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


Instead of ‘rebranding’ feminism, ELLE should embrace feminism as we know it

Feminism, is often a subject that I feel that I need to tiptoe very carefully around. I am almost certain I do not stand alone on this front either. On the one hand I believe that it should be a given that a girl or a woman has feminist sympathies but on the other hand, I despise the stigma that comes along with calling myself a ‘feminist’ ..you know the usual stereotype of an angry, man-hating woman. So, after hearing that Elle magazine are launching a campaign to ‘rebrand’ feminism I thought, great! However, doubling back on this, I have to ask, is feminism something that actually needs rebranding after all?

Rebranding feminism and giving it a more attractive and appealing image seems extremely trivial in the face of the issues of equality that it stands for. Surely, softening up an image, that stands for a cause that, let’s face it, does not need softened, surely this will be harmful to the entire cause at large given that we do not live in an essentially equal society as of yet? It is naive to think that ‘rebranding’ feminism and making it more attractive to the nation, will immediately wipe out or even replace all preconceived stereotypes of man hating anger. If anything it will simply undermine the progress that has been made throughout the history of feminism. It is not something that can be given a makeover through a bit of a fleeting, weak and somewhat flat campaign of girl power.

Perhaps instead of attempting to give feminism a ‘rebranding’ Elle should celebrate and embrace feminism as we know it. Rebranding it recognises that we should pay heed to feminism’s stereotypes and allow them to shush us into submission. I have been told that the things that are worth doing are never going to be easy and if we look throughout the history of feminism, adversity has been there from the beginning – a ‘rebrand’ isn’t going to make this disappear. So, perhaps it should be realised that feminism is going to face adversity no matter what and that adversity should be taken in our stride because it is, in the long run, going toward the greater good of women’s rights. The stereotypes seem trivial at best when the very crux of feminism, women’s rights, is remembered as the very heart of what it stands for.