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You, yeah you! I expect more from you... I expect the best a man can be.

About six months ago a company called ‘billie’ released an ad for razors, directed at women. This was the first ever hair removal ad that showed women with body hair.

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Can you believe that?

The first ever. EVER!

Up until now we have been watching women shaving shaved legs! How ridiculous!

‘Billie’ is taking this opportunity to say ‘up yours’ to the status quo by depicting women as they are. Is this a foray into the world of politics? I think so. I think this is ‘billie’ saying, women have a voice. Women deserve to be portrayed honestly and without judgement. This ad is women telling women, ‘You can be a better and more honest version of yourself. You can do what you want! Shave. Don’t Shave. But if you want to shave, we’re here.’

 

Along with the rest of the YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter using world, I have been reading about the backlash to the new Gillette ad campaign. There were a lot of issues brought up surrounding this ad. I wanted to take a moment to talk about a few of them.

 

“Does anybody think that Gillette commercials are somehow or another, in any way shape or form, going to effect culture?” -Joe Rogan (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0JVmtaTVKPU)

 

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Up until the 1910s, razors were only used by men, and only used on their face. Around that time, women’s fashion was making some changes in sleeve length. They were getting shorter, and they were getting gone.

For the first time ever, women were showing their underarms in public.

A razor company, who felt they had reached their maximum in the market of men, decided to try and market their product to women. Short-sleeved shirts gave them the perfect opportunity.

In 1917, the first ad for underarm hair removal was put out by—you guessed it! Gillette.

Do I think Gillette commercials effect culture? My shaved armpits say they do! Without Gillette, women’s body hair removal would be a thing! And if you don’t think that had a huge effect on our culture, watch some porn and let’s talk about why hair removal for women is a multi-billion-dollar industry.  

 

“In less than two minutes you managed to alienate your biggest sales group for your products. Well done.” - Angry Viewer ( https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-46874617 )

 

Do you think Gillette didn’t consider alienating a significant percentage of men? I didn’t find numbers on this but I would assume from the way our society is set up, that women do a lot of the buying when it comes to household products.

Have any of the men who had their feelings hurt by this commercial thought, maybe this ad is for women too?

Maybe, just MAYBE, this commercial is directed at women who buy Gillette products for themselves and for the men in their lives... but no no, you’re probably right, it’s all about you.

 

“I don’t need a razor company to tell me how to be a man!” - Lots of hypocritical people

           

Funny, you didn’t seem to have a problem with it when the company was telling you, you needed to be an athlete or a businessman. You didn’t seem to mind when they said being a man was being a perfect father, straight, and white. You didn’t care when they said masculinity was a clean shave and a beautiful woman suggestively stroking your face.

 

“Michael Jordan’s statement that he did not want to engage in political commentary because “Republicans buy shoes too,” remains wise thinking.”  - Charles Taylor (https://www.forbes.com/sites/charlesrtaylor/2019/01/15/why-gillettes-new-ad-campaign-is-toxic/#3be1ecf65bc9)

           

I am willing to admit that at the time, the circumstances were a little different. In 1984/1985 Jordan had less influence. But in that year, he wore a shoe he wasn’t supposed to. Not a particularly political act, I’ll admit. Nike paid the fines from the league when he played in that shoe, but he eventually stopped wearing them.

 

Then he stood in a commercial advertising that shoe, thereby defying a governing body that was enforcing a rule that had no purpose but to show that they were in control… sounds political to me.

 

Though he wasn’t alienating anyone by that act, even saying you’re not getting into politics is getting into politics. “Republicans buy shoes too,” is basically saying I care more about money than the outcome of an election. Money, over what happens to minorities when a Cheeto gets elected president.

Slow clap for you MJ. Politics is unavoidable.  

 

“Another really important example of how this backfires, when you pander, is this story from last year ‘Pepsi Pulls Ad Accused of Trivializing Black Lives Matter’.” - Tim Pool (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9D-sHy7HH0E)

                                                           

No… I’m sorry Tim, this is not at all the same. Pepsi made a condensed version of (to quote the Avatar Honest Trailer) the recycled plots from Dances with Wolves, Pocahontas, The Last of the Mohicans,… Native American History, and Fern Gully. We have a white savior in one ad, and men telling men to be better versions of themselves in another.

Not the same.    

 

“It's more of an anti-White Men ad.” - An idiot in the YouTube comment section

           

Throughout this ad we see seven displays of positive imagery. They are as follows:

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A white woman comforting a white boy.

A black man saying ‘come on’ to a white man approaching a woman with the line ‘smile sweetie’.

A black man saying ‘not cool’ to a white man saying ‘wow, wow, wow,’ and attempting to follow a woman.

A white man breaking up a fight between two white boys.

A black man breaking up a fight between two black teenagers.

A black father encouraging his black daughter.

A white man breaking up a fight between two white boys.

 

For my count, that’s four displays of positive black imagery, and three displays of positive white imagery. I’m struggling to word this next part because some white men are having such a hard time understanding what’s happening in the world right now.

This is not anti-white. It’s just not all white. I get that that’s what your used to. And I get that it must be a challenge seeing the world you know change so quickly.

But ‘To the privileged, equality feels like oppression.’

To the white men who are defensive about this aspect of the commercial, please watch any movie ever with a more critical eye and tell me how the POC are portrayed. If you can find any…

 

Apparently, there have been calls for an apology video from P&G. I want you all to close your eyes and imagine a world where, for every ad that criticized a woman, there was an apology video.

Can you see it?

I can’t! Because there would be an apology video for every ad!

Cream ads tell us we’re old and make-up ads tell us we’re ugly. Yogurt ads tell me I’m fat and razor ads tell me I need a man to value me before society will. No wonder I have confidence issues.

 

Women are used to being criticized in advertisements. I guess men aren’t.

 

Some people are saying that Gillette shouldn’t get political. To them I say, everything is politics. Every dollar you spend, every logo you wear, every movie you see, and every click you make. Even when your mouse hovers over a link, you are engaging in political behavior by deciding what is important, and what deserves your attention.   

 

‘billie’ wants to show women as they are. All shapes, sizes, ethnicities, and degrees of hairiness. Gillette wants to show men as they are, able to shape and change the world around them through their actions.

 

Gillette thinks that men have the moral character to become better versions of themselves. The ad criticizes negative displays of masculinity, and praises positive ones. The ad is saying, the world needs men to be the best they can be. Not only to women, but to each other.

I see this positive masculinity in my father. I see it in my friends.

I hope it’s infectious.

 

Gillette is saying that men have endless potential to make the world a better place. That’s a lot of pressure. It’s hard when people expect more from you, especially when you don’t think you can step up to the challenge. Gillette believes you can, and so do I.

 

But if that’s too much, if you don’t think you can deal with the responsibility of that, then maybe you shouldn’t shave. Maybe your fragile male ego needs that extra layer of protection.

HannaH Sunley-Paisley