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This advertisement from Veet attempts to communicate that in order to be like and feel like a woman, they must remove their body hair. Instead of stating that hair regrowth is uncomfortable due to stubble, the ad suggests that it makes women feel and, presumably, look “like a dude”. The solution to this? Wax. Veet does not recommend avoiding shaving as an alternative to stubble, but instead proposes that women must seek a different form of hair removal. This propagates the idea that body hair is something unnatural or undesirable on women, which can lead to massive self doubt and a drop in self-confidence. The growth of body hair on women is a completely natural process that should not be shamed or compulsorily removed. The removal of body hair is an extremely personal choice and there is nothing with an individual who either chooses to keep it or remove it.
Unfortunately, the mental impact that this advertisement may have can also extend itself to its male audience. It suggests that men must have more body hair then women, which is not always the case. What happens when a man chooses to shave/wax his body hair? Does he ‘risk’ woman-ness? Ultimately, they are perpetuating societal ideals and gender constructs implemented by a culture that embraces the patriarchal values of gender. It is also quite interesting that the ad claims that it is a ‘risk’ to shave or to resemble a man. Is this really the worst thing that could happen? The ad also endorses a binary model of gender: You can either be a super smooth, stereotypically “feminine” woman or a ‘dude’. I am very curious as to how a Trans* individual would react to this ad, as it perpetuates a very rigid idea of femininity. Surely the world will not crash and burn if the defining line that separates the stereotypical gender binary is blurred a little bit.
Finally, Veet is endorsing a Westernized ideal that is able to become globally relevant, as the company itself sells its products internationally. Spreading this false ideal of femininity and masculinity is utterly problematic at best and deeply horrifying and harmful at worst.
*USED ‘TRANS’ AS AN UMBRELLA TERM; or an individual who defines their gender using any other term
In my alternative version of the ad, I changed ‘dudeness’ to ‘rudeness’ in an attempt to illustrate that policing someone else’s body hair is unacceptable. I wanted to maintain the flow that the original ad had employed, so I did my best to choose similar sounding words while also suggesting that the original message was deeply troubling. I taped out the original message regarding the ‘risk’ of stubble and added a blurb that states the actual risk (i.e. mental distress) that you run in imposing gender ideals that are possibly unattainable and unwanted. I also chose to emphasize that removing or keeping body hair is always a choice by including a ‘warning’ headline that claims that Veet’s products should only be used if desired. I also attempted to include a less problematic comedic idea than the one that Veet attempted to insert by suggesting that the individual waving in the photograph is actually waving goodbye to patriarchal ideals when they rid themselves of imposed gender constructs.
I think it is essential to incorporate choice into advertisements that involve the alteration of someone’s body. Simply stating that you must do X in order to belong to Y coerces individuals into adhering to societal norms, and creates the potential for a sort of cognitive dissonance. I wanted to underline that it is not necessary to conform with idealized conceptions of gender and that you should only change your body if you want to. I also wanted to stay away from using any gendered terms in order to be inclusive of all genders, so I refrained from using ‘women’ or ‘men’ in my revised ad.
Hopefully my jammed ad communicates the issues that are involved with endorsing societal norms in relation to people’s bodies, and advocates for the right to choose how you wish to look and feel.
Veet “Don’t Risk Dudeness” Digital image. KRMG. Cox Media Group, n.d. Web. 18 Oct. 2016. <http://www.krmg.com/photo/news/photos/veet-dont-risk-dudeness/pCBF8W/>.