A propos of shame- and fear-based advertising: this amusing article in Slate recounts Misogynist Advertising Ploys Through the Ages.You already know all about that megatheocorporatocratic tactic of ladycontrol, the one wherein it invents ladyproblems that can only be fixed by the toxic ladyproducts it sells, so this piece won’t be blowing your mind so much as taking you for a little saunter down Ladymemory Lane. But what could be more entertaining than revisiting the fabled Lysol douche of yore, the invention of halitosis, and the horror of “intimate odor” of your “most girl part”?
The phrase “often a bridesmaid but never a bride” was made famous by Listerine ads. In one 1925 image, a woman reads another woman’s wedding announcement with a troubled expression on her face. “Her case was really a pathetic one,” the copy intones, describing the woman as nowhere near marriage “as her birthdays crept gradually toward that tragic thirty mark.” The culprit? Halitosis, of course.
The article also contains a deeply satisfying indictment of the supremely misogynist, Ditwuss Award-winning Dove company, to which company I raise my glass of All-Purpose Raw Vegetable Slurry and cry “Go fuck yourself!” We hadn’t been made aware of it down at Spinster HQ (too much butt-dancing, I suppose), but apparently Dove has recently invented a brand-new beauty problem. Their brilliant addition to the Canon of Feminine Deficiencies That Can Be Solved By Greasy Ointments? Fugly (quoth Slate) pits.
Dove recently unveiled its latest campaign, and it hinges on the idea that your armpits are ugly. Dove Ultimate Go Sleeveless is supposed to give women “softer, smoother underarms in just five days”—in ads for the product, which Stephen Colbert calls a “breakthrough shame-o-vation,” women cut the sleeves off their tops with joyful expressions, as if they’ve been liberated from a terrible scourge. If it’s news to you that this part of your body is not so hot, Dove says you’re in the minority, citing a survey in which 93 percent of women said they “think their underarms are unattractive.” And if you doubt statistics culled from 534 women in an anonymous online poll, rest assured that Dove’s best advertising efforts will be directed at making those numbers true.
Once your softer, smoother Dove armpits have liberated you from the vile tyranny of sleeves, maybe you can creep out into public again, and maybe say something out loud.
There’s a slideshow, too. From which I swiped the Massengill photo.
Thanks, Bobby and Antoinette