Why is Veet Striving To Make Unnatural Natural?

Veet, the popular hair removal brand, has stirred up a great deal of controversy following the airing of its most recent advertisement in North America. The uproar surrounding the “don’t risk dudeness” ad is that it reinforces gender stereotypes by implying that having body hair is something inherently male. However, the very fact that Veet as a product exists is because that, shock horror, women have body hair too. The sooner this is accepted, as opposed to incessantly concealed, the better. Why is something we cannot help depicted as abhorrent and unnatural in society?

In the ad, which has now been taken down from the internet, a woman forgets to shave and is thus transformed into a man and ostracised from society. It conveys hair removal as a constant struggle, and that women must be hyper-aware of the fact that the beauty regime is vital to their acceptance. Of course we needn’t worry because Veet is apparently our saviour, promising to keep us “womanly around the clock.”

These parameters used to define “womanly” are narrow-minded because they succeed in alienating women who do not strive to be hairless demi-goddesses on a daily basis. There are a lot more pressing issues in women’s lives that do not revolve around being hairless, therefore it is neither realistic nor practical of Veet to suggest that women will be cast off from society if they do not pay vigorous attention to their body hair regime. It also sends the message that men are in a privileged position because they are unquestionably accepted into society in spite of their body hair, whereas one of the women in Veet’s ad is so helpless she cannot even hail a taxi by herself.

The polarised notion that individuals fit comfortably into only two categories, feminine or masculine, is against the very nature of individuality. However, the pervasive nature of the media has unfortunately resulted in the acceptance of this very idea. Arguably, it is only a bit of lighthearted humour; Veet themselves have even stated how “while the current advertising campaign for Veet running in the USA has been well received by most consumers who appreciate its wacky, tongue in cheek humour, it has also provoked a great deal of comment.” Nonetheless, the influence of the media, especially in regard to permeating personal ideals and opinion, is often more powerful than most of us would like to admit.

While it is very easy to trivialise the whole issue by accepting that, well, it is just hair, it is also a matter of confidence for many women. Many feel incredibly insecure without shaving, so to have this collective insecurity exploited is quite despicable. The Independent’s Orla Tinsley describes here how the ad is ‘misogynistically driven’ and a ‘narrow minded idea of gender construction.’ Indeed, the social media backlash which Veet has already received is encouraging; it shows that women are not passively accepting this unrealistic yet seemingly imperative image. That said, it remains a matter of personal choice as to whether women wish to remove body hair or not. It should not be perceived as something solely masculine because the bottom line is that it is not, and it would be delusional to believe so. It goes against the hard facts of reality.

Hair removal is not absolutely imperative. What is imperative though is Veet ensuring that they make money. And to make their money by subtly but assuredly shaming women is undoubtedly even more shameful on their part.

As published on studentjournals.co.uk April 18 2014


Does Religion Still Have a Part To Play in Politics?

The laws regarding the purchase of alcohol at Easter grasped Northern Ireland for five days. Five days in which the personal choice was made on behalf of the population as to what times they could and couldn’t purchase alcohol during a subjectively holy time of year. For those who are not religious these laws made little sense especially during the Spring break, when many like to unwind before summer exam time kicks off. With seemingly more people railing against these laws than embracing them, it’s clear that this isn’t just about alcohol consumption being inhibited; it begs the bigger question of whether religion really has a place within politics.
Northern Ireland, and by extension the rest of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland, are connected to the Church through tradition which has been handed down to us from one generation to the next, from a time when the Church had more power than the State. The steady divorce of Church and State throughout the generations is simply a signalling of modernity and of a steady move toward a more liberal, open minded society. Living in a society whose history is so immersed with the influence of religion and with Christianity of some denomination instilled into the consciousness of the majority, it is very easy to feel guilty about being a non-believer. This particularly rings true recently given David Cameron’s recent announcement of being “evangelical”. Describing how “People who advocate some sort of secular neutrality fail to grasp the consequences of that neutrality”, it becomes insinuated that those who do not have an investment in religion seem to have something to be guilty about and portrayed almost as being dangerous, as opposed to having their own personal views respected.
Why is there this double standard and why does Christianity still maintain a level of authority in a nation which is not only increasingly non-religious but also increasingly diverse in terms of religion with many people of other faiths living in the UK and Ireland? As it stands, just over a third of people in Britain believe religion has a positive role to play society and according to the 2013 British Social Attitudes Survey, forty-eight per cent of respondents stated they did not belong to a religion. Aside from this one in twenty British people are Muslim and there are almost a million British hindus. Why would anyone want their country governed by a leader whose policies are influenced by his faith? Religious faith is something completely personal and it’s fruitless to impose that on others.
Having Church and State separate does not undermine Christianity, it simply recognises that society is more diverse than having one religion dictate over other religions and beliefs. Having Church and State separate promotes equality as opposed to an esteemed religion and way of life over-ruling others. Yes, faith may give people a ‘moral code’ as Cameron has said but that doesn’t immediately cast off everyone else lacking morals. Simply because a person does not subscribe to a religion does not make them completely bereft of a sense of right and wrong. UK and Irish laws may be built upon the foundations of Christianity but you do not need to have read the Bible to have a sense of what is right and what is wrong. ​