Today our papers reported that a billboard advertisement for someone, or something, called Silvian Heach has been criticized for showing too much of the model’s ‘B-side’ (as your bum gets called here.) Apparently people have been protesting that it is in bad taste and in a few cities, including Milan and Genoa, they are going to have to remove the ads.
It reminded me of when I first arrived in Genoa and how completely shocked I was at the advertising on the streets, on the television, at the cinema, everywhere. Compared to what I was used to seeing in Britain the number of images exploiting the female image was incredible. Why don’t the women protest? Why do they allow it? Why doesn’t somebody do something? When I asked Italians I knew they couldn’t see the problem. ‘What’s wrong with people looking at a beautiful woman?’ … After a few years I thought it just must be me.
I first arrived in Italy in mid-September and whilst Kent was drizzling and cold it was 27° in Genoa. I should have noticed even back then that the attention my yellow shorts and red-vesty-thing were attracting had little to do with how nice they looked. I should have realized that if I wanted to live in Italy and have any kind of credibility at all I would need to do something about my dress sense – like get one! I couldn’t hope to get away with a colour combination like that… and shorts! In September! In town! Certain things just weren’t done. This was only the first of a long line of fashion faux pas which soon led me to understand that I would never be a real Italian however much I tried unless I sorted my style out. Should have checked out the Silvian Heach users’ guide... or maybe that would have got me arrested before I’d even started.
But anyway, that was twenty years ago. Things have changed …(apart from the dress sense)!