Sunday, March 15, 2009

I Wanna Be On Top: High Fashion, "Low Prices," Bad Taste

This cycle Tyra did not want to wait the usual two or three episodes to make over her edge-less contestants. We could barely settle into Wednesday's episode of America's Next Top Model before we were smacked in the face with a spy theme that was right out of Cheesetown USA. Tyra had totally confidential ("for fierce eyes only") new looks for all the girls, but her fake-a-roo trench coat and fedora coupled with bad Charlie's Angels style video-phone editing made the whole thing look like a big trying-too-hard-for ratings fiasco. Are girls crying at getting their hair cut no longer gimmicky enough to rope in viewers? Well if sheering girls til they sob won't do it, and Tyra's bad Carmen Sandiego impression isn't cutting it either, perhaps Wal-Mart could give a go of it.

Yep, nothing screams high fashion like Wal-Mart, that's why this week's challenge was centered around the Covergirl Wal-Mart Wall. Manufactured in an empty room because there are no Wal-Marts in NYC, some one-named make-up artist stands in front of the wall and chokes out some forced line like this, "At Wal-mart anyone can confidently personalize their own look for less." Leaving out that Wal-Mart has this "unique" ability because they don't give their worker's raises and make them work off the clock. That Covergirl wall is oh-so-affordable because their non-management workers are living thousands of dollars below the US poverty level (according to Wake-Up Wal-Mart and Wal-Mart Watch). This is a problem that could be easily fixed by raising the prices on every product half a penny.

And speaking of non-management workers, the majority of them are women! Even though they make up 72 % of Wal-Mart's total workforce, only 33 % of women get to move out from behind the cashier and become management. So glamorous! It's a good thing that Covergirl is so damn cheap because at a whopping $8.23 an hour (that's $13,861 annually folks!) the ladies of Wal-Mart aren't going to see the inside of a Sephora anytime soon. Even those lucky 33% who win a coveted upper management job are still only getting a consolation prize, according to the United Food and Commericial Workers (UFCW) "women in management positions earn nearly $5,000 per year less than men."

The girls squealed and nodded with excitement as the challengers blathered on about Wal-Mart's greatness. For all of the fits the contestants rountinely have about nothing, you'd think one or two of them could speak up about how awful (and très unfashionable) Wal-mart is. Not even the street preacher made a peep. I'm always curious how much this is the producers forcing them to go along (since Wal-Mart is clearly a sponser) or if the contestants would rather rally against a haircut than a jerky corporation. But really, it's the show's responsibility to not cater to such an unethical company. Tyra's crusade for women looks pretty shoddy if she's supporting a company that routinely holds women back. You wanna be on top? Standing on the backs of other women is not the way to get there.

Check out Tyra's Go Go Gadget Editing:

Getting pumped about Wal-Mart:

Related Story: I Wanna Be On Top: Use Your Inner Goddess to Preserve the Purity of Young Girls

1 comment:

emrez said...

It amazes me how little people actually know about the truly abhorrent practices at Wal-mart. You gave so many good examples that point out how they hold women back. I'd even add the fact that, when a Wal-mart moves in, it often drives out or forces smaller businesses to close because Wal-mart can sell things for cheaper, causing the loss of jobs (or family-owned businesses). Thus, in many rural areas or places where folks depend on public transportation, leaving Wal-mart as the only place for people to shop. So it's completely understandable that some people shop there out of necessity, but when someone like Tyra, who is in a place of relative influence, places Wal-mart at the center, we hurt women.