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November 10, 2011

I’m the Scared Woman Who Saw the Awful Ashley Madison Ad on the Floor of the Subway
by WomenInComedy - 0

By WICF Performer Mindy Raf 

Reposted from Mindy's tumblr. 

This Ashley Madison ad on the back of a New York Metro greeted me this morning on the train.

Sorry it’s a crappy picture. The slogan reads, “Life is Short. Have an Affair.” I’m sure there’s a better version of this on Whe web somewhere. In fact I went looking for one and found this Jezebel article, "I’m The ‘Scary’ Model In That Awful Ashley Madison Ad." 

The message, “look airbrushed/have ribs removed to earn/keep man,” “you’re only worth your weight,” isn’t a new one. I see it all the time and I don’t snap pictures, or look up the company, or feel so dirty after. So why did I find this one especially disgusting?

Maybe it was what the "scary" model, Jacqueline, said about “female body shaming” and knowing that “this sort of behavior [eating disorders] can easily be triggered from the careless cruelty of advertisements like the one in question.”

Maybe it was the check boxes, itemizing women like some product to be thrown out.

Maybe it was the asinine, hacky, cringe worthy slogan, “Life is short. Have an affair,” the uninspired fat vs. skinny, ugly vs. hot angle.

Maybe it was because the ad wasn’t just the message; it was a blatant, literal call to action of that message.

Maybe it was because it took me back to my fourteen year old self crossing her arms over her stomach every time she sat down, putting her mom’s foundation on the sides of her underarms to look like the girls in the magazines who didn’t have any lines on their skin (no side boob creases at all!), and my mother telling me over and over again I was beautiful and me thinking, “Yeah, but not perfect.”
I guess it was all those things. And I guess it’s always going to be a struggle, as a woman, to feel like a whole person and not some flat image next to a check box. In time, though, I was able to see myself the way my mother saw me, beautiful because of so many things not having to do with the size of my body or how flawless my skin looked over it.

I hope the young girls who see ads like this can too, someday.

Mindy Raf. Photo credit: Anya Garrett.
Mindy Raf is a writer, comedienne, and musician based in Brooklyn, New York. She has written for CollegeHumor, VH1, TNT's "Embrace Your Grace," The Daily Comedy Network, and was a contributor to the My Parents Were Awesome anthology. Mindy is also a soon-to-be-published novelist with Dial Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin. She was nominated for an ECNY award as "Best Musical Comedy Act" as her popular alter-ego Leibya Rogers, and recently released a full length vinyl comedy album, "LeibyaFair Live!" Mindy was thrilled to be a part of the 2011 Women in Comedy Festival, SketchFestNYC, and the Bridgetown Comedy Festival where she was named a “stellar surprise” by The Portland Mercury. She currently writes/records new songs weekly with her Web project Mindy's Music Mondays.

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