If Veet is to be believed, there's nothing more terrifying to a straight dude than touching a moderately hairy leg.
The hair removal brand has come out with a new ad campaign, which, in an amazing confluence of lazy sexism, mild homophobia and general lack of creativity, warns women not to "risk dudeness" with their prickly, hairy legs. (Oh, the horror of a post-shave stubble!)
The spots, which were posted on YouTube (and have now been removed -- scroll down for update), feature a beautiful woman who spontaneously turns into a hairy man while: (1) waking up in bed with her boyfriend, (2) getting a pedicure, (3) hailing a taxi and (4) receiving emergency medical care. In every situation, those around said woman -- from her significant other to her would-be cab driver -- are horrified to discover that she has body hair.
- Having any body hair automatically makes you a man.
- Removing said body hair automatically makes you a woman.
- If you don't remove your body hair each and every day, you will look like Zach Galifianakis.
- Straight dudes are very, very scared of leg hair.
- A taxi driver will probably refuse to give you a ride if you have body hair.
- Dudes waking up in bed with other dudes is gross and/or fodder for bad comedy.
- Your pedicurist reserves the right to openly ridicule you if you have leg hair.
- There's nothing more hilarious than a man in a dress.
- You should probably resist emergency medical care if you have hairy legs.
- Body hair is something all women should be ashamed of, unless they want their gender card revoked.
As Roo Ciambriello at AdWeek put it: "Telling women that they're less womanly if they miss a spot shaving their legs in the shower, or if they're part of an entire sect of women who choose not to shave at all, is closed-minded. And shame is a weird marketing tool."
So, Veet, we will not be ashamed that adult women grow body hair. We will shave or not shave or wax or not wax or chemically remove or not chemically remove whatever patches of that hair we choose. And for the love of all things good, please stop trying to shame us into buying terrible-smelling, root-destroying cream.
* * *
UPDATE: 4/9/14 -- After facing significant backlash, Veet has decided to pull the spots. (Jezebel has saved three of them for posterity if you'd like to watch them.)
On the Veet Facebook page, the U.S. marketing team has posted a statement responding to the widespread criticism of this campaign:
Hi…this is the Veet marketing team in the US. We just wanted to let everyone know, we get it – we're women too. This idea came from women who told us that at the first hint of stubble, they felt like "dudes." It was really simple and funny, we thought. To be honest, the 3 of us could really relate to these real-life moments and they made us laugh. Not everyone appreciated our sense of humor. We know that women define femininity in different ways. Veet helps those who choose to stay smooth. Our intention was never, ever, to offend anyone, so we decided to rethink our campaign and remove those clips. Thank you for letting us know how you feel.