Recently I wrote about gender stereotyping around kids’ products following the hoo-ha around nine-year-old Grayson Bruce’s My Little Pony lunchbox. Grayson, if you’re reading this, I hope you’re using your colourful horsie lunchbox again, and I’m afraid that you’ll have to continue dealing with this rubbish until you grow up. And annoyingly, gender stereotyping carries on well into our adult lives. Just look at all of the tech products made in small, pink versions so that us little ladies can cope with them.
The latest gender-stereotyping ad to take the notions of equality, modernity and sensitivity and chuck them in the bin is by hair-removal dimwits Veet. They’ve just engaged in some classic and insulting fearmongery to hawk a few more products over in the States.
In order to make some hair-free dollars, they told their audience to wax or shave or “risk dudeness”. If you don’t look like a conventional woman, say Veet, you must look like a man, which is stupid to the point of odd. One scene showed a man waking up next to his lover, transformed into a man after not waxing. Both are horrified. Homophobia – tick! Then a taxi driver refuses to take a female passenger because she hasn't shaved. Is that the criteria these days? What a mission. I think I’ll stick to the bus.
The ad received acres of criticism on Veet’s Facebook page and their response was laced with recalcitrance. “Not everyone shares our sense of humour,” they sniffed, possibly whilst trying to hail a taxi with their smooth legs.
Veet, like much of the beauty industry, aren’t just reinforcing outdated standards for women. They’re missing a rather large point – that men get stuff done too. They just don’t tell anyone about it. Men get waxed and shave and even have laser hair removal. Some blokes are more sensitive about their body hair than some women I know. They also use make-up and face masks. Meanwhile many women are opting out of hair removal altogether. There are no gender boundaries when it comes to personal appearance these days. Veet, where did you hold your focus groups for your advert? The 1950s?
Beauty products should make us feel better, not worse. The sooner that the likes of Veet drop their outdated gender agenda, the better. They might want us to look like Barbie but they forget – Ken is just as smooth.