Mother-Daughter Lingerie Ad Sparks 'Incense' Criticism

Illustration for article titled Mother-Daughter Lingerie Ad Sparks 'Incense' Criticism

A lingerie line's new ad campaign features a mom and daughter lounging together in their underwear. The pictures are certainly weird, but do they really suggest incest?


That's what Dr. Nancy Irwin tells Fox News about The Lake and Stars's new campaign: "These ads are highly suggestive. They are clearly designed to titillate consumers; mostly men. The incestuous and lesbian suggestions, with the phallic images of cactus and logs, are juvenile at best." On the flip side, there's Steve Hall of AdRants, who says,

It's a metaphor, of course. It's unlikely a mother and daughter would be caught dead in the same room with one another clad only in lingerie. But that's the literal visual people are reacting to, not the idea of a close, nurturing, loving relationship between a mother and a daughter.

I know I've changed clothes in the same room as my mom many a time, but it's true that I'm unlikely to pose poutily with her while we lie on the floor. I don't think the ads are meant to suggest an incestuous relationship between the two women, but given the sexualized nature of lingerie ads, a mother-daughter campaign just seems like a bad idea. I don't want to think about my mom when purchasing sexy underwear, and I'll wager she doesn't want to think about me. However, the whole thing may be worth it for this astute criticism, from the blog Scallywag & Vagabond: "What's controversial isn't that these two women appear half naked in the ad together but how they actually appear together. Or to be succinct how they relate to each other, which in this case borders on incense." We all know that's a fire hazard.

‘It Borders on Incense!' L&S Photos Provoke Some Strong Reactions [LingerieTalk]
Are Lingerie Ads Featuring Mother And Daughter Disturbing, Or Just Darling? [Fox News]


Jenna Sauers

I actually quite like how our perception of these two changes over the series of images. In some, the mother is wearing significantly more clothing, and it's the daughter's body that's revealed — but in others, the daughter is covered, and it's the mother who is wearing the skimpier outfit. In several, they're both similarly clothed. Now, it's the Lake & Stars we're talking, so nobody's really wearing anything that revealing, but I really do feel like this is a conscious attempt to play with the viewer's expectations, and confound our idea of which of these women should get to be the "sexy" one.

Women are trained — since puberty, if not since birth — to compete with one another on the grounds of our allure to men in all kinds of ways, subtle and not-so-subtle. When a daughter grows up, she's supposedly ripening into her sexuality, just as her mother is supposedly turning into a dried-up old crone whose usefulness to men is gone. We're taught always to want to be "the sexy one," we're meant to compete with every other woman for that dubious crown, and we're even supposed to compete with our own mothers for it. This spread challenges that idea. Both of these women are beautiful. They are not portrayed to be particularly "sexy," in that same-old, male-gaze way. And they are not competing.

Besides: if it were any other lingerie company, they would have hired a 34C-24"-24" 5'11" Brazilian, slathered her limbs in baby oil, and photographed her all pouty-sexy. That aesthetic paradigm is potentially more problematic, in terms of the view of women it presents, but even worse it's terribly unoriginal and boring. This — the use of two non-professional models (they're the designer's neighbors) of different generations, is actually very interesting.