Shaming Women Into Adhering to Beauty Standards — This Time With Threats of Catastrophe!

Three things about this Wilkinson Sword Quattro commercial (sorry, not able to be embedded), which tells women that if they don’t shave their legs, terrible things will happen and the whole damn world is going to fall apart:

1. It’s women’s responsibility to the world to adhere to feminine beauty standards.

2. There is nothing that grosses out a guy more than the realization that women are not naturally hairless.  This is because all men are a) stupid and b) shallow pigs.  Really, they can’t help it, and it is not their fault.

3. Accordingly, note that the bus catastrophe is not the fault of the man, even though the woman repeatedly pushed his hand away from her leg and he was therefore engaging in non-consensual sexual behavior, however comparatively “mild.”  It is the fault of the woman for not constantly being prepared for men to force themselves on them.  Obviously.

As if those of us who do shave any parts of our bodies needed any more reason to not buy this brand of razors.  Easy target though they may be, I really hope that Sarah Haskins decides to take all of this recent bullshit on.

h/t Feministing

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71 comments for “Shaming Women Into Adhering to Beauty Standards — This Time With Threats of Catastrophe!

  1. April 6, 2009 at 11:33 am

    so, shave my legs in case some man wants to rape me? got it.

    this is absolutely disgusting. i’ve gone days or weeks without shaving my legs (especially in the winter–no one’s going to see it, and i live in wisconsin so i could use all the extra warmth–how’s that for an image??) and not once has my fiance recoiled in horror when he felt the stubble on my legs.

    i think the woman’s look of shame at the end is just awful. omg, i didn’t shave my legs and look what happened? fuck that. i’m tired of commercials telling me my body is ugly.

  2. Napalm Nacey
    April 6, 2009 at 11:38 am

    There is untold joy in screwing around with the ‘personalise’ function in that flash movie.

  3. April 6, 2009 at 11:39 am

    Um, you clearly have not read Steve Harvey’s enlightening tome “Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man” or you would know that men are always and only after the “cookie” and if a woman wants to retain her value at all, it is her job to keep it away from him, for a very long time. And nobody likes a hairy cookie.

    More enlightenment here.

  4. April 6, 2009 at 11:39 am

    heck, they’re arguing against their own product: hairy legs prevent rapes! clearly, if you desire to prevent sexual assault, the last thing you should do is shave.

    well, okay, schick, you’ve convinced me- no more shaving my legs!

  5. SweetSue
    April 6, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    And Oprah had Steve Harvey on her show to shill for his book.
    And she was slobbering all over him of course.

  6. April 6, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    dear wilkinson sword marketing people: here’s my hairy and very much unshaved fist, ready to shove up your collective asses. (note to literalist MRA’s: expression of anger, not a credible threat.)

  7. April 6, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    WTF! I had to mute the commercial because I’m at work, but her face at the end was really depressing. “Shit, if I had just shaved my legs. I didn’t know I was gonna be sexually assaulted! I should’ve been prepared for the guy I’m with to turn into a scumbag so as not to freak him out.”

    How can a guy not get offended by this commercial? It makes them seem so fucking dumb. They don’t need to keep using Everybody Loves Raymond as the [one thing] in the media that puts them down! Just look at this shit.

  8. Bunny Mazonas
    April 6, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    I emailed Wilkinson Sword.

    “I have just seen your advert for the Wilkinsons Sword Quattro, wherein a woman’s leg stubble causes a bus to crash.

    I find this advert extremely troubling, on multiple levels. Firstly, taking the obvious message – the woman in your advert does not decide to shave her legs because she likes the feel of smooth skin, or because she finds it comfortable, or because of a personal beauty choice. The ad proposes a woman should shave her legs out of shame and embarrassment at how TEH MENZ will react if she doesn’t. That image at the end, where she looks up, embarrassed, and shamefully covers her legs. This is not, in any way, a positive message to send to women.

    Secondly, the message that a woman should always be suitably attractive and adhere to mainstream culture’s beauty standards JUST IN CASE some one wants to enjoy her body. The fact that the woman in this ad keeps trying to stop the man – presumably her boyfriend – from touching her legs states that we must even appear sexy and perfect for people who want to enjoy our bodies against our will.

    The ad is also insulting to men. I mean, really, what man or boy over the age of 12 reacts to a little body hair with an “eeeurgh”, darting his hand away as if it burns? Most men I have been with honestly don’t care whether a woman is hairy or shaven, so long as she is clean, and those few I have met who do care tend to be extremely hypoctical regarding their own basic bodily grooming habits.

    I stopped shaving my body some months ago, but my partner does like to keep his facial hair trimmed – he favours a goattee. I take care of our toiletries budget, and suffice to say, I will be getting his razors from another company in the future.”

    Let’s see if I get any response from them.

  9. April 6, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    I personally love the “free your skin” message at the end. wake up, feminazi’s, they’re just trying to LIBERATE us! barf

  10. William
    April 6, 2009 at 1:33 pm

    And nobody likes a hairy cookie.

    Damn right, thats disgusting and unsanitary. What kind of hakery would sell a hairy cookie? How did the hair even get into the dough?

    …wait…we’re not talking about baked goods, are we?

  11. April 6, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    Between the “mow the lawn” commercial and this “film,” I find myself actually pining for the good ol’ days when razors just featured smooth-legged women frolicking on beaches and patios and whatnot. We should move for a full-on boycott of Schick/Wilkinson Sword.

  12. April 6, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    This ad inspired me to post a picture of my own hairy legs in hope of inciting world chaos.

  13. April 6, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    “And nobody likes a hairy cookie.” AhahahahahaaAAA! Loves it.

    See, the thing for me is that my hair is so fine and light that I only have to shave maybe 20% of the total surface area of my lower leg to be any-darker-than-clear hair free. But even those almost-clear, very fine, very short hairs on the rest of my leg? Well. I guarandamntee you if I regularly walked out of the house with those little hairs shining in the sunlight, there would be more than one person who looked askew and made a comment to their traveling companion about said hair.

    I mean, hair! Ew! Isn’t it so gross!

  14. UnFit
    April 6, 2009 at 3:12 pm

    Oh my. I’m not even particularly sensitive to commercials and stuff. Usually I just shrug them off. But this got to me from the first frame. “Did you shave your legs this morning?”
    Um, maybe. Did you, dear commercial texter, put on clean underwear? Brush your teeth? Wash behind your ears? Wouldn’t you find it horribly offensive and invasive if I asked you that, let alone with a raised index finger?

  15. David
    April 6, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    But it’s perfectly alright to tell men that we HAVE to shave our faces, and that we’re unattractive and unable to be viewed in public if we don’t, right?

  16. Ali
    April 6, 2009 at 3:37 pm

    David brought up an excellent point, WHAT ABOUT TEH MENZ???!?

    tell men that we HAVE to shave our faces, and that we’re unattractive and unable to be viewed in public if we don’t

    shit, guess I should send that memo on to a good chunk of the men who work in my office, along with my boyfriend and many of our friends.

  17. The Opoponax
    April 6, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    But it’s perfectly alright to tell men that we HAVE to shave our faces, and that we’re unattractive and unable to be viewed in public if we don’t, right?

    1. No. I know quite a few men with facial hair, including several that rock the sexy-sloppy 5 o’ clock shadow look. I’ve never told a single one of them that they were unattractive and/or unable to be viewed in public. Can’t speak for my fellow humorless feminists, of course.

    1a. I know of a few places of business which include being clean-shaven as part of a dress code. Considering that men’s facial hair is actually visible (and thus is a component of grooming in a way that a woman’s leg hair generally is not), there is a certain degree of logic to this. Totally fascist logic, but hey, you should have known what you were getting yourself into when you got that MBA.

    2. Unless I’m kissing you, it’s unlikely that I would even know whether you are particularly clean-shaven or not. And I try never to kiss men without their consent. If I were some kind of brazen makey-outey attacker, I probably wouldn’t be all indignant that the men I chose to assault weren’t clean shaven enough, either.

  18. Arkady
    April 6, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    David, a guy who doesn’t shave is just a guy with a beard. IMHO occasionally quite good looking (mmmm Aragorn). A woman who doesn’t shave is a hairy feminazi who must hate TEH MENZ…

    Body hair caused me a lot of issues as a teenager. Puberty wasn’t kind, and I ended up rather hairier than most (not much fun in the school changing rooms). Other girls got to wear skimpy tops and try to look nice when going out, if I wore similar clothes I got a night of paranoia and anxiety over whether or not I’d yanked out ever last abberant hair. Not to mention the scars from shaving, once took an area of skin off my ankle about 1cm in diameter, hurt like hell and the scar took about 2 years to fade. These days, having finally found some peace about how my body looks, I shave my lower legs in the summer, and my armpits all year round as anti-perspirant doesn’t work as well without it, but not much else. I still only wear low-cut tops on special occasions, as yanking the hairs out results in ingrown hairs and a lot of red splotchy skin irritation when they grow back (so best to just let it grow until the night before I want to go out).

    Heh, I usually just get the cheapest brand of single-blade disposable razors (better for longer hair), but will double check I’m not supporting a company that would produce an ad like that.

  19. W. Kiernan
    April 6, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    Sabine Hikel: …I find myself actually pining for the good ol’ days when razors just featured smooth-legged women frolicking on beaches and patios and whatnot.

    And I, who was a teenager in the late-60s, find myself pining for the good old, old days when the really cool girls didn’t shave their legs, underarms, etc., etc., at all. The “natural” girls were spared that huge, pointless, irritating, daily hassle, and of course all us long-haired hippie guys thought they looked absolutely lovely that way.

    Stupid fashion trends! No sooner do you get comfortable with one style than they try to make you adopt a completely opposite one.

    David: But it’s perfectly alright to tell men that we HAVE to shave our faces, and that we’re unattractive and unable to be viewed in public if we don’t, right?

    Well, it’s perfectly all right to tell me that, I’ll just laugh at you.

  20. The Opoponax
    April 6, 2009 at 4:19 pm

    I think a lot of the pressure re body hair during adolescence was shoved on everyone, regardless of how hairy you actually were. It’s a form of gender enforcement, not necessarily a reaction to anyone’s particular appearance. It also teaches us to obsess over our appearance to a minute degree – far beyond what a casual observer would ever notice, or what someone who really cared for us would ever take issue with.

    I remember the day I realized nobody could see the unibrow I’d worked myself into a tweezing frenzy over. One of the most liberating moments of my entire life.

    This, of course, is at the heart of what bugs me the most about this ad. If a hair grows on a leg and nobody notices, does it still mean I’m a disgusting monster who must be punished for the way my genes express themselves?

  21. April 6, 2009 at 4:21 pm

    there IS a social pressure, in some regions/circles, for men to be entirely cleanshaven, that facial hair (or more than very limited facial hair) is gross/unsanitary/unseemly. and yeah, that’s worth talking about because it does fit in an overall gender analysis.

    however, that is NOT comparable to what we’re talking about here. period.

    men can still be viewed as sexy, attractive, desirable with facial hair. women with leg hair — even the dreaded Invisible Stubble — don’t have that option at all.

    and more broadly, trying to refute ridiculous standards for women by saying “but there are standards for men!” is not only unproductive, it’s just stupid. you’re trying to say “yeah, you shouldn’t be talking about these standards at all” while hiding behind concern for someone else. and it’s so fucking transparent. we aren’t that dense, buddy boy.

  22. Bunny Mazonas
    April 6, 2009 at 4:33 pm

    Oh dear, David, you mean I’m supposed to be forcing men to shave their faces as well? Well, shit. But I LIKE hairy men…

    That, and I don’t presume the right to tell any man how he works his facial or body hair.

  23. April 6, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    it’s just stupid. you’re trying to say “yeah, you shouldn’t be talking about these standards at all” while hiding behind concern for someone else. and it’s so fucking transparent.

    Standards of grooming are so oppressive! Except for the ones for ladies.

  24. sophonisba
    April 6, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    Even if being clean-shaven were as universally expected for men as wearing pants, which it isn’t it would not be the same. It would not be close to being the same. Why? Because wearing a beard or moustache when no-one else does makes you come across as a rebel, a boring old hippie, a Civil War re-enactor, a Tom Selleck enthusiast, or hyper-manly, depending on your age and hair configuration.

    Meanwhile, not shaving your legs when everyone else does makes you come across as disgusting, ugly, dirty, unsexed, ridiculous, and sexually repulsive. (Supposedly.)

    Any guys who feel resentful about the shaving thing, you can see how these things are different, not in degree but in kind, right? Of course you can. Hair is a marker of adulthood in both sexes, but it’s coded male by cultural agreement, as are so many other things that connote adulthood. So a man who transgresses by being hairy is ultra-masculine, while a woman who transgresses by being hairy is…well, she doesn’t get called ultra-feminine, is she? It’s not symmetrical. It is very very much not the same.

  25. meggygurl
    April 6, 2009 at 5:08 pm

    My email to Quattro:

    “I have recently viewed your advert for the Wilkinsons Sword Quattro, in which a women’s leg hair causes the bus to crash.

    In viewing this commercial, I was utterly horrified at the multilayer messages your company were implying. Firstly, the women repeatedly moves her (boyfriend?)’s hand away, clearly not wanting his advances. When he does succeed in ignoring her protests and touches her leg, he jerks back as if he was burned. What grown man reacts so harshly to some simple leg stubble? I would like to believe that a man would not be so shallow as to let something so small horrify him so much.

    Also, in the end, the shame that the women is shown to feel, simply because she did not shave her legs that morning is sickening. It is a horrible message to send all women, especially younger girls.

    I have been a loyal customer of yours for many years now, and I feel as though I have no choice but to no longer use your product. I plan on expressing my concern to my many female friends who shave (and occasionally don’t, yet their husbands have yet to divorce them) and ask them to no longer buy your products as well.

    Thank you and I hope to see more mindful marking in the future. “

  26. April 6, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    The reason I think leg shaving is different is because men can not shave their legs and no one cares. If david thinks a bearded man has it bad he should see what women with ungroomed facial hair go through. The double standard is what makes beauty ideals sexist imo

    I see bearded dudes constantly on tv and movies without any particular signifigance attached to their beards…. the last time i saw ‘forbidden’ lady hair on tv everyone acted like they were going to barf when they saw it.

  27. Scarlett
    April 6, 2009 at 6:20 pm

    OK David… so let me get this straight, this does mean that the next time my fiancee comes near me with his goatee, I can legitimately freak out and cause a bus crash, right? And then will he sit there in the middle of the wreckage I’ve caused, looking embarrassed and shamed while an unknown third party sends him a nasty little text message to point out that it’s All His Fault for being so disgusting as to have hair growing on his face, yes? And then will someone make a TV ad about this so all the other menz can be aware of the terrible dangers of upsetting my delicate sensibilities with their horrible hairy faces of DOOM?

    Awesome! Oppressing teh menz is so much fun!

  28. ks
    April 6, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    That is just really, really offensive. And also stupid, because any man worth having isn’t bothered by a little bit (or even a lot, for that matter) or body hair because the woman he’s with forgot/didn’t want to/doesn’t care about shaving her legs that day.

  29. mrs. d
    April 6, 2009 at 7:47 pm

    I took a different tack. I email them saying,

    I was amused by the unwittingly feminst message of your commercial titled “Butterfly Effect.” Let that be a lesson to men who think that unwanted touching and sexual advances are harmless. Thank you for bringing to our attention how destructive such things can be.

  30. Jared
    April 6, 2009 at 7:55 pm

    Commercials like this are the reason I stopped watching TV live. If people believed what they saw on TV then we would all think that men were a bunch of beer drinking, powertool, car, and sex obsessed lunatics and all women cared about was cooking cleaning and vanity. The saddest thing is to many people do believe that this is the only way to be. I strive for a day where everyone strives to break free of the gender stereotypes that we put on people.

  31. evil_fizz
    April 6, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    The bitter irony to all of this is that the idea of a Robe Goldberg commercial in which someone causes a bus to crash (with no casualties or real damage to the bus, obviously) actually could be quite funny.

    Instead, it’s this pathologically misogynistic ad. Fail.

  32. April 6, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    “Did you shave your legs this morning?” As if women don’t have better things to do in the morning, like get ready for work. I mean, I shaved my legs this morning, but I don’t shave them every morning. I’m not a cyclist, for crying out loud. And if you let your leg hair grow out, it gets softer. The stubble and the short hairs are what’s scratchy. Eventually, it gets as soft as your arm hair and will stop growing. If I don’t shave for like a week and a half, my legs feel pretty damn soft, almost as soft as they feel after I shave.

    And like ks said, no partner that’s worth keeping around would care about a little hair on the legs, or anywhere else for that matter.

  33. preying mantis
    April 6, 2009 at 9:20 pm

    “Oh dear, David, you mean I’m supposed to be forcing men to shave their faces as well? Well, shit. But I LIKE hairy men…”

    It doesn’t matter what you like. If everybody doesn’t pitch in and do their part to police gender expression and enforce gender norms, society will crash, burn, and then slide into the sea. Do you want to turn this place into Canada?

  34. William
    April 6, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    But it’s perfectly alright to tell men that we HAVE to shave our faces, and that we’re unattractive and unable to be viewed in public if we don’t, right?

    I’ve got a full beard that is between two and three inches long around the chin and I work in a professional setting. This bear gives your trolling 0/10.

  35. Sophist FCD
    April 7, 2009 at 12:03 am

    WTF! I had to mute the commercial because I’m at work, but her face at the end was really depressing.

    I choose to interpret that as her being ashamed to be seen in public with an immature, grabby, WATB boyfriend. Isn’t the Death of the Author great?

  36. David
    April 7, 2009 at 12:48 am

    men can still be viewed as sexy, attractive, desirable with facial hair. women with leg hair — even the dreaded Invisible Stubble — don’t have that option at all.

    Well, what’s terribly attractive about hairy legs? That, and frankly, I’ve never heard too many claims about beards being attractive.

    If you aren’t male, don’t presume to speak for the male experience. If a male says “there is societal pressure on us to be perpetually clean-shaven”, you might want to actually accept that, instead of assuming that you know more than a male does about experiences that are male-only.

    If david thinks a bearded man has it bad he should see what women with ungroomed facial hair go through. The double standard is what makes beauty ideals sexist imo

    Hormonally, women don’t exactly *normally* grow visible or heavy facial hair. If you do, there might be something wrong with you. It’s not a “beauty standard” to assume women won’t have beards. That’s like saying being against men with huge breasts is a “beauty standard”.

    And also stupid, because any man worth having isn’t bothered by a little bit (or even a lot, for that matter) or body hair because the woman he’s with forgot/didn’t want to/doesn’t care about shaving her legs that day.

    Because no woman ever gets angry at a man for not shaving his face?

    I’ve got a full beard that is between two and three inches long around the chin and I work in a professional setting. This bear gives your trolling 0/10.

    Personal anecdotes are not legitimate examples.

    Do research on how many companies do not allow men to have facial hair. For another thing, when I used to watch television, the amount of men’s razor commercials beat females 10 to 1. Considering the nature of television commercials, one can safely assume this standard holds across the country.

    There are dozens upon dozens of commercials telling men we HAVE to shave. That pedophiles and “creepy” men have facial hair. That you’re dirty/uncultured/redneck/grizzled and weird if you have it.

    At the end of the day, we’ll receive a lot more notice, and negative attention, as unless you are wearing something that shows your legs, no one will know.

    If I leave the house without shaving, no matter what, someone will notice.

    I cannot even go into work with stubble. I have an electric razor in the bathroom for when I forget in the morning, or am running late.

    Seriously, just watch an evening of television one night. Tell me how many female razor commercials you see vs male.

    And remember, when you think it’s SO AWFUL to bring a razor across your legs, I have had to drag one across my face, every single morning for the last 18 years.

  37. April 7, 2009 at 2:44 am

    mrs. d, that’s an awesome email. I wish I were that witty. Do let us know what their response is.

  38. karak
    April 7, 2009 at 3:07 am

    This commercial is my nightmare for years, and I’ve had experiences like this with boyfriends who mercilessly mocked me for my hairiness.

    Thank you, television, for making my stomach churn and my eyes burn with the humiliation of being dragged out in front of my boyfriend’s friends or all the girls in gym class and being publicly shamed and disgraced. Nothing makes me want to buy your products like a sudden attack of self-loathing and depression.

    I have a new boyfriend now. He doesn’t give a fuck whether or not my legs are hairless.

  39. Rosa
    April 7, 2009 at 7:46 am

    Reminds me of a time in P.E when I was around 15. A boy dragged his hand down my leg and acted almost identically to the one in the advert before telling me loudly to shave. Sadly, no series of unfortunate events befell him or anyone else around me, it was just me who was left humiliated.

    Ironically, the boy in question was the hairiest 15 year old you’ll ever meet.

    Thank you, Wikinson’s, for reinforcing the culture of shame on girls for being genetically coded to grow hair, and legitimising the reactions of revulsion from men. It’s played for laughs, but the underlying message that women must try to be perfectly smoother 24/7 and that if we’re not we risk being humiliated by men is disturbing to say the least.

  40. Whatevermachine
    April 7, 2009 at 8:05 am

    Hey, David, there are absolutely NO media representations that I can think of of a woman with unshaven legs or armpits. That’s apparently repulsive, there are no female characters on TV without totally smooth legs at all times, unless they’re making a point of ridiculing it (I’m thinking of an episode of NCIS I recently saw where a male character likes a woman till he finds out she doesn’t shave, then he’s revolted by her). However, there are male characters with some facial hair, moustaches, beards, etc., stubble is even seen as sexy on some men.

    I think I’ll write to them, too. This ad disgusted me.

  41. The Opoponax
    April 7, 2009 at 8:45 am

    Well, what’s terribly attractive about hairy legs?

    [THE OPOPONAX falls off her chair laughing.}

    Really, David? Really?!

    So not only are you willing to come in here and assert that male facial hair is as universally reviled as female body hair (which is sorta like claiming the sky is chartreuse), you’re also going to underscore that by insisting that the mere existence of women’s body hair is inherently unattractive.

    So let me get this straight. Men are oppressed by the fact that full unkepmt Unabomber facial hair is not universally considered the hottest thing ever invented. However, women need to shut our traps about beauty standards even though the slightest hint of leg hair on a woman is “unattractive”.

    I thank any number of hypothetical deities every day that I don’t have to live in your world, David.

  42. The Opoponax
    April 7, 2009 at 9:04 am

    Hey, David, there are absolutely NO media representations that I can think of of a woman with unshaven legs or armpits.

    It’s worth mentioning that even in the commercial in question, the Evil Disgusting Monster Lady’s legs are not noticeably hairy at all. They appear to be perfectly smooth.

    The message is that failing to completely remove all body hair every single day is a violation against gender norms that threatens the very fabric of society.

  43. April 7, 2009 at 9:13 am

    However, there are male characters with some facial hair, moustaches, beards, etc., stubble is even seen as sexy on some men.

    Yeah, I mean, pretty much every celebrity I find attractive has the stubble going on. Those who don’t pretty much always have beards. I mean, all the characters on LOST . . . McDreamy . . . I could go on.

    In any case, though, David has been banned. Not only for managing to derail the thread by talking about Teh Menz, but also by saying that women who grow facial hair, which is totally 100% normal for a lot of women, must have some kind of hormonal imbalance and something terribly, terribly wrong with them.

    We’re not going to play around with any more shaming of women and their bodies here, mmmkay?

  44. Ali
    April 7, 2009 at 9:18 am

    My personal favorite part was “Personal anecdotes are not legitimate examples.” followed immediately by his own personal anectdote about what he saw on TV and how that obviously holds across the entire nation.

  45. chingona
    April 7, 2009 at 9:20 am

    The other difference between commercials for men’s razors and commercials for women’s razors is that most men’s razors commercials emphasize the performance of the razor – how sleek, how modern, how smooth the shave, how advanced the technology – and then they might throw in a little “and the ladies will love it!” at the end. Razors are advertised like cars or power tools. I can’t say no one has ever used shame to market a razor to men, but I suspect the general consensus at ad shops is that using shame to sell to men is a risky tack that might well back fire and is better avoided. The consensus for marketing to women is the opposite – that shaming us is the best way to get us to buy your product.

  46. Melanie
    April 7, 2009 at 10:00 am

    I think the girl not wanting the guy to touch her legs is supposed to indicate her ‘shame’ at being unshaved. Eesh. If any guy touching me reacted with an ‘uurgh’ like that guy did, he certainly wouldn’t be touching me again.

  47. ACG
    April 7, 2009 at 10:32 am

    Not that it really matters, but one more vote for male facial hair here – my boyfriend was once pulled aside at DragonCon purely so someone could tell him that he had a “bitchin’ goat.” And I do think it’s rather bitchin’.

    As for women’s body hair, I’m with Whatevermachine. When we see as many hairy legs and armpits – and not in a mocking way, Boost Mobile – on TV as we do Tom Sellecks, Sean Connerys, Matthew Foxes, Noah Wyles, Justin Timberlakes, Stings, and Brad Pitts (lo so reviled for their facial hairiness!), then I’ll stop griping about these ads.

  48. gexx
    April 7, 2009 at 10:36 am

    I would like to repeat a comment here that I found on another blog post about this commercial, which made me LO very L.

    “I think this is a very feiminist ad. Is it not obvious? The woman deliberately sharpened her leg hairs and applied stonefish venom to the tips. When the guy groped her legs against her will (she was pushing his hands away) he was forced to flee in excruciating pain, which serves him jolly well right.

    Any other interpretation would be simply ridiculous.”

    I agree

  49. April 7, 2009 at 10:55 am

    Thank you for banning David. I was about to have to take him to task for the whole “women don’t have facial hair unless there is something wrong with them” bit (whole generations of Italian, Eastern European, and Middle Eastern women were lined up in my head ready to smack him down) and the “hairy legs are just unattractive” bit (since the only MEN I have ever seen who have shaved their legs were the swimmers in my high school. Something about decreasing water resistance….). As far as I’m concerned, my husband’s facial hair is HIS business. I think he’s cuter with his full beard, but I appreciate being able to feel his upper lip when we kiss. *grin* I’m a lucky girl — he wears his beard in the winter for warmth, and shaves it off in the spring. But it’s really none of my business as to what he does with it.

    Personally, the only reason I ever shave my legs in the winter is because I teach/take dance classes and the long hairs getting pushed the wrong way by my unitard bothers me. Ouchy. :) I’m probably blond enough (leg hairs anyway) to go without shaving in the summer, too, but alas — I can’t get over that early conditioning THAT much. :( It seriously helps that I don’t have much hair on my thighs, though.

  50. Bagelsan
    April 7, 2009 at 12:56 pm

    Gexx, I *love* that interpretation! ^^

    And yeah, I was about to quote David for fail but then I wound up just repeating him verbatim…

    You’d better believe the female facial hair shaming starts YOUNG. My mom used to volunteer in my classroom when I was in elementary school, and she was *mortified* to be told by one 8 year old boy that she had a funny beard (for the record, I think she had maybe a couple chin hairs… kid must have been staring at her pretty intently…) Good job, 8 year old boy — you’re part of the patriarchy now!

  51. MarkusR
    April 7, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    The other night my wife trimmed me with her electric shaver. It was a bit erotic so I didn’t say no.

  52. AshKW
    April 7, 2009 at 1:59 pm

    Aw crap. Head, meet desk.

  53. Nik
    April 7, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    Sent to Wilkinson Sword:
    “I would just like to register my dismay at your recent “Butterfly Effect” advertising campaign. As a woman, and a woman who shaves at that, I feel that the message of this campaign perpetuates a patronising, cynical and thoroughly outdated idea that women must be perfectly presented and groomed for the sake of others in her vicinity, and that this has some inherent social value. It is rare that I would take offence from advertising. On this occasion, however, I feel that it is worth saying that using shame to sell grooming products is not desirable and no longer acceptable.

    Personally, I use Gillette. It isn’t that I find anything extraordinarily appealing about the women in glowing sarongs throwing themselves around in the advertising to the sounds of power pop, but the product works and the associated campaign is reasonably innocuous. I hope that the next time Wilkinson Sword is looking at advertising pitches, they hit on something with higher values, both for its production and its message.”

  54. Meg
    April 7, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    Shorter David:
    “If you’re not a man, you can’t know what it’s like to be a man. Now let me tell you what it’s like to be a woman…”

    I had no idea hairy legs were such an effective douchebag repellent. If anything, it makes me want to shave LESS. Commercial fail!

  55. William
    April 7, 2009 at 7:03 pm

    David, I have to wonder where exactly you’re getting your data. Sure, my personal anecdote doesn’t add up to The Truth™ but it does reflect the world I know. My wife works at a major corporation in an industry known for being conservative and they could give a shit about facial hair, I’ve gotten nothing but compliments for my own aggressive beard, the gay community has a fairly large subculture that practically revolves around facial hair, I have a 5:00 shadow by noon and no one has ever said boo to me about it anywhere, a good portion of the men I know wish they could grow beards but cannot. The reality is that, especially now, most formal contexts don’t comment on facial hair because there is the complication of religious allowances and standards of dress for men have been trending to the less restrictive for going on two decades.

    As for media representations, sure, I see a lot of ads for razors (I tend to use a women’s razor for the parts of my face I do shave because men’s razors aren’t generally robust enough, so I pay attention to both sets). Most of those ads tell me that I am unlovable if I do not have a cleanly shaven jaw line. My life experience tells me that I get more winks than terrified recoils looking like a viking than looking like a 10 year old. I’m pretty sure media representations tell me skirts are unmanly too, but I wear a kilt with pride and people can kiss my regimental ass if they have a problem with it.

    And, really, you’re lecturing women on how bad it was to HAVE to drag a razor across your face every day at 18? I was at that point at 14, by 17 I decided I wanted a goatee, and by 21 I’d moved on to the full beard. I never got fired, never got passed over for a job, and never really had my fee fees hurt by someone who didn’t like my facial topiary. You want to talk about the experience of being a man? Why don’t you explore the experience of being an adult first? And drop the oppression Olympics bullshit, its just pathetic. You get more of a pass on appearance than any woman and you could probably fight down most objections in most contexts, lecturing women because you don’t get more of a pass is faintly ridiculous.

  56. Liz
    April 7, 2009 at 7:05 pm

    Thanks to those who have typed intelligent replies to David. I just wanted to tell him to call a wahmbulance. But what the rest of you said was better.

  57. April 7, 2009 at 8:30 pm

    Once upon a time, I was in my senior year of college, fed up with shaving. So I just stopped. The first body part I gave up were my legs. I wore knee-length skirts, and I’m pretty sure some people noticed, but no one cared or commented. The second body part I gave up were the armpits. I still wore sleeveless shirts. And people DEFINITELY noticed.

    In January of that year, I started dating someone. I told him I didn’t shave my legs. He was surprised, and initially concerned that it would be a turnoff. When we started becoming physical, he was surprised what a non-issue it was.

    I’m still with that man, and I still don’t shave, and nobody gives a shit, and the sky definitely hasn’t fallen in. I’m a teacher, people occasionally see hair on my body, and then they move on.

    I’m grateful to be a million miles away from that hair-shaming stuff now. This commercial makes me think of seventh grade.

  58. Lawtears
    April 8, 2009 at 11:22 am

    I think it’s a crap ad. And I can’t believe it garners any sort of attention. However, the issue behind it is interesting. I personally don’t mind hair (I’m a guy), but I’m alone in this view, it seems. Even so, modern men are aware of some of the realities of life, like periods and body hair. Men that go ‘ick’ at the slightest growth are, mentally, virgins.

    And tbh, it’s women that perpetuate this attitude. If all women decided to go hairy tomorrow forever, men might grumble, but they would follow eventually.


  59. Sarah
    April 8, 2009 at 11:28 am

    Anyone who believes that ‘normal’ women don’t grow facial hair might want to think about who is buying all those tweezers and waxing kits marketed particularly for facial hair, and all the little tubs of bleaching and hair removal cream. Not to mention why women’s beauty salons routinely offer waxing/threading for facial hair.

    If facial hair on women was such a rare, freaky thing, you wouldn’t think there’d be such a market for these things.

  60. Ali
    April 8, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    No, it’s not women who perpetuate this attitude. It’s Patriarchy, and that includes both women and men. This shit doesn’t happen in a void and you better believe there are men out there who do police the body hair of women. If you bothered to read the thread you would know that, and also know that you are not “alone” in not minding hairy legs on women.

  61. April 8, 2009 at 1:58 pm

    Gee, in that second paragraph, Lawtears sure proves that he’s the enlightened kind of dude he makes himself out to be in the first paragraph! Don’cha think?

  62. preying mantis
    April 8, 2009 at 2:18 pm

    “And tbh, it’s women that perpetuate this attitude.”

    Man, is my step-father going to be shocked when he finds out he’s actually a chick.

  63. M.
    April 8, 2009 at 2:26 pm


    What? That’s why Clive Owen and Hugh Jackman and their ilk have 5 o’clock shadow in darn near every photoshoot and film they do. That’s why almost every male professor over age 40 I’ve met has a beard, and the ones under 40 have stubble. That’s why almost all the men I know in the Society for Creative Anachronism (which has thousands of members just in the U.S.) has a beard (granted, most of them have long hair, too–it’s a subculture). I see men with beards ALL OVER THE PLACE, EVERY SINGLE DAY. I live with one of them (I haven’t seen him cleanshaven in 4 years, and that was for a drag ball). There may be subcultures that frown upon beards, but there are a lot more that like them or don’t care, including mainstream society. Even the National Park Service, which has rules about appropriate fingernail length and glasses frame color, allows men to have trimmed beards.

    The only place I see women exposing their unshaven armpits is at home in my mirror or at the hippie coffeeshop. I don’t make a habit of checking for leg hair, but I bet it’s only slight more common (and I don’t expose my leg hair to public comment because people DO feel compelled to comment). The last time I saw female armpit hair in a movie was a movie version of the opera Carmen made a decade or so ago (and Julia Migenes is freaking gorgeous in it), and I suspect that if it were made today, even in France, she’d have been expected to shave.

    Yeah, it’s all about the pooooor oppressed menz.

    Also, I hate that commercial. But I think I may hate the lawn one more, because it’s so saccharine and augh giant clippers and since when is shaving one’s groin an exciting fun experience (in most contexts)? It is hard to decide!

  64. DarkestMaiden
    April 9, 2009 at 6:38 am

    This is unspeakable. I’m at least glad to know that all the boyfriends that I’ve personally picked in my lifetime have never freaked “UGH” out like a child whenever they felt stubble on my legs. I’ve shaved them. I don’t always, but I’ve shaved them… but there is no reason to have to. At the end of the day all females grow hair on their legs for a reason, it’s there to be there, and it can’t be called “un-feminine” to have hairy legs.

  65. pete nyc
    April 9, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    What an awful commercial…

    IF I find myself attracted to a woman, it’s the person themselves that I am attracted to. Who cares if there if there’s some hair on their legs? I mean…human beings have hair on their bodies. Wow, I’m so sick of marketers and corporations preying on (and creating) all these insecurities.

    And don’t even get me started on the whole “brazilian wax” trend. It’s just creepy. I don’t get it.

    Hair is natural fer goddsakes..
    Natural equals sexy.

  66. Angela
    May 12, 2009 at 9:58 am

    So I’m a bit late to be joining this thread, but what the heck.

    I definitely feel that shaving is a matter of one’s personal grooming choice. Our culture should not tell us that unshaven = BAD. I agree with what everyone (except David, for obvious reasons) has said. I have personally felt all sorts of shame about my leg and armpit hair thanks to the media, and only until I started to date my now husband did I realize that the damn world would not fall apart and vaporize if I didn’t shave every damn day. I do shave my underarms daily, mostly because I hate how it feels when the stubble rubs together, so its about my personal feeling, and not looks or my husband telling me I’m gross if I don’t shave. As for my legs? I don’t have the time to shave them every day. I get to them once every couple of weeks, and my husband has told me that it doesn’t matter. He says he can’t even feel the hair, see it, and he wouldn’t care if he could. The dude in this ad? Immature twit. A real man loves his woman regardless of her hair.

  67. La BellaDonna
    August 18, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    You know what? If men don’t like hair on women, let them go f^ck some other gender.

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