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On the surface, the woman in this ad is a typical model. Young and nubile, her white-blond hair falling messily into her eyes as her hands tug suggestively at her shirt.
This particular image is at almost every tram stop around Amsterdam. It is for mega Dutch retailer Hema and advertises a bra of the extreme pushup variety, unseen in the ad but obviously doing its job, as the beautiful young model is a man and he is quite smooth and seamless indeed. Twenty-year-old Bosnian model Andrej Pejic has already started to do work for top designers like Marc Jacobs but the Dutch Hema campaign is what will make him a household name in years to come, as the story of the boy who sells bras has already gone viral, giving Holland’s equivalent of Target an edgy boost.
Pejic was voted by the readers of the lad mag FHM as one of the world's sexiest women before the magazine realized he was a man and yanked his title, but not before causing a commotion with their comment "pass the sick bucket." Pejic was also involved in a small controversy in the US earlier this year when Barnes & Noble censored a cover of the magazine Dossier where Pejic appeared shirtless.
Though it’s a cheeky way to generate a ton of buzz for Hema, in a way, once you find out their secret, the campaign is almost the opposite of advertising, like something dreamed up by Adbusters to show us how incredibly distorted commercial images of women's bodies actually are.
Ridiculous and misleading images are almost inherent to advertising for things like a bras; we're sold completely false images of women in their knickers every day. But in this case, you can buy this bra in an attempt to be the sexiest woman in the world, but you’ll be missing one key element, and it won’t be the knockers to fill it. I stopped by my local Hema with the idea I would try one on and report back to you with my findings. I found the bra in question -- already on discount. It is a puffy monstrosity, as it would have to be to make a man go from zero to Gisele without Photoshop enhancement (as the company claims).
I’m not usually into a lot of lift, and I suspected correctly that this one had a ton of it. It was simlar to the ones I've found on the rare occasion I’ve ventured into a Victoria’s Secret and been confounded by bras so packed with padding that both the outside and inside pop out at you, the idea being I suppose that your boobs would have no place to go but up.
I chose a flashy pink one in my size and wandered the periphery of the store looking for a fitting room. After accidentally wandering too close to a storage space, I was huffily told by an employee that there are no dressing rooms at the Hema. Not willing to buy the thing for the sake of this post, we will have to imagine that my normal boobs in combination with the extra lift would have made my chest look less natural than the boy's in the adverts. What do you think? Is it progressive or anxiety-inducing to have men modeling bras?