The Evolution of the Starbucks Siren ~ In Honor of World Breastfeeding Week

Breasts exposed, round belly... she's a maternal image!

Breasts exposed, round belly... she's a maternal image!

If you do a Google search on the Starbucks Siren, there are other articles that have been written about this same phenomenon… the evolution from the nordic woodcutting that was the original Starbucks logo to the current, less exposed version.  But, being as it’s me, I’ve gotta throw my hat into the ring, too, and comment on how this might have affected the unpopularity of breastfeeding.

The original logo features an earthy looking Siren, with rounded belly and breasts exposed.  Strangely, a Christian group called for a boycott of Starbucks when they returned to  this logo with the launch of their Pike’s Place Blend last year.  “The Starbucks logo has a naked woman on it with her legs spread like a prostitute,” explains Mark Dice, founder of the group. “Need I say more? It’s extremely poor taste, and the company might as well call themselves, Slutbucks.”  Really? Slutbucks? First of all, Christians need to read this awesome book that is in the Bible called “The Song of Solomon”.  Breasts are an awesome part of God’s creation!  Second of all, this is obviously a mythological creature.  Her “legs” are not spread, she’s a Siren (like a mermaid): it’s her split tail that she is holding in each hand.  This is a symbol of her personal power and strength.  Her rounded belly could be a symbol of fecundity (fertility) or just that she’s a plump woman, and not ashamed of it. Finally, if you are really that weak of a Christian that a stylized logo offends you, you might as well go live somewhere in the world where you can isolate yourself from women entirely.  I recommend Afghanistan. I hear they have nice cave houses there.

When Starbucks merged with another company that featured a green logo, they morphed the images into the following.

Boobs now hidden

Boobs now hidden

Essentially, it is the same Siren, but now her breasts are hidden by her long hair.  Now, obviously, I’m not advocating for logos to incorporate exposed breasts, but I do think this is an interesting case of modesty.  For one thing, this is a mythical creature.  It would be different if this were a real-life model with real breasts.  But it’s based on a woodcarving, and yet her breasts are somehow inappropriate for use on a logo?

The Starbucks logo that most people are familiar with today has not only hidden the Siren’s breasts, but also her round belly, and her split tail is barely recognized as it frames her image.

No boobs, no belly

No boobs, no belly

As a lactivist, I find it fascinating that, as evidenced by the Starbucks logo’s evolution, breasts have become completely taboo in our culture UNLESS there is sexual intent behind their display.  For instance, a few years ago, a popular parenting magazine featured a cover with a baby looking adoringly up at its mother.  The baby was busy eating at the time, so, naturally, part of the mother’s breast was in the photograph.

No exposed nipple!

No exposed nipple!

This one, innocent, beautiful cover caused problems in grocery stores who began to either cover the front of the magazine, or completely pull it from their shelves because shoppers were OFFENDED by the photograph.  Wow.

The amazing thing about the breast is that God designed it as a dual purpose organ. Not only does it bring pleasure, as Solomon poeticizes, but it also brings nourishment and life to babies and children!  The last few times I’ve gone into the grocery store, I get as much boob exposure to celebrities on fashion magazines and gossip rags as there was on the BabyTalk photo… but those aren’t being pulled or covered, because the breasts are being exposed in socially appropriate ways, not disgusting, baby-caring ways.

Again, I’m not advocating for the display of breasts in advertising necessarily, but I do think it is important for breasts to be shown in a natural way, not always as a sexual object.  Breasts are practical and functional IN ADDITION TO being sexual.  But if we are only ever exposed to the sexual side, no wonder breastfeeding is seen as weird by many. Breastfeeding is normal and natural. Breasts are normal and natural. I miss the old Starbucks Siren and her big belly and proud breasts.  Can I get that in a Grande?


About daniellaindie

I'm Anthony’s wife, and mother to Jonathan, Hannah, Joshua, and Isabella. When not making PBJs and cleaning, I like to write, immerse myself in a good book, play my piano, or plan epic couponing trips.

Posted on August 4, 2009, in Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Good point Dani. (This is JP typing).
    It is a peculiar society we live in.

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