from other Middle Eastern countries and I was rather surprised late last night when Kenneth Copeland came on for a full length religious (Christian) program, so you never know what one can expect!

  12. As a former advertising and marketing guy I look at the ad from several perspectives. However my only objection would be that it seems to imply that a Muslim woman just sort of slaps on her abaya over her unmentionables and is ready to go, "feeling sexy underneath." I don't think there's any question that we're all naked under our clothes (except for certain relatives of mine) but that bit of dramatic license rather spoiled it for me. We all know that the Budweiser Clydesdales aren't really playing football but that sort of fact-fudging probably only works in something meants as broad comedy (truly no pun intended).

  13. As someone said above, it's a marketing ploy, and yes, I agree that it feeds the Orientalist fantasy (okay, a whole range of fantasies, maybe....) I feel that we're right back to the "western" interpretation of the world as black/white, or in this case, Madonna/whore. Not all cultures in the world are constructed in this binary way... just thinking out loud here....

    A few things I did like about the commercial -- the fact that the woman had a very natural-looking body. The longer I am away from the States, the more disturbed I am by the body dysmorphia going on over there in the media, where so many body types appear to be artificially constructed and very much the same. The other thing I liked was the close-up on the door handle/lock/keyhole. There's clearly some symbolism at play there!

  14. I think esthetically and as a marketing tool it is remarkable. Ethically it is more dubious. It reminds me of some totally brilliant and beautiful French ads which were nonetheless racist or played on and into racist sentiments in the culture: portraying African models as jungle animals; or advertising socks by a row of feet in brilliantly coloured socks, which were in fact (in the poster) the feet of Muslim men prostrated in prayer, all in white outer garments setting off the coloured socks.

  15. I appreciate the idea that women should sexually distance themselves from the public and save their "naughtiness" for their husbands. I subscribe to that "moral value" myself.

    However, I disagree with the sentiment that this ad renders women powerless. Women also appreciate beautiful feminine curves, especially if it is theirs. Sure, women view themselves (ourselves) as sexual creatures. Why not? Aren't we? We're humans and that's part of our nature. What's wrong with a woman feeling good about herself? Why should we always look at the display of women sexuality through men's lenses?

    From my perspective, I think this ad does a good job illustrating the power women have over their own sexuality, especially those who are forced by society to hide behind shapless clothes. The woman in the ad, for example, doesn't feel the need to expose herself to the public to feel good about her body. She knows she looks good. Even when she has to go out covered, she does so with some sense of personal triumph.

    Besides, why readily assume that a woman who chooses to wear only lingerie under her niqab will go out with a sinful purpose? We, women, are also allowed to enjoy the beauty of their own bodies. To believe that our bodies are only for men (husbands) to enjoy is to deny ourselves our own sexual powers.

  16. I haven't seen that on TV or anywhere here in Germany but I thinks it's fun! Should be watch with a winking eye.
    However, I'd be worried that it would be considered provocative and offensive against the Muslim community and Germany is soo concerned these days not to offend anybody (in contrast to Switzerland with it's minaret law for example).

  17. But it doesn't SAY it's shown in Saudi... it says it's a GERMAN commercial. And in Germany... as well as ANYwhere, let's face it, this is a verrrrrrrry provocative ad! I would think that Muslim's would be incensed by it... I myself find it over the top... but I don't watch television at all, and I am astonished by MUCH of what is allowed to air these days! I'm also a bit of a prude - and proud of it!

  18. Well, I was told once (by a Muslim woman) that I could go out w/out anything underneath an abaya I was buying... So not happening esp since its rather see through lol. It did make me laugh though, esp seeing my ex boyfriends reaction.

    Beyond that, as a non-Muslim in the US... I don't like the ad. I don't think the issue is really what does a woman wear underneath her clothes, just the fact that they're using the female body like that. Yes we all may want to feel sexy and empowered but you don't have to show your goods to the general public to do that. It sends some messages I'm not comfortable with...esp since having a daughter.

  19. I find this racist.

    If an Advertisement which remotely attempts to stereotype other minorities, blacks, or even homosexuals it usually gets pulled out like this KFC advert from Australia. But i see a different yard stick being used here.

  20. Well said, Hannah, well said.

    You spoke for me.


  21. The honor of a Muslim woman is too high in the community. And the ad is a debasement of that.

    Consider this. What if the ad featured a Nun instead? How would that have been?

    That's how it is for the Muslims.

  22. This is an example of the western world projecting their sexuality on the eastern world. It is clever but ultimately reflects our lack of understanding beyond our culture.

  23. Why is it that women's liberation rarely goes beyond sexual liberation. This lingerie company is only concerned about woman being sexualized. We should not feel empowered by a company that profits from our sexuality. Once again women are not taken seriously beyond their sexuality. Woman are only noticed when they are sexy.

  24. I'm so glad that Arab women cover themselves because I don't need anymore competition:)

  25. Once, I took a "world religions" class. I remember the professor told us that Victoria's Secret is doing incredibly well in Muslim countries. We all expressed disbelief, and she explained the seeming paradox - Muslim women like lingerie just as much as any Western women, because they like to please their husbands. This is a very well-done ad.

  26. I think it's a 'different' advert, primarily because there's little or no advertising aimed specifically at underware for muslim women. I like it - very tongue in cheek & imaginative :-)

  27. Orientalist fantasy indeed. Edward Said is turning in his grave !

  28. If I were a Muslim woman who wore a niqab because it had meaning to me as a Muslim, I'd find it offensive.

    Same would be true if it were an ad showing what nuns, Amish Women, or Orthodox Jewish Women wear under their conservative clothing.

    Don't these women have enough to deal with without being exploited for some voyeuristic ad?

    Message I get from this ad is that all women, no matter how they dress, are sex objects to be used however we want to sell clothes.


  29. I must say as a male i really enjoyed watching the add...

    Women here are like presents you never know what you have got unless you open it ;) funny!

    I think women tend to do their best to express their own sexuality, coverd or not, west or east...

    I don't think it's a bad commercial at all, i think it's smart ^.^

  30. Thanks for sharing. Interesting!

  31. and if any body has noticed the youtube video title says "Naked Muslim Lady".

    I don't understand why this stereotypes of the lowest forms.

    And for those who said its not a bad commercial, well think about your sisters, mothers or daughters in those commercials, would you still enjoy it?

    I am sure decent people in all cultures (east or west) wouldn't allow their daughters or siblings to be part of such heinous stereotyping advertisement.

  32. Abu Abdullah...while I agree in theory with your "would you want your mother, sister or daughters" in that video...I disagree with that whole thought process...because while Muslim/Arab men will protect (control) their own females with a dedication next to none...they have no problem going after other Muslim/Arab (or nonmuslim nonarab) mens females.

    SO...thats a lousy excuse.

    I have no opinion about the video itself because I allow women to express themselves in whatever way they choose long as it doesnt harm me or mine.

  33. Seems to be THE MALE FANTASY of the East concerning women under the veil since the time of the Crusades. Isn't this what the Harem is all about? Women grooming themselves to be selected for one man's exclusive use. There's nothing original about this ad. However, the creator of the ad is well-versed in history & art history.

  34. A racy European underwear ad, that is designed to offend. This is news?? Not in my universe.

  35. @coolred
    The bottom line is it is racist.

    And 2 wrongs doesn't make 1 right.

    And i don't condone the freaks of nature who call themselves muslims or arabs, i guess i have made my stand clear else where...

    But i firmly stand against racism directed at any one and by any means.

  36. I haven't seen the ad and it's now been removed by the user (which makes me think there were a lot of complaints).

  37. I don't like ads like this in general. I'm more than a sex object, and I get a little tired of advertisers painting all women with the same brush.

    With that said, I'm more than a little surprised that with the current world political climate, the advertisers would choose to portray a Muslim woman that way.
    With all of the furor of extremists about certain Danish cartoons, it seems like an ad like this is inviting some looney to use it as an excuse to hurt someone else.

    Politics aside, a woman who covers voluntarily is doing so because of a deep religious conviction. Women who choose to cover, be they Muslim or Christian or anything else, consider their body to be private and for the eyes of their husband alone. This ad seems disrespectful of those values.

  38. Okay, I was very curious but it was pulled already but I tracked it down here:

  39. 'Women who choose to cover, be they Muslim or Christian or anything else, consider their body to be private and for the eyes of their husband alone'

    I fail to see how this statement has anything to do with this ad.

    This woman was not at all shown doing anything offensive or against her religion. There is nothing in Islam that tells women they are not allowed to wear sexy underwear. This woman was not out in public or anything so I really don't understand why anyone should be offended.

  40. @Abou Abdullah
    I don't see the AD it self as racist, but i might agre that who ever posted it, and added the the name to the AD as racist.

    don't mix the idea with the agenda to use that idea...

    I think the AD is pro-Muslim-Women as they are fashionable and dress to impress, with all what she do IN private she still wear what her duty and wear her abaya.

    thire are many videos on youtube and others that are racist, Muslim, Jews man there are many about mulim fighting between them selves.

    I hope you get the point i'm trying to make here.

    plus, you don't have to agree with everything that other Muslim or Arabs have to say, but I know one thing, it does not give you the right to label them and call them Freaks of nature, you might end up being one of them.


  41. 'Women who choose to cover, be they Muslim or Christian or anything else, consider their body to be private and for the eyes of their husband alone'

    'I fail to see how this statement has anything to do with this ad.'

    - I do...

    'This woman was not at all shown doing anything offensive or against her religion. There is nothing in Islam that tells women they are not allowed to wear sexy underwear.'

    - Completely agreed. Not Muslim here, but as someone who appreciates modesty I still think sexy underwear is nice. It makes you feel good. Husbands tend to like it too ;-)

    'This woman was not out in public or anything so I really don't understand why anyone should be offended.'

    - This is where I disagree... How is she not out in public? We are all seeing this. Even if it wasn't run on tv, it was posted on the internet where even more people could see it.

    I don't care if she's Muslim or not, I don't see it as being appropriate... We don't need to see that much of her. And even if she made the choice to bear herself like that in public (which I'm guessing was her choice, I don't see how it wouldn't be.. and it is one we all have, or should have, the right to make) it still smacks of women, and our bodies, being used.

    Switching from The Queen to Saudi Majix here lol.

    'I think the AD is pro-Muslim-Women as they are fashionable and dress to impress, with all what she do IN private she still wear what her duty and wear her abaya.'

    - back to the she was in public thing. We just have the illusion of privacy here. They could have done this in a more tasteful way. Like have her going through and picking out something to wear later while covered a little more tastefully. Laying it out on her bed along w/ her abaya maybe... Or have her out shopping for the stuff.

    Sorry for the way I'm responding here.. Didn't want to post 50 times lol. I see where yall are coming from, just saying I can see the other side here (and obviously disagree w/ the public/private part).

  42. I don't have anything to ad about the commercial, but am wondering (for curiosity's sake)...what DO women in the Middle East wear under their robes? I realize it's probably different in every country, as the outerwear varies considerably.


  43. Sophie - The answer to that is whatever they want to wear underneath.

  44. Advertisement agencies do not give out messages. They do not want to offend or propagate anything. Unless they are being paid to do so. The only object of an advertisement agency is to get as much attention for the product. This ad seems very succesful in that respect it is talked over everywhere on the web!
    Object, (the only object), achieved!

    Agent Provocateur is big here! You won´t believe the sexy underwear and clothes in the shops. This ladies underwear is positively demure!!!!

    And what do you think is a woman to wear underneath a black sweltering tent in the sweltering heat? It's an unnatural custom.
    I like a small (!) surprise for my husband every now and then. >)

  45. Ok,I see. Those of you that find this offensive do not find it offensive because she was a Muslim woman but because she was a woman uncovered(by YOUR standards)for our public viewing. So you are just as offended by any other underwear ads then? Or movies that show any nakedness by your standards?

  46. The Queen -

    Honestly mixed feelings. Not surprising considering I bounce back and forth on how modest I am myself. Gaining modesty here, a lot more so than I was as a teen and in college.. but I haven't quite found my niche if that makes sense.

    About the ads though...

    On one hand it is a huge help to see what it looks like on a person.

    On the other those ads are usually extremely public and the models are reinforcing the whole body image issues. Catalogs don't seem as bad about this (although they're used for porn by buys just as much as anything else so not saying there's no issue there either... but.. at some point you gotta put that on the guy and his self control) but the ones on tv, internet & billboards are ridiculous. Most of us do not look like that and I don't want my daughter growing up to think that she should... Or that its ok to have all her goods hanging out in public like that either.

    I guess how comfortable I am with it depends on how its done. I wouldn't want my body (or my kids) in the magazines standing there either... but when its made to look provocative it seems so much worse.. and when its pushed in everyone's faces it goes up another level.

    And I guess a double standard thing sets in here too... Because it does seem worse coming from someone who dresses modestly. Shock value I guess... Like if I saw an Amish woman start stripping.

  47. But this woman was not stripping or acting provocative in any way (there was no one else with her). She was simply getting herself ready to go out for the day and I am pretty sure that there is nothing in Islam that tells the women that they must wear 'granny panties' if they are to be modest.

    I do understand your concern about body image though. I have been very pleased with the recent ad campaigns and their inclusion of plus size models as well as the efforts of Jamie Lee Curtis with her untouched nude photo sessions. So I see that there IS hope on the 'body image' front.

  48. I get what your saying, and agree to a point.. it isn't like they show her in a strip club or anything like that.

    But... we are still all viewing her naked. We still see her get dressed. Just because the audience isn't seen in the video doesn't mean it doesn't exist. Grey area...

    I guess I'm just looking at this as if it was my daughter. I wouldn't prevent her from starring in something like this necessarily, but I would discourage it.

  49. Aggh. Missed something (sorry preggo brain) - the whole not provocative part... that really depends on how you look at it. My husband saw it and thought it was. Now, he wasn't complaining.. He liked the ad. But from the comments that were made, he definitely thought it was lol

  50. Dear Mam Kalila,
    thanks for taking the time to respond to my post,
    I do agree with you in regards of concept of the AD discretion could be met as shopping woman ^.^

    but the AD is for mass to all type of women.

    thank you again


  51. I have a slightly different take on this. This was a German ad presumably shown in Germany...I think what they are saying is that if a woman in a county like KSA where she has to be totally covered can wear this lingerie and NO ONE other than herself and her husband knows it, she is buying it for herself to make heself happy. I think it is a very powerful ad in contrasts that actually speaks to the power the woman has over her own body even when she has no power over her outerwear. She is dressing for HERSELF which I think inherently makes her powerful...she is not looking for outward approval.

  52. You know what's amazing? All the different responses to this ad! It's interesting to read through all sorts of opinions...

    I don't think the ad was intended to offend anyone. However, the element of surprise and shock is definitely there. The message of the ad is true... sexiness is for everyone. I think it's a really good ad because it's thought provoking. However, I can understand if some Muslim women would be feeling a bit uncomfortable if men started to imagine what they were wearing underneath her abaya / niqab after watching this ad.

  53. Hi,
    I think I like this Ad and I don't see it offensive in anyway.

    a Saudi in USA

  54. Yousef, nice to hear the opinion of a Saudi guy!

    Although I'm not quite sure if you should have watched it!!!!! ;)

  55. On a related topic, I just did a post in support of the Saudi campaign led by Reem Assad to boycott male lingerie salespersons in Saudi. Your pic of the panty pusher from your photoblog is used and your aversion to men selling ladies underthings is summarized. I hope the campaign is successful

  56. As a male American I can say that if this ad was displayed on a channel that only Women were able to watch it would be fine. However, men are visually sexual creatures. I help men all the time recover from pornography addictions and teach them how to control their eyes and mind, and every time they do and follow through their relationship with their wife is better in every aspect from sexual to emotional to spiritual.

    The question is not if it is offensive. The question is, does viewing another women in a sexual provocative way glorify God and the spouse that he has brought to you?

  57. This is an interesting attempt by German lingerie marketing professionals to embrace/reach out to the growing Muslim community in Europe, specifically the female Muslim community. I think this is a good thing.

    I don't think too much should be read into it. If you don't like the commercial, don't purchase the product.

    Free speech is a universal human right & I believe this German company has the right to ran any sort of advertisement they want.

    I am a fan of this advertisement. I think this ad has a lot less to do with any one person's religion, as it seems to be more about sexuality & the female form and one can beautifully accessorize it.

  58. This is an interesting attempt by German lingerie marketing professionals to embrace/reach out to the growing Muslim community in Europe, specifically the female Muslim community. I think this is a good thing.

    I don't think too much should be read into it. If you don't like the commercial, don't purchase the product.

    Free speech is a universal human right & I believe this German company has the right to ran any sort of advertisement they want.

    I am a fan of this advertisement. I think this ad has a lot less to do with any one person's religion, as it seems to be more about sexuality & the female form and one can beautifully accessorize it.

  59. Umar you're so right - this ad would work with a Nun too! Do you work in Marketing?

    A common feature of all religions is the desire of the authorities to exercise control over access to young women.

    Sex has been a key to successful marketing for millennia...

    And I think a lot of the the comments speak more to the commenters' views on their own attitudes towards sexuality. As with all art, one's reaction is more about oneself than the objective work.

  60. I think what's being missed here about this ad, is that a woman is being filmed in the ad wearing only underwear, and is purportedly from a society where she cannot walk outside without being fully covered. Would it not have been an egregious sin for the woman to have been involved in the actual filming of this ad in this society??? So just by virtue of the act of filming this ad, this woman could be held accountable by her society...

    In the western world, the ad is not offensive, it's actually quite tastefully done, but had she filmed this ad in the society that is being depicted, she could be held accountable for the mere act of the filming. The contradiction of the act of filming the ad is what the "offense" is all about.

    Who is the ad targeting? As a western woman, I would be put off when she donned her outer garments and not inclined to purchase the items. If I were a true believing middle eastern woman, I would be offended by the act of the filming of the ad. And heaven help the model in the ad if she were to actually be a member of the society that she is depicting as she would be in jeopardy.

    It is an interesting social statement, as demonstrated by the numerous comments on your blog, well after the actual posting.

  61. The Chieftess--interesting analysis. I am assuming the ad targetted buyers in Germany and was designed for esthetics and memorability. The "plot twist" takes all by surprise and could be flattering to all: that Muslimahs are attractive and sexy but veil appropriately in public, and that Germans have a sense of humour.

  62. well actually it doesnt make sense to wear only underwear under ur abaya bec u might take it out as soon as ur back home or in a place meeting with family at their house.
    For that i think where is that woman actually going ...... well maybe I think to much ..... maybe its simply a video mad efor man not married to an muslim woman... nevermind salam