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Monday January 22, 2001

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No way to ignore these breasts

By Laura Winsky

I've got three roommates, and they're great people. I've been friends with one of them since I was five, so I was shocked when he came home wearing a yellow visor a few weeks ago.

It had the Playboy bunny on it.

He might as well have tattooed "Bring on the naked girls!" on his forehead. I couldn't believe that he chose to wear that symbol on his head. But I was able to put it aside; he's kind of a silly guy with a good heart and who says we don't have to be serious all the time. What really bothered me, though, was that it had been a Christmas present. From his girlfriend.

I guess I try to ignore Playboy for the most part, because I can. I can choose not to buy their products (obviously), and I can choose to avoid their subject matter altogether. So what gets me revved up is when I can't - the types of situations where it's not only shoved in my face, but in everyone else's as well.

So it's understandable that I nearly had a car wreck out on East Tanque Verde Road when I passed a Hooters billboard a few nights ago. Usually, I ignore them, but this one wasn't going to be ignored. It was a lovely picture of three of their wonderful ladies, in their cute little uniforms. The billboard's catch phrase was, "Made you look, didn't we?" followed by their signature, "HOOTERS."

It drove me up the wall.

Ordinarily, I'm no friend of censorship. But I'm no friend of corporate irresponsibility either. The billboard wasn't downtown, it wasn't in our business district. It wasn't even near a Hooters.

It was out near the base of Mt. Lemmon, close to the entrances of the Catalina Highway neighborhoods. So who is their target audience supposed to be? Is Hooters hurting for business to such an extent that they need to reach out to the 12-and-under population? With advertisements asking them to take a look at a billboard of blown-up breasts?

We all know that "corporate ethics" is an oxymoron. Recently, Campbell's soup ran an ad that showed a group of 12- and 13-year-old girls talking excitedly about Campbell's new low-fat soups because they were dieting.

I was dismayed. So much for the "mmm mmm good" ad campaigns, the commercials with little kids running inside the house for a hot bowl of soup after building a snowman on a winter day.

This ad was more like, "mmm mmm anorexia."

Fortunately, Campbell's quickly yanked the commercial and made a public apology.

Unfortunately, women are still often the victims of ludicrous and harmful advertising.

It behooves capitalism to downplay the role of women in general. It's the way in which the system can get away with paying us 78 cents to the dollar. Women are portrayed in an inferior light, the work that we do is belittled and we're often reduced to sex objects.

So what happens to the lovely Hooters ladies? They work for $2.13 plus tips, they bring a meager salary home to their hungry children, and the people who own and operate Hooters sit back and laugh. They enjoy the money that their new billboard helps to bring in.

And if I hear one more person tell me how great the wings are...