May 10 2011

Spinster aunt mocks media

No time to post! It’s Guffaw At Media Day!

1. Here is an excerpt from the May 2011 issue of American Vogue magazine; a Paris fashion designer is using African, rather than Chinese, labor to manufacture her line.

“Too often we think of Africa as a victimized, depressing place, so I’m trying to show the brighter side I knew as a child,” the now Paris-based Eklund says before citing oft-ignored but breathtaking beaches in Zanzibar, Dakar, and Casablanca. “[Eklund’s swimwear line] Bantu is about celebrating the beauty of Africa — and what better way to do that than with exuberantly colorful bikinis?”

Not only is Paris-based bikinician Eklund celebrating the beauty of Africa by objectifying women, the model she objectifies also imbues “style” with “ethics”: “I donated an entire season’s earnings to children with cancer in São Paolo!” Is there anything a spray-tanned young hottie in a bikini can’t do?

2. Grudgingly transcribed by my assistant Phil, here’s a TV commercial selling domestic supplies to women. It features the tried and true Dudely Authority Figure managing female test subjects.

Male Announcer: We went around the country asking women to speak frankly about something no one wants to talk about.

Woman 1: It’s time to get real about what happens in the bathroom.

Woman 2: Stop all the cutesy stuff.

Woman 3: And start talking about what you really want from your toilet paper.

Woman 4: It’s time to talk about clean.

Woman 3: Feeling clean is soooo important.

Male Announcer: Quilted Northern Soft-n-Strong is stronger than the leading ripple brand to help protect against breakthrough.

Woman 4: For myself, for my family, it keeps us clean. Quilted Northern Soft-n-Strong.

Male Announcer: Protection for a confident clean or your money back.

What a relief. I’ve been so sick of all the cutesy conversations I’ve been having about what happens in the bathroom.

Stingray: So what happens in your bathroom?

Jill: Unicorns gerbils baby chicks Hello Kitty.

Stingray: Lollipops Justin Bieber?

Jill: And a bunch of chihuahua puppies!

But all I’ve really wanted to do is get real about what I want from my toilet paper. I mean, omigod, can we please start talking about actually wiping the shit off our ass and what to do about breakthrough, already?

Well, yes and no. These courageous, straight-talkin’ toilet paper conversationalists somehow omit the key words “feces” and “cornhole,” but nevertheless give me strength to confront my deepest yearnings for a truly immaculate ass, with a toilet paper that offers protection for my confidence. And there’s a money-back guarantee, which certainly must mean that if I get shit on my hand, they’ll refund my dough. Simply mail the shit-stained hand to Quilted Northern with proof-of-purchase seals, and they’ll refund my $2.98 in 6-to-8 weeks.

Tragically, I am doomed to suffer confidence-busting “breakthrough” forever, as Quilted Northern Safe-n-Strong is not septic-safe.

Photo: Scan of “Style Ethics.” Vogue May 2011: 180.


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  1. Gwytherinn

    But hey, for the sake of showing “the brighter side” let’s forget that the majority of Africans are unable to enjoy those beaches and they’re probably gated enclaves for the rich and privileged….

  2. allhellsloose

    Don’t you need a little breakthrough? It helps maintain a healthy balance of the friendly bacteria in the general area. Make it toooooo clean and you dry everything out and introduce infection – which leads to more smells. See, that didn’t hurt I can do cutsey – drat I put in the word smell. Please lay off the talc.

    No wonder OCD abounds. No wonder we women hate our bodies.

  3. Rachel

    Hey now, it’s true that I have been known to suffer mild reductions in confidence when my hands are covered in poop. I do think it makes my handshakes more memorable though, so there’s that.

  4. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    For those who are terrified of breakthrough, wipe your keester with one a them Sobakawa pillows they’re selling on the other channel.

  5. pheenobarbidoll

    Stingray: So what happens in your bathroom?

    Jill: Unicorns gerbils baby chicks Hello Kitty.

    Stingray: Lollipops Justin Bieber?

    Jill: And a bunch of chihuahua puppies!


  6. Triste

    Christ, you wash the fucking hands afterwards anyway, who caaaaaaaaaares.

    On the subject of African bikinis (haw), it is sometimes legitimately amazing to me the extent to which advertisers are forgiven for racial exploitation that, it seems to me, wouldn’t be tolerated in any respectable workplace even within our shitty racist society. Slapping a random design on some white girl’s tits and calling it African? Why not just wrap yourself in a tie-dye bedsheet and harass the next black person you see by making monkey noises, you racist shits.

    African, honestly. But you see this nonsense everywhere. I was just a few days ago eating a bag of corn chips (advertised as CRUJIENTE) and when I looked on the back I noticed a blurb telling me that these chips were so fucking authentic that they would make me feel like putting on a sombrero. Holy fucking shit! These chips are racist as hell. But you know, I suppose the almighty advertiser needs to be allowed to engage in such behaviors. Else they might abandon us to shitty ignorance and darkness, Atlas Shrugged style. And then how would we survive?

  7. speedbudget

    Dear Quilted Northern purveyors:

    I do regret to inform you that the last time I retired to the powder room for which to perform certain unmentionable acts, it did transpire that I got a blot of shit upon my hand.

    Here is a picture of said blot, along with the offending cornhole.

    Please to remit my refund posthaste.

    Scatologically Yours,


  8. Comrade Svilova

    It’s so important to be clean!!

    Methinks Quilted Northern doesn’t go far enough. Will.i.am knows that what women really need is baby wipes by the toilet. But no condoms, because that’s just slutty.

  9. Ottawa Gardener

    I’ll just start with the laughter. Now that I am done that I agree with the baby wipes for real clean though for some reason I object to the pads that come with their own wipe. It could be because I prefer other methods of menstrual collection – cup – which brings me to generally the only subject that I have been known to have relating to the bathroom. The other wastes that exit my body are too everyday for comment.

    Skinny blonde girls wearing something ‘exotic’ = same old, same old.

  10. Ottawa Gardener

    – edit, known to have talked about – forgive me.

  11. Yardshark

    Get ready for more of this. For years it’s been clear that Africa will be the new Chinindia as those places begin to price us out of the exploitative labor market. And exploitative labor buyers will pose as oh so magnanimous for it. Nope…it’s just another “follow the money.”

    And screw the fluffy linty overpriced asspaper sellers whose crappy product is more air than product. Even Scott has cheated us with smaller rolls and thinner squares. Costco still has decent non-fluffy stuff for now.

  12. Jezebella

    Triste, that’s not a “random design”. It does have origins in African textiles. Neither the bikini nor the model are African, but let’s not erase the African origins of design elements that Euro/Western designers have been appropriating for decades.

  13. Lovepug

    Eklund’s quote is straight out of Absolutely Fabulous.

    “Kind to trees sweetie!”

  14. Owly

    Isn’t Quilted Northern one of those fancy, expensive TPs that leaves weird fuzzy clumps in possibly the worst place on your body to have weird fuzzy clumps? Not a fan.

    Also, that magazine photo is absolutely begging to be featured on Photoshop Disasters. I’d even say it’s Victoria’s Secret quality.

    Ottawa Gardener, I second the cup. I resisted trying one for so long because I am naturally suspicious of any product that uses the word “diva.”(I only knew of the DivaCup at the time)

  15. Someone Else

    Woman 3: And start talking about what you really want from your toilet paper.

    I like the implication that women have little else to do besides sit around pondering the qualities of toilet paper, to the extent that they can become quite animated about the subject. These women feel so *strongly* about this critical (although not very clearly defined) toilet paper issue.

    I now feel like toilet paper Amish*, I was so ignorant of this issue/solutions provided by Nice People At Proctor&Gamble.

    *thank you, Sarah Haskins, for adding this wonderful phrase to my life!

  16. Jill

    Out here at El Rancho Deluxe, toilet paper doesn’t warrant too much ponderance. We have to buy the cheepest el cheepo for the septic system. It is oddly rough and diaphanous at the same time, but I don’t give it much thought because it’s fucking toilet paper for chrissake. Until I had occasion to meld the Twisty kiester with some Charmin or whatever at my sibling Tidy’s house. “Holy shit!” I yoiked. “What the fuck is this stuff, silk powder puffs made with with eiderdown and ermine by octegenarian Belgian nuns?” I can’t remember if there was breakthrough, but there probably was, as my butt is powerful more powerful than you can ever imagine.

  17. Comrade PhysioProf

    If you’re using just one motherfucken sheet and thereby risking “breakthrough”, you’ve got bigger fucken issues than your choice of terlet papier!

  18. Lidon

    HA! I love you guys. Next time I’m cleansing my anus, I’ll be doing it with a smile.

  19. Jill

    Can you spare a square?

  20. mearl

    Where DOES a girl find time to talk about the level of personal security we derive from our toilet paper? Usually all my lady friends and I are too busy discussing the pro-biotic nature of our DIET yogurt; our daily fibre intake; how to know we’re pregnant the MOMENT it happens; how to clean that pesky soap scum off of our shower walls without using TEN different products; how to de-crust our 24-HOUR-CRUSTED-ON DISHES (AUGH!!!); how to get our whites whiter; how to release the goddess hiding within our hairy, spidery legs; how to please everyone in the family at dinnertime (with KFC, obviously); and what to do when our monthly NIGHTMARE shows up on white-bikini beach day.

    Wow. After that I’m just fucking exhausted. Time for a margarita.

  21. Jill

    “Next time I’m cleansing my anus, I’ll be doing it with a smile.”

    Now there’s some potential breakthrough I want to avoid!

  22. Eagle Eye

    Jill, I’m truly sorry for the inadequacy of this comment since I hardly ever chime in here, but I’m with pheenobarbidoll because this post made me laugh really loudly out loud. I laughed so hard my cat raised his head up off of his perch with his ears back, squinted, dismissed me, and put his head back down again.

    And I know I’m not supposed to have a cat but he illustrates my point.

  23. Shelby

    You’re a funny bugger.

  24. Nolabelfits

    Mearl is hilarious. Have you been missing around these parts?

  25. Triste

    My bad, Jezebella, I fear I misspoke. I didn’t mean to imply that the design itself was not lifted from actual African designs. Rather my point is more that there is no real African artistry involved in the making of the bikinis themselves – the African art (no doubt created with some specific purpose in mind beyond making white women look sexxxxxxy) is made, seen by some designer, lifted and applied to a thing completely unconnected and unrelated to the original piece of art/actual African culture/actual African people/etc.

    The selling point of this bikini is that it is ~African~ and therefore ~exotic~, but I would argue that it’s no more authentically African than a bikini with a print of Starry Night would be authentically Dutch. The design is lifted from African art, but that art lacks meaning and truth-n-beauty without the context of its creation, and nothing removes a piece of art from its context quite like slapping it on cheap swathes of sweatshop-produced swimwear to be consumed by people of a massively higher class than the ones who actually made the design in the first place.

  26. Jill

    Nice rant, Triste. Sadly I didn’t make it clear that the bikinis are in fact made in Africa. From the Vogue article:

    “Traditional wax-cloth prints — like this raspberry-and-tangerine bikini — are designed by local artisans in Côte d’Ivoire, while the cutting and sewing are done in Cameroon and South Africa. Such a system allows production to be highly specialized by country, bringing industry to some of the world’s neediest communities.”

    So technically I guess the textiles, at least, represent African artistry. I can’t at this time find information on where the fabric is actually loomed and whether the garments are sewn in African “sweat shops.” A January 2011 article at Papermag says Côte d’Ivoiriens are “consulted” on the designs.

    Further research does reveal that the swimsuits are sold at Barneys for $150-$180, putting this deliteful Western fashion out of the reach of most members of “the world’s neediest communities.” Although the Bantu line supposedly sponsors a surfing mentor program for underprivileged surfer kids. I wonder if they get to wear “exuberantly colored bikinis”?

  27. Vibrating_Liz

    Hey, I know: how about some authentic exotic African toilet paper, i.e., a bowl of water next to a long-drop.

  28. tinfoil hattie

    “‘What better way to do that than with exuberantly colorful bikinis?’”

    Indeed, what better way to do anything?

  29. Sarah

    “Feeling clean is soooo important.”

    It’s not really the being clean that’s important, it’s just feeling clean!

    Who are these jokers trying to target anyway? Are there actually people who can’t make any kind of toilet paper work for removing feces from their cornholios? Newspapers, used corn husks, someone’s embroidered guest towel, it’s all the same.

  30. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    According to a plumber friend, anything with “ultra” in the name is asking for terlet problems. And (true story) my siblings and I got in trouble for using more than two squares.

    Hey mearl, don’t forget huffing the living-room rug after spraying it with a fragrance that smells yuckier than the smell of what you’re trying to cover up.

  31. CLD

    Your choice of including Chihuahua puppies as cutsie fodder for the bathroom is well-founded. In fact, in our bathroom, the resident Chihuahua puppies EAT the toilet paper. I may have found that the puppies themselves would work well as protection for my confidence… were it not for the snarling and teeth.

  32. stacey

    There is just all sorts of wrong in this bikini thing. Time for a hazy textile history lesson, fellow readers.

    The motifs and designs on the bikini in the pic represent Dutch Wax Prints (aka waxed prints, Hollandaise, and others.) The Dutch, when they colonized Indonesia, would bring back local woven ikat and batik fabrics to Europe, where they were moderately popular. In the 1800’s, when machine-printing became the norm Holland (and also England) began copying the motifs and producing them at home, rather than add in the cost of a long voyage.

    It wasn’t necessary to use wax-resist methods any longer, but the fabrics continued to be walled wax prints.

    In theory, what the Dutch (and English) wanted to do was flood the Indonesian (and Indian) markets with cheap, European-produced printed cottons. With industrialization of fabric production exploding, they could churn out mountains of fabric, compared to the hand-woven domestic textiles of sub-Asia.

    However, the Indonesians thought the Dutch-printed goods were ASS UGLY. So the Dutch tried off-loading them at African ports on the way home to Europe, and the fabrics sold like hotcakes. And why not? They were cheap; they were soft and durable, and they came in bright colours (the “new” aniline dyes of the time). African textiles had heretofore been mostly produced by hand, and dyed with local ingredients, and there’s only so many colours of mud.

    Dutch wax prints became prestige fabrics, originally worn only by wealthy Africans. European printers started to incorporate tribal or regional motifs into the designs, making them even more wildly popular. Eventually China sidled into the market, producing even cheaper fabrics, and they continue to be popular and prominent in African fashion.

    There’s some debate about the authenticity of Dutch wax prints. The original Holland-produced wax-resist prints? Holland-made machine-printed yardages with Indonesian motifs? Subsequent ones with tribal motifs? African-designed motifs? etc etc.

    There’s an amazing artist, Yinka Shonibare (http://www.yinkashonibarembe.com/) who plays with this cloth and with the questions of African identity. Born in London, raised in Nigeria, using Dutch wax cloth, bought at Brixton market!

  33. Jill

    Stacey, many thanks for the short course in Dutch textile history.

    I remember I made a “batik” print in grammar school, using melted crayons and Rit dye. I turned it into a throw pillow, though, not a thong.

  34. nails

    Anyone remember that tp commercial from long ago that used toothpaste on a hand to simulate ass wiping? It was really gross. It only ran for a little while. They had the side-by-side comparisons to demonstrate the superior shit absorption of the brand name. Worst hand modeling gig ever?

  35. stacey

    :D My pleasure to share info. Gotta use that Textile Arts diploma for something!

  36. tinfoil hattie

    I prefer the commercials with the sly “Does a bear shit in the woods and then wipe its ass with toilet paper that sticks to its shit-covered fur in little paper balls?” theme.

  37. Triste

    Holy shit, I am pretty unbelievably wrong about nearly everything about this African bikini. That’ll learn me to shoot out opinions without actually looking at things for more than a brief few moments before being overcome with cynicism and rage. Well, no it won’t, but it’d be nice if it did.

  38. incognotter

    I feel compelled to point out that Quilted Northern is part of the Koch brothers empire of evil, so there is much more wrong with it than just its stupid ads. Here in we-don’t-want-to-be-ScottWalkerstan-thank-you it is on the cheesehead boycott list.

    Personally, I tend to buy whatever comes wrapped in paper because plastic-wrapped toilet paper seems senseless and wasteful to me. Does TP really need to be protected before sale? I kinda doubt it.

    My “security” in the bathroom comes from my dog, who tends to follow me in to provide both cuteness and protection in the unlikely event it is needed.

  39. tinfoil hattie

    Triste: Yeah, but 99.99% of the time you KNOW you are right about whatever your current rant is, so fuck it. We all have off days.

  40. mearl

    Antoinette – how could I have been so remiss? Febreeze-coated-couch huffing is the new ladymeth. I do it in my exuberantly-coloured, neo-imperialistic bikini.

  41. Daisy Deadhead

    That model looks, what, 14? Is she supposed to be posing as a grown-up?

    I guess they aren’t thin enough as it is, so they get kids now? Jesus H Christ.

  42. kuroame

    That last paragraph had me snorting in a most undignified manner. I just *love* the prim hypocrisy of ads for hygiene products (especially those for pads, oh yes). I really miss Sarah Haskins’ mockery of them.

    “Style ethics” just makes me want to light that magazine on fire. So tired of fashion’s pretensions at caring about humanitarian endeavours. It’s consumerist “activism” (fauxtivism?) at its best.

  43. Embee

    Something about the inanity of the dialogue sounded familiar to me…

    Woman 4: For myself, for my family, it keeps us clean.

    Carrie Prejean, aka Miss California : In my country and in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman.

    Because by mentioning FAMILY whatever nonsense you babble out receives automatic legitimacy.

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