The Internet is already upset.
There are ways of selling your product to women.
This is not one of them.
Veet’s new ad campaign (“Don’t Risk Dudeness”) revolves around the concept that If A Woman Has Body Hair At All, she’s no woman at all. Not a lot of body hair is required to take away her right to call herself a lady. The slightest prickle will do it. And once Dudeness seizes her, people will flee at the sight of her. Taxis will shrink from her at the sight of her armpit hair. Business professionals — including emergency responders and nail salon technicians — will cringe and Pass Remarks. She is not a woman but a Hideous Beast — a Dude, rampaging over the open moors and emitting a throaty howl into the night.
Because she shaved her legs YESTERDAY.
Well may you weep and mourn and tear your clothes. No, wait! Do not tear your clothes if you have the slightest hint or possibility or suspicion of hair anywhere on your person. We might SEE! We might never be able to look at you the same way again! No shaving! Only waxing — with Veet! Let the fear creep through and consume you.
In the time it took you to read that last paragraph, your legs got a fraction of an inch hairier, and you lost the name of Woman. I was amazed to learn from Veet’s new ad campaign that there are no women at all in large swaths of Europe.
This one is probably the worst of the batch, although the others give it a run for its money.
As Kate Dries points out at Jezebel, the implication of this (A Man Doesn’t Wake Up In A Bed Where There Is Another Man Unless There Has Been A Horrible Mistake) is more than a bit homophobic.
Do you seriously want to try this, Veet? Do you seriously want to insist that shaving is not good enough, that women will be hounded from cabs and shunned at salons and generally pilloried and cast out and marked with scarlet DUDEs on their bodices — unless they buy your product?
I am not one of those people who roves around with under-arm hair streaming in the wind, growling, “WHAT? THEY DO THIS IN EUROPE!” any time someone shoots me a baffled stare, knitting myself a tasteful angora from my thick glossy coat of leg hair.
But this ad almost makes me want to.
Look, the subtext of most commercials for products like this has always been clear: Our norm, as a society, is that men have body hair, and women don’t. Women shave their legs. Men wear Axe. Beyond that, it’s unclear.
In general, I subscribe to the Lindy West school of It’s Your Body Hair, Do What Makes You Feel Most Comfortable And/Or Attractive. There is no right way. Shave your legs every day. Shave them twice a week. Shave only up to your knee, baffling anyone who comes into contact with your thigh area. Consult your partner — or don’t! You do you.
But there is a wrong way to go about it, and this is it.
It is one thing to suspect that advertisers have your body image at their mercy. It is another thing for them to wildly, vastly, infinitive-splittingly overplay their hand like this.
Does Veet really think they have so much control over how women see ourselves that they can suddenly, on their own, increase the Femininity Tax — those minute inconveniences you incur in order to meet our society’s standard of female beauty? Shaving, make-up, heels, hair products — ladies do them, we even enjoy them, but we are led to believe that they’re a little less than optional. It’s the subtext of every ad.
But it’s never quite so blatant as this. And once it’s made explicit, it’s laughable. That’s not how being a woman works. You can’t mandate this. Take your strange wax and get out of here.
“I shaved yesterday!” says the ad character, apologetically. Well, I shaved yesterday too. And, Veet, after that ad? I intend to keep shaving.