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For my culture jam assignment I chose an advertisement for the Gillette branded “Venus Embrace” razors. Corporations such as Gillette, are problematic in the way that body image is manipulated and used as a tool for targeted advertising. The messages shared through their branding and advertisements are influential in the manipulation of social views, which ultimately impact the wider societal construction of beauty. This advertisement in particular, exemplifies beauty standards placed on how female body hair should be kept, and presents that through the sale of their razors.
This advertisement is clearly aimed towards women with the caption “You’re a woman. Shave like one”- but, what does that even mean? This ad answers that question with the depiction of femininity shown through the close up image of long slender, smoothly shaved legs. These legs centred in the frame display the gender normative expectation that women should maintain smoothly shaven legs to achieve a certain standard of beauty within society. Consumers within capitalist society are manipulated into buying not only a razor, but also this concept of femininity and beauty that is achieved through shaving ones legs silky smooth.
The caption in this advertisement is especially troublesome because it does not provide any room for other shaving preferences. Shaving body hair is a personal choice for all individuals. The statement presented in this advertisement is matter-of-fact, and aggressive in the assumption that if someone identifies as a woman, they must “shave like one”. It is not a woman’s duty to shave their legs, it is an individual choice that should be respected and accepted among all media platforms. That being said, corporations such as Gillette should acknowledge the choice and do their part in creating a supportive society where women boast both hairy legs or smooth ones!
The aim of my jam was to diminish the expectation that because “you’re a woman” you need to “shave like one”. By modifying the statement and adding the phrase “or don’t!” at the end, I hope to create a more accepting advertisement that acknowledges the choice that comes alongside body hair maintenance. Additionally, the presentation of hair on the legs was included to show off that hairy legs are natural, and should be included conceptually into the societal idea of beauty. Corporations such as Gillette should be critiqued by consumers in their construction of body images used to manipulate consumers into buying into a greater concept of “beauty” through their products. In this case, the display of smooth legs within widespread advertising creates and condones a certain standard for what legs should look like and what constitutes as feminine. Ultimately, these societal standards are very influential in determining what most women feel they should and should not do with their bodies.
Body hair colour, quality, and quantity does vary among individuals, but despite the natural occurrence of these differences, they are rarely seen in advertising. Media influences society to make choices that ultimately result in certain standards for body hair such that it becomes a point of self-consciousness for many individuals. Advertising should reflect these differences and be accepting of different body types, the different hair that can grow, and the choices people make about their own bodies.
With this jam I hope to encourage inclusivity and acceptance for all choices that people make regarding the hair on their body- especially women (as the target for the original advertisement). As well, I hope to challenge the standard expectations and gender norms that come alongside body hair maintenance. I additionally intend for this jam to make people realize how influential media can be in the creation of body standards. Again, It is a personal choice, and I hope individuals realize that. Whether one shaves their legs, or lets the hair grow it is important for individuals to act on their own accord and do what is most comfortable to them.