Saturday, July 3, 2010

Boobs, Cheese and Bad Advertising

Lately, I have gotten quite into sending emails to complain about things. As well as being the professionally offended, I have always aspired to be the kind of business suit wearing woman that can send meals back in restaurants in a resolute, but yet polite fashion, and whose meal then arrives back, exactly as she asked for. When I imagine this woman Brass in Pocket immediately begins to play in my head, and I have realised that I have perhaps internalised every woman from every 90's movie ever made. And while I have internalised every wise and cloyingly scripted word that Meg Ryan has ever said on film, before In the Cut at least, I am yet to become this assertive woman. Come to think of it, Meg Ryan is a really shitty example of an assertive woman, particularly in You've Got Mail when Tom Hanks is an asshole and buys out her little book shop. Or does something to her book shop, and therefore her freedom, I forget what exactly. Miranda from Sex and the City would have been a better example. Those movies are dead to me, but I will forever love Miranda-from-the-TV-series for complaining about not having time to schedule her abortion. Now that's assertive.

But failing to be that assertive, and working at an office that really is barely business casual even on a day when the CEO is visiting and therefore having no need to own a business suit, I have been using the Internet. Probably wearing bike shorts. I have been signing a few petitions here; sending some emails there; leaving self-righteous and idealistic comments on news websites everywhere. After my inbox began to fill with sanctimonious replies to my complaints, and after I received about 789 Facebook notifications over a fight on the Internet about International No Diet Day, I thought that perhaps I could start some kind of stand up comedy show where I re-enacted these fights from the Internet. Similar, and only slightly different, to slandering all the Facebook fat shamers in a feminist play. I have just realised that I am possibly in a creative rut. My design propositions for the show were elementary at best, and classist at worst, revolving around having a hat stand with different hats which I would put on to represent each of my opponents. When I realised that this possibly wasn't dramaturgy at its finest I thought that instead I might use this on the blog.

A couple of weeks ago I sent at email to Michael Hightsead, who did the advertising for the vaguely recent Wellington Musical Theatre production of Miss Saigon. And, how surprising, I found the Miss Saigon advertising really offensive. And so I complained about it, feeling virtuous as I clicked send, because I really was fighting the apathy that permeates my generation, and doing far more for the good of the world than joining one of those irritating but also guilt inflicting CLICK TO GIVE EVERYONE FREE RICE AND A MAMMOGRAM websites.

<span class=

Unfortunately, this is the biggest picture that I could find of one of their insipid billboards. Even though their website has animated helicopters with spinning wings, they don't appear to have uploaded any of their shitty promotional material. I tried to blow it up for you, but I failed. Anyway, the words say "Guys, buy her a ticket. Call it an investment". They have another equally boring billboard which says something like "Take a hankie... You too ladies". Yawn. I sent this to Michael:

To Whom It May Concern,
As a regular theatre goer I am contacting you about your Miss Saigon advertising. I think it is a terrible shame that you could not advertise the show to men without objectifying, demeaning and offending women. Saying a ticket to the show is an investment is offensive, and it implies that a circumstance could arise where a woman would owe a man sex. The other adverts, such as the one about hankies, were equally offensive in their banal perpetuation of gender stereotypes. Disappointing, and I have not attended the show based on these reasons.
Ally Garrett

Even though I actually really wouldn't have gone and seen the show, because Miss Saigon is filed under a special folder in my brain, that folder being The Musicals That I Hate. Michael emailed me back by saying:

Hi Ally
I apologise for the delay in responding to your e-mail - I have been out of Wellington since 29/4
Thanks for taking the time to convey your views on our MS advertising campaign - Certainly it was never our intention to offend anyone with the content of our billboard advertising, rather it was an attempt to add a little humour into the campaign and I have to say we have had an incredible amount of positive feedback in this regard.
It is acknowledged that there will always be a conflicting viewpoint and I am sorry you were offended by the 'scripting' in this regard especially as it resulted in you missing what could and was often described as a production of international quality.
Michael Highsted
Business Manager
Wellington Musical Theatre

And then I emailed back:

Hello Michael,
How incredibly patronising.


Which at least gave me some sort of satisfaction, especially as Michael declined to stoop to my embarrassing level of communication, that level of communication being the exchange of insults. And as I got the last word, at least I can smugly assume that I won. I had a better time recently complaining about cheese.

<span class=

There is perhaps nothing that I love more than cheese, and I have said upon more than one occasion that I would be perfectly happy to have my wedding cake made out of haloumi. Perhaps with a thin spread of chutney, or Cheese Sidekick as I like to call it, to masquerade as icing. But Kaimai Cheese Company do really lovely cheeses, and I really liked going to the Chaffers Markets in Wellington on a Sunday and buying some of their red cheddar. When I found out that it had been discontinued I became so distraught that it inspired the following flowery and melodramatic email:

Hello to the good people at Kaimai Cheeses,
It is with extreme sadness that I write to you on this Sunday afternoon. I have just been to the Chaffers vegetable and farmers markets in Wellington. For the past few months every Sunday I have bought a block of your red cheddar and tried to make it last throughout the week. This morning I was told, much to by dismay, that the red cheddar was no more. The lovely gentleman at the stall was also perplexed, as he said that it had been his best selling hard cheese. I am writing this email to heartily encourage you to bring back the red cheddar because it was delicious, and now I have nothing to put on crackers or in my mashed kumara.
Many thanks,
Ally Garrett.
P.S I tried the mature cheddar and it is nowhere near as good.

The cheese people responded with this:

Hi there Ally,
I'm afraid this batch of Red Cheddar is actually very well aged, almost 4 years old. So it is not so much that we are no longer making it, as it has been a very long time since we have done so, but Kaimai does not currently have their own hard cheese making plant.
We used to have a very good relationship with another cheese making plant, who actually made this cheese for us to our recipe, but they can no longer do this for us.
We are currently in the process of planning and building our own hard cheese plant, and have had many queries such as your own, in regards to the red cheddar, so it is definately something we will consider manufacturing in the future, but unfortunately this will most likely not be until 2011 at the earliest.
Although we have a product called 'Mature Cheddar' it is no where near as well aged as our Red Cheddar, so does not have the sharp tangy flavour that our Red Cheddar possesses. There is no other close alternative to this flavour profile currently under the Kaimai brand.
We thank you for your kind comments about our cheese, and are sorry to disappoint you in regards to this product, but do keep an eye on our website in the future as this is where we keep people informed about changes, and being a company on the 'grow' there should be many new and exciting products in the future for the Kaimai Cheese Company.
Jenna Russell
Sales Representative
Kaimai Cheese Company

I felt better about this response. I like Jenna a lot more than I like Michael. I still am heart broken about the cheese though.

Speaking of my heart, there is something other than cheese that is close to my heart. My boobs. And yes, I reserve the right to blog about my boobs. The personal is the political and other pertinent slogans. Here is a picture of them, trying to escape when I was dressed as a wench at my friend Phylli's birthday.


They are huge, and they are a huge part of my life. I love them. I love how they look in a deep V neck t-shirt, I love thrusting them baout when I walk around, whenever a show calls for a corset they are the main reason that I am cast and I was once told on the balcony of San Francisco Bathhouse that I have the best cleavage in the world. I often have difficulty wrangling them into bras, and currently Fayreform is the only brand they, and I, really like. They like Fayreform because it fits quite well, and I like Fayreform because sometimes they make a tit sling that doesn't look like a safety net or a bandage or a pressure device. And yes, blah blah, bras are a social construct and I know about the beauty myth and I don't necessarily need to wear one. But actually, I want to wear one because when I don't I can't walk to Patels to get a Samosa without my tits hurting. As well as the personal being the political, what I choose is my choice. nd so, when I first heard about new-ish lingerie brand DimitySO I was pretty excited, because the entire thrust of their marketing slogan is 'SIZES D-J ONLY'.


See? And their bras are pretty beautiful. That is one of them up there at the start of the post. (Although the pictures of the bras on their website are a bit weird, why you gotta crop your model's heads off DimitySO?) But, when I went into Farmers or Kirks or something to look at the DimitySO bras I was pissed off. Probably would actually go so far to say that I was offended. Because they only make the bras up to size to 16. I read that Jezebel article recently about how most lingerie designers don't make bigger bras, because they require bigger effort. I think this is kind of a shitty excuse, and think that maybe these designers need to aim a little higher. Especially because I feel like every week I read the same recycled article about how the average bra size is rising, and the most common cup size is DD and the average dress size in New Zealand is size 14. But I don't think that DimitySO even get to use that excuse because they are all about the ladies with the bigger tits. But apparently, not the ladies with the bigger backs. Their promotional material reads: '"Sighs of relief have echoed across the world. No longer must fashionable women with D – J cups sizes be relegated to the horrific world of 'nanna' lingerie." Come on DimitySO, can't the fat ladies be fashionable too? And so, I sent them an email:

Hi there DimitySO!
I think your bras are just gorgeous. I am a size 16 lady, but I wear a size 18 bra because of my broad back.
It is so sad that I can't wear your lovely bras, especially because you
pride yourself on being for ladies with bigger boobs, but so many of
those ladies also have bigger backs!
Anyway, I would one day love to be able to wear one of your gorgeous
From Ally.
To be honest, I am not a size 16 lady. I am maybe a size 16 lady after a recent bout of food poisoning, but right now this body that I am sitting in here typing in is not a size 16. It is more like a size 18, but sometimes needing a size 20 bra because of the bigger back thing. I don't know why I felt the need to lie to the strangers at DimitySO. Maybe that is incredibly problematic in itself and as well as the business woman and Meg Ryan I have also inevitably internalised a whole lot of body shame and I need to save it up for another post. Or maybe I was just worried that DimitySO had a touch of the Karl Lagerfeld and didn't want to see fat chicks in their garments. Anyway, this is what they wrote back:
Hi Ally

Thanks for your email.
I am actually a size 18D but wear DimitySO in a 16DD which is the same size cup just a little smaller around the body, so I wear them on the last hook.
Although not ideal, you could look at using a bra extender. This attaches to the existing hooks and eyes and gives you another 4-5 cm at least around the body. The only downside to these is that the straps sit a little further out to the side than they were designed to do, but many people use bra extenders as an option.

I imagine that as the brand grows other sizing's will be added - I hope so anyway.

I will send you comments through to the DimitySO designers to show your interest in this.

Kind regards

Shelley Belsham
Customer / Consumer Service Co-ordinator | Bendon Limited P O Box 53042,
Auckland Airport, Auckland | 8 Airpark Drive, Airport Oaks, Mangere,
D +64 9 257 1696 | F +64 9 257 1600

Which I found kind of interesting. On one hand, that is great that Shelley is going to send my comments through to the designers, and maybe everyone who is reading this blog and who cares about my boobs should also send them an email. But also, Shelley! Shelley, who works for a lingerie company is comitting the cardinal sin of admitting she wears the wrong size bra, because the company she works for doesn't make anything in her size. And whenever I read that recycled article about average bra sizes I also read about how having a crappily fitted bra gives you headaches and back aches and neck aches and all of the other aches. So, that sucks for Shelley. And the general dearth of fashionable, fun and affordable plus size clothing, underwear included, sucks for everyone. In the society we live in, people have gotta wear clothes. Most of the time. And also, that argument about plus size clothing encouraging people to be fat is fucking bullshit. People just want to be warm and if they want to follow trends and express themselves then, by god, they should be able to. Seriously people, untapped market. Apart from ASOS Curve, cos that shit is good. And sometimes it would be cool if I didn't have to look for jersey fabrics or pay with pounds online to put clothes on my body. Or to put wire under my tits.


  1. Boobalicious blog!
    I have dealt with Highstead before, he IS a patronising ass hat.

  2. Michael: "I'm sorry that you're so offended"

    Also, it's kind of weird that the woman responding to your email to DimitySO not only did not wear the right bra size, but also couldn't give any reasonable response to your complaint other than "I'll pass on your concerns."

  3. Shelley is right about the sizing - I fit the 16s in DimitySo. But vanity sizing is super dumb. Why don't they just call an 18 an 18? I was actually put off trying them on for ages because of the sizing then someone told me that they ran large. It sucks as a sales strategy. And they should go higher than 18 anyway...

  4. Ally you are awesome. I am so glad you called Wellington Musical Theatre out on their stupid advertising campaign. It made me really angry but unlike you I didn't do anything about it other than refuse to go. It also made me really angry that they spent so much on stupid giant billboards and rickshaws and posters that were around for months which surely pushed their costs up and contributed to the tickets being ridiculously expensive for a show in which the actors don't get paid. Anyway. You are great. I complained to the David Lawrence management for not letting Revolt of the Mannequins stay in their window during the NZ International Arts Festival. They never replied. I also complained to NZ Post about how Kiwi Bank people make the lines huge at lunchtime when all I want to do is buy a stamp and they rang me. Twice. And I got scared and didn't ring them back. So basically, I like complaining but I am also a scaredy cat non-Miranda.

  5. Cherie! You can do it in the future! Maybe they were ringing to give you free stamps? I wish that Kaimai had given me some free cheese.

  6. Ally you are fantastic!!!
    You've always been a lingual master,
    Your blog publicly confirms this.
    I had to stop reading to giggle.
    Please don't stop.

  7. Ooh, I'm pretty late to this party, but I was also miffed with Dimity So, but for different reasons. Their biggest bra size fitted me- just- which was a shock because normally bras that fit me are ug central (and these aren't). And, buoyed by this revelation, I thought I would try the matching underwear, because normally the matching underwear for bras I like is a g-string (which I do not like). But the biggest size of underwear bottoms they sell is a large! (Or at least that I could find in both shops that sell it in my city). And not just a large, but a horribly undersized large. So I feel a bit pissed off that they're happy to reap the profits from people with big breasts (and not so big backs/torsos), but don't seem to care that lots of those people will have big butts. Not impressed at all.

  8. I am REALLY late commenting on this post (boring day at the office, reading through your archives!) But now I am offended because of DimitySO's wording - sizes D-J only? Only? I don't give a damn what size clothes and bras and SHOES people choose to stock, but I do give a damn when I feel purposefully excluded because I only have little B-cup boobs. It works both ways.