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FLEB Marketing Tactic #8 Safe Status Quo Imagery

Day 8 of How To Spot a Female Lifestyle Empowerment Brand (FLEB).⁠

If you’re a consumer, this crash course can help you make an informed, powerful decision about who you offer your time, money, and attention to.⁠⠀

If you’re an entrepreneur, download this free 10-day class to help you audit your own business practices, so that you can:⁠⠀

  1. Bake justice into your business practices and marketing (and flourish while you do that)⁠⠀
  2. Make sure you’re creating the social and client impact you intended⁠⠀


FLEB Tactic #8: 

Safe, Status Quo Imagery⁠⠀

FLEBs use safe imagery that’s easy to consume because it aligns with social roles & expectations:⁠⠀

STATUS. The people in the photos will have socially desirable bodies/identities. (No fat people. No wheelchairs. Etc.)⁠⠀

POSITIVITY. Quote cards will be platitudes that make us feel comfortable⁠⠀

APOLITICAL. If they do quote revolutionaries, it’s for cool points, without any political context (Ivanka Trump’s brand used to quote WOC and civil rights icons all.the.time)⁠⠀

INHUMAN. Many of their photos won’t even contain humans, at all. They’ll be still-lifes of pristine desks & countertops. (Pesky humans disrupt perfection and the design!)⁠⠀

WEAPONIZED IMPERFECTION. FLEBS display apparent imperfection against a backdrop of perfect, expensive homes/lives. Their “imperfection” is a vehicle for highlighting backdrops of wealth/privilege/status because that’s what builds their authority⁠⠀


Instead of creating safe status-quo imagery, create brave culture-making imagery⁠⠀

Ask yourself: what are the visual norms in my industry? Then interrupt them in your photo. ⁠⠀

What is the female lifestyle empowerment brand (FLEB)

and why is it a problem?


  • Conform to the cultural demands of Ideal Femininity in order to rise
  • Reinforces gender dualist/binary


  • Display wealth, privilege & leisure in order to manufacture social authority over other women


  • Use the language of feminism & social change to bait a women into following/buying… while doing (oppressive) business as usual.
  • Conflates individual success with collective empowerment (they are not the same thing)


  • Teach women how to style themselves as saleable, consumable objects in order to ‘succeed’
  • Asks us to erase ourselves in order to perform a brand character

Ask yourself: What Would Frida Kahlo Do? She made lush, vibrant and gorgeous self-portraits AND she included counter-cultural, “non-pretty” details like her hospital bandages, scars, unibrow and moustache. #WWFKD⁠⠀

This is good culture-making AND can be GREAT marketing. In a sea of safe FLEB-y photos, brave imagery that’s NOT easy to consume *will* get attention. ⁠⠀

And that’s the point of marketing in the first place! ⁠⠀


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