The most important thing for girls is how attractive they are

I’ve been having an angsty week and that’s where this comes from. I’d still think the same things if I weren’t so angsty, just probably not as angrily.

The FDA anti-smoking campaign pisses me off. Not the anti-smoking part, obviously. Its implicit message is what gets to me. My opinion on the matter is based on the several examples in articles I read this morning about the new ads they have created. I don’t doubt there are more than just the two, but I think it’s significant that these are the ads being featured – whether that is because they are the ones FDA has put out as examples, or the ones news media has latched on to, I don’t know.

The ads feature young, attractive girls who are given old-lady wrinkles, because smoking makes you age prematurely.

And we all know that old people are ugly. Especially if they are female.

And we all know that it is healthy and morally right to tell young girls that their worth lies in how attractive they are to men.

Yep.

Good work FDA.

And by the way, these kinds of ads don’t work. We’ve been through this before with the “this is your brain on drugs” fried egg commercials. If your goal is to get young people to stop smoking, you have badly misjudged motivations for smoking and the way the human brain works (and the multiplicity of causes of premature aging in your target group, poor teens). If your goal is to help teens who are already addicted, you have badly misjudged addiction (especially sad after the news of Phillip Seymour Hoffman’s death this weekend).

However, if your goal is to reinforce basing the value of women on how pleasing they are (look) to men, then congratulations. You’ve just spent $115 million (or at least a portion of it) making sure teen girls know what really matters in life.

The patriarchy thanks you.

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