In case you didn’t know (I didn’t) Ashley Madison is a dating site for married people who want to have an affair. Personally, I think infidelity makes for bad karma – if I guy cheats on his wife with me, I wouldn’t expect him to be faithful to me. But that’s just me, not my job to worry about what other folks do.
The problem I have with Ashley Madison is a series of Internet ads they have put out that clearly says they think fat women are not sexy or attractive.
One ad shows a picture of a thin model and a fat model (both wearing similar lingerie) with a check mark next to the thin model and an “x” next to the fat one, and Ashley Madison’s motto, “Life is Short. Have an Affair.” Another ad shows the same fat model with the text, “Did your wife scare you last night?”
Am I surprised that this type of company would have sexist, body-shaming ads? No. I am however heartened to see that Ashley Madison is getting a lot of negative press about the ads. I am also happy to see CEO Noel Biderman showing just how much of an ass-hat he is in his attempts to defend the ads.
The fat model (called Jacqueline) in the ads has her own website for people who like to look at sexy fat women. Biderman refers to it as a porn site. I haven’t looked, I don’t care. What this lady does with her own images is not the issue. In fact, given his line of business, seems to me Biderman has a lot of nerve casting stones at anyone.
Biderman claims he didn’t choose the photos because Jacqueline is fat, “It was a statement about finding you are in a relationship with someone who is unrecognizable.”
He also says, “I don’t think it’s a jab at fat people. … For many people, a [spouse] is less attractive because they don’t pay attention to their body type.”
Really? Really? Come on, how stupid do you think we are?
Biderman is also unhappy about the fuss that Jacqueline is raising. He says that Ashley Madison purchased the photos legally from the photographer.
Jacqueline says she was under the impression that the people purchasing the photos would be doing so for their own personal use. Biderman he says, “No one does this for personal use. [showing, again, that he doesn’t believe anyone would find images of a fat woman as sexy] They try to make money off the image.” What Biderman doesn’t understand is that Jacqueline does use the images to make money – she knows that men (and women) will pay for her image because they find her beautiful and sexy. However, money is not her sole objective.
Jacqueline is angry because her images are being used for two things she is very much against – cheating and body shame. She finds the campaign mean-spirited and damaging to the self-worth of all women, especially in a society riddled with eating disorders and bullying.
Wouldn’t Biderman be surprised to learn that fat women are sometimes the “other woman” when a closeted FA (fat admirer) marries a thinner woman but has a fat woman for a mistress because that is what he/she really likes?
All in all, this ad is representative of how fat discrimination is still acceptable. Can you imagine if either image was of a person of color? (I’m not going into an argument that racial bigotry is on par with fat discrimination – that’s way too complicated of an issue for me to try to get into – I’m saying that if you substitute a racial preference instead of a size preference, the bigotry in this ad becomes clearer – just in case you had any doubt.)
So Mr. Biderman you are not fooling anyone.
We all understand what you are really saying in your ads; at least have the balls to own it.