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This is an advertisement for women’s shaving razors by the shaving product company Venus by Gillette. The ad illustrates a sensual depiction of a clean shaven woman and markets the razor as a woman’s version of a man’s razor. In other words, this razor works the same as the men’s Gillette Fusion Power razor, but is designed for women’s shaving. The problem with this Venus Embrace advertisement is that it implies that the idealistic concept of a woman is that she is clean-shaven and hairless as well as insinuates that men’s shaving and women’s shaving are different. What does it even mean to “shave like a woman”? What is “the way a woman shaves”? This ad is problematic as it reinforces arbitrary gendered marketing: shaving is merely the action of trimming hairs from one’s body, but there doesn’t need to be different products for men and women for doing so. Shaving razors, whether they’re marketed towards men or women, do exactly the same thing. This ad should be meant to empower women, but instead it puts pressure on women to look a certain way and conform to society’s standards for the desirable female trait of hairlessness. Gendered advertising often projects unrealistic standards of beauty and perfection which encourages women to set unattainable goals. What if a woman doesn’t want to shave? What if she wants to embrace her natural body hair? Hegemonic gendered advertising says that women must be hairless to be attractive, but what about the women who choose not to remove a natural part of their body? With this attitude in mind, the women who choose to deviate from this social norm potentially face ridicule, judgment and bullying for not conforming. Unshaven women can often be thought of as unhygienic or unkempt even though men who do not shave their body hair are less likely to be thought of this way. This advertisement aggressively reinforces segregated gendered social norms through subtle wording and leaves little room for the acceptance of deviants.
In my alteration of the original Venus Embrace ad, I changed the word “Embrace” to “Oppressed” to show the irony behind an advertisement that tries to empower women but instead does the exact opposite. By doing this I am revealing the pressure that gendered advertising puts on women by persuading them to follow an ideal image of women. Venus almost tries to market their gendered razor by telling their customers to embrace their womanhood through clean shaven bodies by instead promotes the idea that women can only be beautiful if they are hairless. I also changed “You’re a woman. Shave like one,” to “You’re a woman. Act like one,” because the advertisement is essentially saying that a woman needs to act and look a certain way to be defined as a woman. It is insinuating than an unshaven woman is less womanly than a shaven one and more specifically, that if you’re a woman, you must shave a certain way. Lastly, I changed the last paragraph that said “The Venus Embrace has the same blades as Gillette Fusion Power, but it’s designed for the way a woman shaves,” to “The Venus Embrace wants you to conform to society’s standards for women. Women are more attractive without hair.” This more explicitly states the true intention and meaning behind the advertisement where women are expected to buy a product to execute a certain socially constructed behaviour just because other women are doing it. By using these alterations, I wanted to reveal the truthful intentions of this marketing scheme by showing what message they are really sending to women.