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Last week a friend faxed me a copy of the advertisement designed by BBDO for the Shedd Aquarium's Frogs exhibit and the aquarium's weekly summer jazz series. This ad (top right) appeared in the June 17 issue of Advertising Age.

Your caption to the ad traces its design back to "Showgirls" by Joe Eszterhas, claiming that as its beginning. Hollywood's appropriation of this design is perhaps the most visible, but certainly does not represent its origin.

The ad directly copies the cover for the book entitled "The Body: Photographs of the Human Form." This cover was designed by Tenazas Design in San Francisco. The photograph is by Tono Stano, and originally portrays the entire figure.

By cropping the image through the center of the face, the photograph changes from a portrait to a nameless body. This objectification of the female body was in keeping with the content of the book. Clearly it is useful to others for different reasons.

I had no idea when I designed the book cover that it would be appropriated by such a diverse range of causes. The image is one of 300 images in the book, altered by the designer through cropping. I am disappointed to see the rehashing of old ideas. A good designer is able to reference existing ideas while making visible their own aesthetic sensibility.

For your interest and amusement, I am enclosing several generations of this design as it appears in other ads. I just want to set the record straight, as "Showgirls" was not the origin of this image. You never know where these things will end up once they are out in the world.

Lucille Tenazas

Tenazas Design

San Francisco

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