This years much anticipated Christmas advert from John Lewis is about two things – fighting the isolation felt by a million older people, and making amends to girls by saying ” yes, this girl can.”
The choice of Kim Gehrig to direct this annual £7 million tear jerker was an inspired move by John Lewis, who have up until now come under fire for stereotyping children, most notably with their John Lewis Boy and John Lewis Girl range. Gehrig is responsible for the popular “This Girl Can” advert for Sport England, part of a national campaign to celebrate active women up and down the country, no matter how they look, or how red their face gets.
“I was also aware that the majority of images representing women in sports advertising are very glossy and “perfect”. That was something I wanted to challenge. In particular, I had been fascinated about the portrayal of cellulite in the media for a while. I wanted to celebrate it and try to make it sexy. Why not, when most of us have it? I would love young girls to have a different perception of what is an ideal body image than I did as I grew up.” Kim Gehrig
The Man on the Moon features 6 year old Lily, who is seen throughout using her family telescope – she is the star of the show, and the mix of girl plus Astronomer is a welcome improvement to some of the stereotypes we have challenged John Lewis to tackle over the past year.
Dear old Monty and Mabel, this was a big hit for John Lewis, but the pink for girls (together) or blue for boys (standard) was indicative of the problem with many high street retailers, and yet on the back of our emails John Lewis did reply, did meet us and DID promise changes in the year ahead.
In June however we pulled John Lewis up on this as yet another example of cultural sexism, after all female Astronauts will probably just cry or fall in love with you, right?
“I welcome that “Space Man” has been changed to “Astronaut” on your website but there is no Science, History, Engineering or Technology themes offered in your girls section on line, or in store.”
So you can imagine our sheer joy, sheer elation that John Lewis has sent out such a powerful message to girls, and anyone who might think Space Science is not for girls, but they don’t stop there – oh no!
UNISEX, the Let Clothes Be Clothes holy grail, and theres a small part of me that sits back and thinks our work is done here. Its a small example within a childrenswear department that has a long long way to go before it fires gender stereotypes into space for good, but what a powerful celebration of girls, and Space Science.
This girl CAN ride her scooter fast while wearing a Dinosaur helmet, play football, archery and dance, AND finally… wear her John Lewis Space clothes with pride. Well done John Lewis, and Happy Christmas!
To donate to Age UK please click here
Your donation could make a huge difference to an older person’s life – helping Age UK to offer companionship, advice and support, through services such as our national Advice Line. It’s free to everyone who needs it and open every day, including Christmas Day. Thank you.