Yesterday, I was walking up Broadway on the Upper West Side of New York City, on my way to meet my visiting family for dinner. Somewhere around the mid-80s (I think it was 86th Street), I came across a bus stop with a big H&M ad featuring Beyoncé. She was wearing a sexy yellow bikini. Well, I don’t know if the yellow bikini, as a garment, was sexy; but it was on Beyoncé, so it was sexy.
After marveling for an instant, the next immediate thought – and the one that I pondered for the next half block – was, “Man, that’s kinda risqué, isn’t it? All that skin. Those curves. There are children around. Cover up.”
It’s not that the ad itself was risqué. If I saw it in the East Village, I wouldn’t have batted an eye. But there were kids and moms and families all over the place when I saw the ad on Broadway. That section of the UWS is a relatively quiet, family-oriented section of the city and it seemed out of place.
Apparently, I’m not the only one taken (a little) aback by these ads. The ad was censored at a bus stop on the Lower East Side. (Not the neighborhood I’d have pegged for the censorship.)
Katy Brand, writing for The Telegraph, makes an interesting point:
So a protest has begun. At one bus stop in particular, the image of Mrs. Carter in a small, Aztec print two-piece is falling victim to guerrilla censorship on a daily basis. A white sheet appears every morning, stuck over her lower half. By the evening it has been removed, only to be replaced by another the following morning. Having always been led to believe that New York was the most unshockable city on earth, home to millions of sophisticates that wouldn’t turn a hair if their own grandmothers walked past them in the nude, it is interesting that this little protest is bubbling up there.
This is when we need one of those androgynous stick-figure, emaciated models (the ones that look no different than Bill Hader’s Stefon). Bey might be too much for 10-year-old Johnny on his way to school. The kid already has an unrequited crush on Sophia. Why must we add insult to injury and send the kid to school with a chubby?