As apparently body hair is my bête noir, please allow me to share with you three FOUR recent commercials that dealt with the PHENOMENON that adults grow hair on their body on places other than their scalp and their perfectly arched eyebrows.
This first one is by Boost Mobile (via); the thesis of the commercial seems to be that their product is less “wrong” than others. The main character in the commercial says that her luxurious armpit is “not wrong”, but it’s ambiguous as to whether or not we are supposed to take that at face value (she’s right, body hair isn’t wrong!) or laugh at her (dude, her armpit hair’s three feet long! WTF?). In any case, insinuating that if women were to let their body hair grow, it would be even more rampant and uncontrollable than that of men is both idiotic* and does nothing to stop the perception that the only thing that stands between a woman and utter bestial hideousness is a Schick.
Speaking of which (via)…
This message is more overt – women need to trim their bushes, classily reimagined as…erm…bushes. Of course, in this commercial, one’s bush gets trimmed simply by flitting around in slow motion to crappy New Age music, as opposed to real life, which more usually involves many or all of the following:
- Hand mirrors
- Strained muscles that come from craning one’s neck and bending the arms and legs in unnatural positions to reach heretofore unexplored regions (“I didn’t know I had a freckle on my perineum!”)
- Nicks in VERY DELICATE places
- Ingrown hairs (inevitably)
- Ointment to avoid the ingrown hairs
- New razor blade(s) that are ruined by the time the job is done
- Itchy/scratchy/pokey feeling once the hair starts to grow back in (in about a day)
But don’t worry now! All that stuff that made shaving your crotch a royal pain in the ass** has been fixed, because now you won’t have to use a separate pair of scissors to trim your pubes down to a shaveable length first! Now you can do that IN THE SHOWER! Be sure to put on crappy New Age music, all right?
Also worth noting is 0:09, wherein we see that the black woman naturally had a bigger and more unruly crotch region…Really, Schick? Diversity FAIL.
I just found this one; it’s advertising the exact same product as the ad above, but instead of trimming your bush, now it’s “mowing the lawn”. And instead of Crappy New Age Music, now we have an overly perky jingle that’s bound to get stuck in my head and drive me insane. It’s interesting that the racial racist subtext from the video above gets even more explicit in this video:
- At 0:16, the black woman holds a huge pair of hedge clippers and says “some bushes are really big” (wink)
- At 0:20, an Asian woman holds a teeny pair of hedge clippers and opines “some gardens are really small”
- At 0:31, the same black woman is now trimming a hedge with…a chainsaw? Is that some kind of gardening tool? In any case, it’s the most heavy-duty tool we see in the whole commercial – I guess that’s because some bushes are really big (winks)
- Also worth noting is that after the Asian woman speaks, she covers her mouth and giggles, playing the stereotypical coy and demure Asian female, whereas the black woman winks at you and dances as is the Sassy Black Woman’s wont. FAIL.
The message in this one seems to: “Hey, you know how some gardeners are really uptight about their plots, and pull up the tiniest weed or branch that’s out of place? Why don’t you do that to your vulva!”*** I suppose we shouldn’t mention that gardeners and landscapers only pull out a small fraction of the things that grow, as their whole job is cultivating plants. If you cut down all the bushes, you’d have nothing left. But maybe the commercial is telling us that getting rid of all one’s body hair is silly. We should instead trim it into a neat rectangle, triangle, or other polygon – enough to require buying a Schick Quattro with Waterproof Bikini Trimmer, but not enough so that the landscaping metaphor falls apart and Schick is forced to come up with a new shtick.
And now – for my favorite of all the crappy body hair ads (of course by favorite, I mean “gives me the most material to blog about because it makes me want to stab a pillow”); via and Lauren in comments.
You see now, don’t you girls? If you don’t shave that leg stubble while wearing a skirt and your boyfriend/groper fails to rub you in the right direction (as one does with a shark), you WILL cause a bus accident. People will die, and you will gather your skirt around your legs in sadness and shame to hide your disgusting lower appendages
Some of my “favorite” (see above) things about this video?
- Any leg hair she actually has to be quite short, as it is both invisible**** and scratchy; as anyone who’s ever hung out with someone who shaved their anything knows, hair that is growing back in is more prickly than longer hair. So, invisible, couple-millimeter long leg hair is enough to cause a catastrophe. I guess that means we’ll have to buy more razors then, right? Waaiiit a minute…
- The main character’s boyfriend/makeout partner repeatedly tries to grope and grab her thigh, despite her protestations. Even assuming for the moment that leg hair = sudden death, why is it her fault that he felt her up against her wishes?*****And don’t we have a phrase for when someone gropes someone else without their consent, even if they’re in a relationship with that person? Oh, it’s on the tip of my tongue…is it pretzel salt? It’ll come to me. Moving on…
- Here we have the same slogan as in the two previous ads – “Free Your Skin?” Really? By “freeing”, do you mean “killing/getting rid of”, because that’s what happens to the first couple layers of cells. Or are we maybe freeing the ones underneath – the ones that had been living under the harsh yoke of keratin for too long, dammit! and have been dying to throw off their oppressors? How exactly is it freeing for me to spend lots of money on razors, razor blades, shave gels, moisturizers, and even small scissors (see above)? How is it freeing for me to spend 5-10 extra minutes in the shower bending my head so all the blood rushes to it, trying to prop my foot on the slick wall, making sure I didn’t miss a spot (and inevitably doing so anyway)? How is it freeing to run into the bathroom ten minutes before leaving for a party or date, frantically rasping a razor over the parts people are most likely to see? How is it freeing to cut off the tip of one’s finger with a razor, or to cut one’s leg so bad that it’s still scarred years later? How is it freeing to have a (seemingly) uneventful shave, only to find a huge bloody scab hours later on your calf? How is it freeing to get razor burn, or even better – to get folliculitis from razor burn? (Yup, I did that). How is it freeing to have to do the same thing all over again two or three days later to avoid feeling like a hairbrush? The only thing shaving frees women from is people freaking the hell out over leg hair for no good reason – which is, in and of itself, a good reason to shave (constant rebellion is exhausting and unrewarding), but not a good reason to reinforce the idea that “lack of depilation = antisocial heretic”.
- There’s another part to that video, that I haven’t been able to find in any of the YouTube versions. After the logo/razor thing flashes across the screen, we cut back to the original girl, who worriedly pulls her skirt down and fidgets. At this moment, someone texts her with “Hey, ever wish U just stayed home?!” She sighs and looks ashamed and embarrassed, looking down at her dress again – tacitly admitting her culpability or at least partial responsibility for the matter. Clearly, if you can’t bring yourself to shave off your invisible leg hair, you shouldn’t even be allowed to leave the house. Who knows how many motor vehicle accidents she’s already caused today? How many other would-be sexual assaulters were repelled by the disgusting fact that she grows hair in the same places they do?
Okay, now it’s time for the serious face. ‘Cause that look of embarrassment, that furtive attempt to cover oneself? I know that look. I know that move. I know what it’s like to walk extra-quickly down the hall on the way to the shower so as not to get strange looks from my hallmates about a hairy shin. I’ve seen potential paramours flinch when they see more than 0.5 cm of stubble, and I’ve given up hope that they would ever be attracted to me enough to want to date. I’ve shaved four inches around my ankle so that I could wear a long skirt for a performance, because I know that leg hair is “unprofessional” if women have it. The temerity of a woman who neglects or refuses to depilate her legs is something most people do not take lightly.
And even if it weren’t about leg hair – we all know that look of shame. As women, it is always Our Fault. Blaming women for being raped, for raising children that turned out to be unhealthy in some way, for being abused, for not leaving an abusive situation, for leaving an abusive situation (<— trigger warning; Shakesville post on the murder of 5 children by their father being blamed on the mother), for being too fat, for being too thin, for being too ugly/caring too little about our looks, for being too vain/caring too much about our looks, for being too frigid, for being too willing to exercise sexual agency – it’s always Something, and it’s Always. Our. Fault. It’s not enough, now, that our naturally hairy legs are disgusting and vile and gross men and other women out and we need to fix them – now we need to shave them so that if our creepy and douchey boyfriend****** tries to feel us up on the bus against our will, he doesn’t react to stubble like he would to a nest of fire ants and set off a Rube Goldbergian chain of events that eventually causes a bus crash.
Put that on the list o’crap, ladies – right between “sometimes women need to act dumb so that men don’t feel intimidated and lose their erections” and “it’s our duty to act as a gatekeeper for men’s sexual desires, as they are incapable of controlling themselves”. It’s in good company – I think I read somewhere that shit sticks to itself.
*Seriously. Is the idea that men generally have shorter scalp hair than women, so if women let their armpit hair grow, then it too would be three feet long? Do I need to post a funny picture to explain why that’s stupid?
**Logistically – I’m not even talking about ideologically here. Also? Pain in the ass? Rim shot.
*** Or, I suppose, the mons. But ‘vulva’ makes for better copy.
****As I mentioned in my last leg hair rant, you will never. Ever. See pictures or film footage of a woman with leg hair. Even on “Lost”, where they’re trapped on a creepy-ass desert island in the South Pacific and time-travelling with smoke monsters and atomic bombs, the women have their priorities straight and either shave or keep those unsightly gams tucked away where they belong.
*****She was probably asking for it in that skirt.
******Why are we going out with him, anyway? We deserve better. It’s probably our fault for not being able to get a better man.