What Does A Little Girl In A Bikini Have To Do With Energy Generation?

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Recently, a series of ads funded by Platform Breathe were brought to my attention. The advertisements advocate clean energy and feature a little girl running up and down a beach, splashing in waves, and playing with a sailboat. While I question the use of the girl to promote such a message, the ads themselves seem to be shot in different ways.

Little girls wearing bikinis and splashing around in waves are not an inherently sexual or provocative images. What colors the image as sexual is the implied presence of an adult viewer, studying the girl in an acutely sexual way.

This advertisement for instance doesn’t particularly strike me as sexual in gaze:

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The girl may be in a bikini, but her playfulness and demeanor as a child are preserved both with music and her actions. She draws in the sand, leaning over her creation while providing a voice-over narrative before walking away. The child, although scantily clad, is still being presented as a child. Her drawing in the sand, and not the girl specifically, are also the focus for the majority of the ad. There are moments in the video that do raise some questions, such as the slow, panning in shot at the beginning and the brief glimpses of her from afar. These represent quick moments in which the girl is being gazed at and studied, which is further evidenced in this second advertisement:

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The slow, lingering shot is used again in the beginning of the commercial to present the girl on the side of the pond. This same, slow gaze is used throughout the commercial, implying a study of her as she gets in and out of the water before running away. The little girl remains the subject of a very long, extended gaze that watches her from afar. It’s also this faraway, studied gaze that makes her slow descent into the water seem sexual, as well as the camera craning over her suggesting an adult viewer.

Both advertisements seems tasteless in that a little girl in a tiny white suit has little to suggest about clean energy. Using the child to draw attention to the message is also problematic, as the company aligns its intentions with a sexualized depiction of a little girl.