She's a Lady

How to behave like a modern woman

Kara Melchers

Managing Editor, BITE


Have you heard of conscious clubbing? Last week was my first of Morning Gloryville – the pioneers of sober morning raving. The 6:30am start was a test, but once inside the energy was infectious. This week the Gloryvillers were celebrating gender fluidity, a subject many of their community personally identify with.

Gen Y has been dubbed the gender-fluid generation, with role-models like Miley Cyrus openly describing themselves as pansexual. It was Caitlyn Jenner who made this subject ubiquitous within the commercial world, becoming the face of MAC Cosmetics and H&M, and prompting brands to question the role of gender within their products and advertising.

Young Blood, a 7-part online documentary series by agency Amplify, identified that "young people are blurring the lines as consumers, with less than a quarter wanting brands to target them by gender, and 40% saying that clothes should not be gender specific."

Identity based experimentation contributes to a rebellion against traditional media stereotypes. This spreads from gender to race, size, intelligence and power. Getty's recent Lean In collection is a library of images devoted to the powerful depiction of female leadership in contemporary work and life. The images highlight how important it is to make sure the right role-models are visible.

As the world opens up to the idea that people can't, and don't want to be, categorised, it will no longer be considered brave for brands to depict more realistic imagery in their advertising. And even better, they’ll ensure the internal ethos and products are aligned to this way of thinking too.

Read on for examples.

Act like a lady, H&M style

For the past few years H&M have been pioneering when it comes to the role-models they have used in their advertising. Their 2015 ad Close the Loop was a liberating message narrated by Iggy Pop, that encourages us to “break all taboos in fashion, to wear whatever we want and be whoever we want.”

In connection with the Rio Olympics, the fashion brand launched a new sportswear range. To front the collection they chose lesser known athletes who have had to fight for their right to belong, because of gender, disability or race. The TV spot was narrated by Caitlyn Jenner, herself a former Olympic gold medal-winning decathlete. Jenner shared the message that the greatest victory of all has nothing to do with winning medals — it’s about finding the strength to be yourself.

H&M's latest ad questions what it means to behave ‘like a lady”’. Starring some truly exceptional women including actress Lauren Hutton, model Adwoa Aboah, trans actress Hari Nef, Design Army's Chief Creative Officer Pum Lefebure and Lion Babe's Jillian Hervey. The women dress how they want, existing as human beings instead of idealised ladies.


Agency: Forsman & Bodenfors, Gothenburg

Award winning campaigns
1971 Hit
She's a Lady

Netflix’s rules for behaving like a modern woman

The new TV spot is an alternative take on ‘She Rules’, a compilation of all the badass female characters in Netflix’s original shows. The narrative imitates a 1950s educational video, advising schoolgirls that “if you never forget your place and your manners, the world will always be your oyster,” contrasting with the strong female characters that take starring roles in some of Netflix most popular shows.

Agency: Joan, New York

Dove stands up for beauty

Somewhere along the way, it has become the norm to judge women based on their appearance and use their beauty against them. #MyBeautyMySay features stories of amazing women who stand up for their own beauty. Role-models including Rain, an androgynous model from Vermont who was told she was manish and ugly, and Jessica, a fashion icon and blogger who was told that only skinny girls could dress well. Their stories build upon Dove’s movement to tell every woman that they’re beautiful.

Agency: Havas helia, London

Alessandra Ferri defies age for No 7

Beauty ads always show women getting ready, but they never show what they’re getting ready for. On the rare occasion the models set foot outside a studio, it’s to prance aimlessly down a New York sidewalk or roll around in a field of long grass. No7’s wanted to change the story. Their campaign ‘READY’ recognises that women are getting ready for a lot more than just posing and pouting. In their first ad world-class ballerina Alessandra Ferri, 52, dances next to a hologram of her 19-year-old self, proving that women of all ages can still rock it.

Agency: Mother London, London

Agencies Featured