Hello, I’m Bertie. This column is basically a place for me to call bullshit on girl related stuff that I think is dumb.
Hey, have you seen the new Gillette advert? The one in which Kate Upton declares (in not so many words) that she'd never be attracted to an ungroomed man. If you're naive like me, you may have thought that the ad – in which three young, glossy women confide that they prefer their male bodies various shades of hairless – might herald a new dawn. I thought maybe we had finally entered an era in which men were made to feel as ashamed of their naturally occurring body hair as women have been for decades. It wouldn't have been ideal, but it would have been better to share the shame around, right? Think of the follically liberated bonding we could have done over it.
Unfortunately, the ad doesn't do much to tear the spotlight away from your poor stubbly genitals (please don't shave them, ever). It may not come as much of a shock to you, because it's Gillette's job to sell razors and make shit tons of money rather than to project gender equality, but I was still disappointed. I thought maybe Gillette had finally realised that men and women were inherently equal beings – that we are all just fleshy bags with a bit of petty cash and a string of meaningless relationships for corporations to exploit for profit. Sadly, capitalism is yet to eclipse sexism, Gillette's razors haven't castrated the patriarchy and my optimistic smile has been replaced by an intensely furrowed brow that will no doubt make a plastic surgeon very happy one day.
The advert, which hinges on the "desires" of three glamorous, peach coloured women with hair down to their ankles, revolves around the new-fangled concept that men should be hairless in order for women to want to have sex with them. Immediately, we lose our hopes of equality: body hair, according to Gillette, is unequivocally a female issue, regardless of where it's been ripped from. If men have to know the pain, discomfort and inconvenience of ridding their bodies of it, it is because women will refuse to have sex with them if they don't.
The advert is narrated by a weird guy I don't recognise who waltzes around a lavish pool party in a knockoff Tom Ford suit refusing to let the women he encounters speak more than a few words each. Poor Hannah isn't even permitted more than a wink while "smoothest guy on the planet" dictates her male fantasy ("a guy with a smooth stomach, to show off his six-pack").
Meanwhile, Genesis (lol) jiggles at the camera as the narrator informs us she "likes men completely hairless – and no, she doesn't think that's weird." "I don't," Genesis is permitted to confirm, after shaking her head, raising her eyebrows and looking the camera lens up and down in a manner that suggests she's a little shy, but still totally DTF. Her completely two-dimensional aggressive sexuality is actually one of the more disturbing things about this advert, but let's press on, there's more to see.
Oh yeah, duh, if you didn't already realise that the advert was objectifying women, it also features Kate Upton. Kate Upton's great, it's just that her presence confirms Gillette are drawing on associations of women and body hair to sell their product to men. Rather than having a man talking about his experience (like all of the female shaving products ads) they instead decided to use a young woman who's been sexualised by the media to (silently) argue its necessity. "You need this because you want to have sex with Kate Upton, don't you?" is very different to: "You need this because you are a woman and it is your duty to stay clean."
"The night is yours."
Still not convinced Gillette are objectifying women to sell their male grooming product? If you wait for the narrator to deliver the punchline ("The night is yours") and click the "Learn More" button beneath the YouTube video, you're immediately transported to a techy website for the "Gillette Fusion ProGlide Styler, the 3-in-1 facial hair styling tool". The minute you click onto the main site and the wide-eyed, lip-glossed women disappear, Gillette drop the body hair removal idea altogether and revert back to facial hair. It's a sham, basically.
In contrast, why don't we take a look at the Gillette adverts for female body hair removal products? The most obvious, Venus razor, promises to transform the lowly woman into a "Goddess" – the biblical language isn't lost on anyone, they're equating hairlessness with Godliness (which is weird, given that neither God nor Jesus look like the kind of guys who went to the barbers very often). Clearly, for women hairlessness remains a question of hygiene, beauty and status. For men, it's simply the extension of a sexual fantasy. Progress, my ass (and your hairy back).
Follow Bertie on Twitter: @bertiebrandes
Previously – A Whole Year of Pretty Girl Bullshit