“Boyfriend” Marketing is Stoopid

I recently bought a new “boyfriend watch.” I did not go into the store thinking, “I want a watch that looks like I just dashed out of the house and accidentally put on my boyfriend’s watch.” Whoopsie! Teehee! I wanted a BIG watch.

The boyfriend [fill-in-the-item] postfeminist marketing ploy has been around for a while. I gave the “boyfriend” jeans a miss. If you want jeans cut like a dude’s, just walk across The Gap aisle to the men’s section. Want a “boyfriend shirt”? One that appears as if you just rolled out of your man’s bed and picked up the nearest (stinky) shirt to hand and ran your hand through your carefully styled just-been-fucked hairdo? Any number of shops from American Eagle to Aber-Supermacy & Fitch can hook you up.

The boyfriend gear bugs me because it just reeks of desperation. It’s not even cloaked as the Independent Woman who can afford her own car, house, shoes, jewelery trope—remember the Right-hand Ring? Instead, boyfriend clothing marketing reinforces for women that we’re somehow less than if we can’t at least give the appearance of hetero, child-like dependency. Daddy’s jeans and daddy’s shirt would be creepy. But looking as if you raided your boyfriend’s bedroom means somebody loves you…enough to let you wear their stuff?

I still can’t figure out how they came up with a boyfriend watch, but I will admit that I’m no Don Draper. MOJOMBO WATCH isn’t a sexy advertising grabber. I did decline the offer of the shop’s accompanying sticker for the watch: My Boyfriend is Always On Time.



Filed under sexuality, Uncategorized, women

2 responses to ““Boyfriend” Marketing is Stoopid

  1. flyovermiss

    The boyfriend gear bugs me for a slightly different, albeit related, reason. Dressing in a way that’s often read or coded as boyish is a core part of my aesthetic, but the clothes designed for male bodies don’t always accomodate my slight female curviness well – ironically, I find that I can pull off my little boy dyke persona better in the “boyfriend” genre of clothing than in “real” male clothes.

    The issue for me is therefore all about the marketing, since I confess I love the clothes otherwise. As you note, this marketing ploy implies that the only reason that a woman would want to wear these clothes is to look like she has a man who loves her enough to let her steal his button-downs. However, the way in which these clothes are marketed denies the possibility that dressing in a “boyish” or “mannish” way is a valid gender expression for women, be they gay or straight. It therefore reifies more traditional female gender expression as the only acceptable mode.


  2. 4everuppity

    I suspected that boyfriend jeans were, in fact, cut slightly differently to accommodate hips and such.

    I didn’t, however, think about subverting marketers’ intent and using their boyfriend clothing as boy-me clothing. A useful insight. As much as the trend irks me, I want more examples now!

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