Photo Credit: Gustavo Caballero/FilmMagic/Getty images
Have you seen the commercial for Sofia Vergara's new Kmart collection? In it, the Modern Family star, clad in a leopard print mini-dress, introduces herself in that signature sultry Colombian accent: "Hello, I'm Sofia Vergara and I'm not afraid to work with what I've got!" and shimmies out of the leopard print to become... a skinny blonde who then tranforms herself into a voluptuous black woman who takes off her jacket to become a petite brunette who strips back down into Sofia. All the while, everyone is talking in Sofia's voice: "You're a woman! So dress like a woman. Be proud! Be sexy!" And then Sofia directs the camera's attention away from her famous chest (and a strategically placed Kmart logo) to tell us to go shopping. Just watch it.
It's a little disorienting to hear Sofia's distinctive voice coming out of the non-Sofias' mouths. And, while I think Modern Family has some of the best comedic writing on television, I'm over all of the "Gloria talks crazy!" jokes. Note to the writers: Find a new theme.
But the Kmart commercial works because it isn't trying to say anything about inner beauty. What it is doing -- and quite successfully -- is broadening our definition of beauty by putting not-so-traditionally-beautiful women on the same pedestal with Sofia's gorgeous-by-any-standards body. This says, "sure we think of Sofia as otherworldly hot -- but really, she could be any one of us!" Beauty is democratic and achievable. And so the ad makes two simple promises: That all women are beautiful, just by default of being women, and that these clothes will work on all bodies, not just so-called "perfect" bodies like Sofia's. Every body is a perfect body. Or, can look like one when it's dressed appropriately.
Now whether either of those promises will pan out, I don't know. It's a little much to hope that one commercial could rewrite our definition of beauty. And I fear it's overly optimistic to hope that a mass-produced clothing line will really work on such a wide range of bodies. But one thing I do know is that I'll be heading over to Kmart to find out.
The bottom line is that I want beauty brands, whether they're selling lip gloss or mini skirts, to be beauty brands. Sell me on the fun and glamour and, while you're at it, please democratize beauty so that anyone can have it. Here's where I think Sofia Vergara knows what women want. Probably because she's a pretty smart woman herself.