Swedish Label Rodebjer Cast a Robotics Scientist in Its Latest Campaign

Fashion’s Fall 2016 ad campaigns have begun their long march into our subconsciouses, surely as department stores are already stocking sweaters and winter coats, and with this at best comes the procession of nontraditional models representing Real Women (TM).

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The internet lost its shit over Kenzo’s recent fragrance ad, which featured Margaret Qualley doing a frenetic dance around a palace to a song by dancehall star Assassin and Sam Spiegel, directed by Spike Jonze. I thought it was cute and fun and was happy it did not use sex to market the scent but the choreography was fine and a little too self-conscious. What can I say!

But today we get a new advert from Rodebjer, the excellent and covetable Swedish label designed by Carin Rodebjer. The model is modelly, but she’s not really a model at all; she’s Danica Kragic, a robotics scientist and Computer Science professor at Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology, and a choice reflecting Rodebjer’s focus on the individuality of powerful women.

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The resulting clip is a little bit art school—watch it, you’ll see—but it’s also much better than your standard commercial, presenting Kragic in posey-poses but also showing her with robots as she discusses and embraces her various inconsistencies. She also tells us she’s a seamstress; she doesn’t tell us she’s the Vice Dean, whose latest published work is entitled “A Sensorimotor Learning Framework for Object Categorization.” I don’t know what that means!

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DISCUSSION

Wow, using a woman from a STEM field instead of a model! How progressive! And how amazing that she just so happens to be thin, white and conventionally attractive! I’m sure they scoured every robotics lab and university in Sweden to find a woman STEMer who didn’t look like a model, but just couldn’t do it. The Swedes sure are an attractive people!

Yeah, that’s sarcasm. They didn’t use a model, but they damn sure searched until they found a Smart Woman who looked like one. Ms. Kragic’s achievements are worthy of celebration, but let’s not kid ourselves she’d be in this ad if she was fat with blotchy skin and buckteeth. See ladies? You can be attractive and smart! But you do have to be attractive. This is fucking tokenism and it’s insulting.