The Coppertone Girl Is a Little Creepy, Right? Just a Little?

Illustration for article titled The Coppertone Girl Is a Little Creepy, Right? Just a Little?

Hey, parents! Have you always dreamed of your daughter being known worldwide as an oddly sexualized orange baby whose pants are eternally being eaten off by a dog? Well, your day has come, my friend! Merck & Company is reviving their classic "Coppertone girl" campaign with the "Little Miss Coppertone" contest. The winner gets to show their butt on the internet. Forever.


Through June 22, parents can submit photos of their daughters aged 2-7 (sons are BANNED!!!) to the Little Miss Coppertone Facebook page, where other parents and, uh, sunburned baby enthusiasts, can comment and bicker. Then a panel of judges, including some lady, will choose the finalists.

Revival campaigns like this one use the power of nostalgia as a marketing tool, says one Merck executive:

The contest is another example of what has been called comfort marketing, as Madison Avenue revives, with modern-day twists, familiar brand characters, jingles, slogans and ads. The goal is to appeal to consumers during today's tough times with soothing content but update it to reassure shoppers the products meet today's needs.


"Not only is she a famous trademark, she is a love mark," he said, and has "become a part of the fabric of the American summer."

"Love mark." Ew! (Weirdly, they've decided not to revive the "comforting" tagline, "Don't be a paleface!")

Okay, here's the thing. I am not an insane person. I certainly don't think that any depiction of a naked child constitutes child pornography, or even edges in that direction, or that children shouldn't be allowed to go outside because pedophiles might see them, or that all dogs are total perverts (although I have my suspicions on that last count!!!). I am normal! I swear!

But does the Coppertone Girl HAVE to make that pouty pin-up face? Because make no mistake—that is the classic pin-up face. Why couldn't she have done this with her face? Or this? Or this? Or made any face that an actual child would make if some molestery dog attacked them and tried to chew their pants off?

I don't even have a problem with the butt part. Butts! Whatever! It's the face. Like, the skirt on that Morton's Salt girl is pretty short, you guys! But, luckily for all of humanity, it doesn't matter, because the Morton's Salt girl isn't making THIS FACE.


The original Coppertone Girl advertisements debuted in 1953—pre-sexual revolution—so maybe pop culture was just more innocent then. They didn't have pigtailed Britney Spears hitting-babies-one-more-time on primetime television. There was no such thing as a Ke$ha. But they did have fucking pin-up ladies! Making that exact face! Drawn in that exact style! I'm just saying, I find it hard to believe that no one noticed the similarity—if, indeed, it wasn't intentional. There is a certain segment of the population that finds it adorable, hilarious, and profitable to dress their children up like very tiny strippers.

I recognize this is silly. But all I am doing is saying.


Fauna & Flora

Are we sure it's not actually the opposite? We all know how pornography likes to infantilize adult women, so maybe those pin-up faces were originally meant to mimic childlike innocence, in a creepy attempt to sexualize youth. And now they are just associated with sex. Perhaps Coppertone was just innocently modeling their image after Shirley Temple, or other Hollywood depictions of girlhood?