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Artists from 12 Countries Re-Imagined the Most Controversial American Ads

This is what happens when the most controversial, provocative ads get a re-do from female artists from around the world.

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Superdrug Online DoctorCourtesy Superdrug Online Doctor

Provocative advertising sells for a reason

Sex sells, as marketing departments know, and for many companies that value takes precedence over body positivity. So as retailers rake in the big bucks, consumers are left to grapple with hypersexual depictions of women and completely unrealistic beauty standards. (But these empowering swimsuit pictures prove there is no one perfect body.)

There’s also an increasing demand for the models we see online, on billboards, on TV screens, and in glossy magazines to represent all types of women—women from different countries, with different skin colors, body shapes, personal style, and messages. What might that look like? The team at U.K.-based health and beauty retailer Superdrug Online Doctor decided to find out, asking female artists from 12 different countries—representing four continents, including Asia, Europe, North America, and South America—to re-illustrate three of the most controversial, provocative ads from Protein World, American Apparel, and Carl’s Jr., campaigns.

As the results show, there is no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to beauty or body image. These inspiring, empowering, and completely refreshing representations of what real women look like are exactly what we may soon see in more advertising campaigns.

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UkraineCourtesy Superdrug Online Doctor

Ukraine: American Apparel

The Ukrainian artist gave the model leggings, but kept her legs in the original wide-open pose, explaining, “There’s nothing wrong with sex.” She also presented a different type of beauty than that normally seen on billboards. Who says under-arm hair can’t be desirable? Here are three things women with incredible sex lives always do.

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USCourtesy Superdrug Online Doctor

United States: Carl’s Jr.

The American artist took sex appeal out of the burger ad and instead drew the subject as a surgeon, presumably taking a quick break from her medical duties to take a nice bite out of a meal.

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UKCourtesy Superdrug Online Doctor

United Kingdom: Protein World

A “beach body” can be an active body and not just a sexualized object in a bikini, as demonstrated by the U.K. artist, who depicted a woman in a full wetsuit with a surfboard. Here’s why we should banish the phrase “bikini body” from our vocabulary STAT.

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VenezuelaCourtesy Superdrug Online Doctor

Venezuela: American Apparel

Some countries highlighted the American Apparel model’s empowerment with words. The artist from Venezuela identified her as having strength and pride. We can all learn from the body confidence tricks of plus-size models.

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PeruCourtesy Superdrug Online Doctor

Peru: Carl’s Jr.

Instead of Paris Hilton in a swimsuit slashed to the navel holding a burger she seemed completely disinterested in, the Peruvian design shows a fully-clothed woman who looks delighted to be tucking into her feast.

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MexicoCourtesy Superdrug Online Doctor

Mexico: Protein World

“My body is always ready,” says Frida Kahlo on Mexico’s re-imagined Protein World ad, an assertion backed up by her fierce pose. You can use a similar power pose to get every day off to a better start.

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RussiaCourtesy Superdrug Online Doctor

Russia: American Apparel

Like many other artists, the Russian designer showed the model wearing more clothes than in the original ad, and changed the sexually provocative pose to make her look more empowered.

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Taiwan: Carl’s Jr.

There’s definitely pleasure in the Taiwanese artist’s Carl’s Jr., redesign—but it’s the pleasure of food, not a sexual high.

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BrazilCourtesy Superdrug Online Doctor

Brazil: American Apparel

Brazil’s version of the American Apparel ad combines many elements of the other artists’ designs: a closed-leg position, an “alternative” beauty image (tattoos and facial piercings), and a message of female empowerment: “Go girls.” For some serious girl power, check out these quotes from seriously awesome historical women.

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PhilipinesCourtesy Superdrug Online Doctor

Philipines: American Apparel

Vibrant colors and a clear message—”My body, my rules,” gives the Philippines artist’s interpretation of the American Apparel ad power and high energy.

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GreeceCourtesy Superdrug Online Doctor

Greece: Carl’s Jr.

“I am a woman, not a piece of meat,” is the message on the redesigned Carl’s Jr., ad from Greece—a clever way to draw attention to the treatment of women by men in her culture.

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JordanCourtesy Superdrug Online Doctor

Jordan: Protein World

The artist from Jordan banished the words “beach” and “body” from the ad, and drew the model with less flesh on display, plus a more realistic body shape.