Firing back

A girl's best friend is her yogurt
By CAITLIN E. CURRAN  |  March 26, 2009


VIDEO: "Target Women: Yogurt Edition"

"Yogurt is the official food of women." Or so enthuses TV writer Sarah Haskins in her sarcastic three-minute video "Target Women: Yogurt Edition," which aired this past May on Current TV, the largely Internet-driven independent cable network founded by Al Gore.

"Just turn on your TV," continues Haskins, a pretty 29 year old with an unfussed blond ponytail and an oblong face. "Day and night — but mostly day, unless you're watching Lifetime — there's gonna be some ladies just chilling out, eating some yogurt, and appealing to our inner woman, to get us to do it too." She then bombards viewers with clips from yogurt commercials — which she points out are targeted at women of every race, but specifically ones who wear gray-hooded sweatshirts ("It's that 'I have a master's but then I got married' look") and are on diets. We see women likening the experience of eating yogurt to getting a long massage, gushing over unlikely flavors such as apple turnover, and Jamie Lee Curtis advocating the power of certain yogurts to regulate digestion.

"Yogurt," Haskins concludes. "What else could a woman possibly need?"

The video quickly gained approval from feminist-leaning blogs like Jezebel and Feministing, who praised its humor and spot-on point: advertisements aimed at women advance out-of-touch female stereotypes. And yogurt companies aren't alone. Haskins has expanded her concept to a weekly "Target: Women" segment, in which she's skewered commercials for birth control, cleaning products, and chocolate, and taken shots at chick flicks.

On Saturday, March 28, Haskins will speak about the history of advertising to women, as part of the Women, Action, and the Media conference, sponsored by the Cambridge-based Center for New Words.

The inspiration for the "Target: Women" project came from watching commercials and thinking, "Hey, these are dumb," says Haskins on the phone from Los Angeles, where she lives and works as a writer for Current TV.

"There have always been stereotypes about women, [most recently] the stereotypes have just been added to," she says. "For women, it's the expectation to be perfect at all times. Now it's not just about being the perfect mom or housewife, but a perfect working mom."

Haskins has recently broadened the series subject matter beyond advertisements. She covered entertainment-news programming's obsession with Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston at the Oscars, and the premiere of the cult teen-vampire drama Twilight. "I read one of the Twilight books afterward," she says. "It wasn't very well written, but I got why a teenage girl would like it."

Sarah Haskins will speak at MIT's Stata Center, 32 Vassar St, Cambridge, as part of the Women, Action, and the Media conference on March 28 at 8 pm. Free for conference attendees, $10 for others. Call 617.876.5310, or visit centerfornewwords.org.

  Topics: Lifestyle Features , Entertainment, Media, Television,  More more >
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