Bon Appetit February 2013 Cover

The Assholes of Bon Appetit Ads: February 2013

I was automatically subscribed to Bon Appétit when Gourmet magazine died. At some point I might have even renewed that subscription, because it’d become a tradition to hop into a steaming hot bath and pore over the recipes while getting giggly drunk on gin or wine and eating ice cream. Every time one landed in my mail box it screamed, “bath time!” It meant I had to set aside an evening just for me and my magazine: a pretty special date.

I’m not renewing this subscription for other reasons, but I thought I’d share what flipping through the most recent issue felt like. It felt a little icky. It felt like Adam Rapoport, the former style editor of GQ magazine, had taken over a cooking magazine. The magazine now not only has more than ever to do with meat, but it also has more than ever to do with… meat. I present to you, the assholes of Bon Appétit February 2013 (having mainly to do with the advertisements).

Lexus Memorable Performance Ad
Is she a rental, too?

Oh wait a second…

Damn straight, it’s the Pacific Northwest, where the people still have their wits about them. No assholes on this page. Men tattoo women’s names on their arms… and sport impenetrable beards… and always look so familiar… You can buy yourself all those things on this page and close your eyes and you will *actually* be in Portland or Olympia or Seattle. It’s true. And just look at that Sweetpea Farmers Market Bike! That’s like my bike, except about $3600 nicer. One can dream.


[I will totally ignore the thin woman on page 33 who evidently lives on smoothies and big salads, beans, lentils, and hummus, while finding time to go to bootcamp seven days a week and raise a couple children. I think her husband might mean something else when he says “Ooooh” when she takes her clothes off. I think he means, “you need to eat something.” And she says, “Sorrrry!” Dammit, I thought this was a COOKING and EATING magazine!]

…lots of pages with really yummy food on them…

This magazine is cooked.

What is it with all those images of men who are detached from their female companions? I would think cooking magazines would largely be for ladies, and that they especially would like to see these hunks engaged with women. With eye contact, for example.* Even if this magazine is largely for men, it seems like showing images of men connected with their companions would be a little healthier. It wasn’t that I was seeking this experience out, but the Lexus ad a few pages in really struck me, and then I kept seeing a similar pattern through the remaining ads.

Take a gander… let me know what you think.

  • Am I being over-sensitive? (I can be just that.)
  • Do you also think the ads featuring men and women are all styled a bit similarly?
  • What do you think these ads say? Go subliminal.

*Every woman in these ads is engaged, with friendly eye contact.

Postscript (1/24/2013): I’ve noticed some things since writing this post.

One, there are 35 ads in this issue, and 6 (17%) are for wrinkle creams, botox, or eyelash-growth potion. I’ve shown you four other ads here.

Two, I think in this case I am actually seeking the “male gaze.” Either that, or these ads are such a desperate, scrambling attempt at avoiding the Male Gaze trap, that they completely overlook (if not snub) the female participants, while still including them. But the lead roles in these ads are played by men. Men who can’t have my gaze, because they are presumably attached. And because… they are assholes. Giggle.

Postscript (3/27/2013): This Banana Republic ad came in the March issue. It infuriates me because again, the body language is ALL OFF. Why is she hugging his back? What is he doing with his hands? I want to punch his smug face! And above all, what if anything does this woman EAT? I want to get her into a hospital bed and put a feeding tube in her. Who approves these ads for a cooking magazine?! Ugh.

Bon Appetit Banana Republic Anorexic Ad in a Food Magazine