Everyone in the entire world, at any given moment, is trying to sell you something. Whether it be a new toaster, a new car, or a new lifestyle entirely, we are constantly consuming.
Actually, advertising is such a part of us that we probably don’t even know what is truth and what gimmick has been shoved down our throat enough times that it is now disguised as truth. Usually, we can’t tell the difference. But every now and then, the veil slips, and we get a glimpse.
I caught the briefest of peeks of the world beyond the billboards today.
It was a shaving cream commercial. Or maybe it was a razor commercial. At any rate, it was directed at women and their absolute primal need to have smooth legs, and it was the most ridiculous thing I had ever seen. The women in the advertisement were set up on a staircase and actually singing about how repulsive it was to have hairy legs. They illustrated this point by looking disgusted when there was a close-up shot of a couple of cacti that were supposed to represent the prickly feeling of not shaving.
Which I immediately took offense to. Cacti are one of the most resilient plants in the world, and they provide nutrients to inhabitants in one of the most severe climes: the desert. So, what if they’re spiky? Haven’t you ever heard of self-defense? Why should their appearance have anything to do with their worth? A better question: why should yours?
But of course, more importantly, the fact that a woman’s legs must resemble a baby’s bottom rather than a cacti is the primary concern that I have with this ad. The problem is that society is dictating what personal hygiene and beauty means for women. And we all know the real reason that shaving companies don’t want us to have hairy legs: we need to buy their product. They’re not really concerned with the image we have of ourselves. Just as long as it is hair-free.
Yet, if these companies really wanted to sell more of their product, why don’t they just tell us how much easier shaving with their razor and cream is? I don’t think women mind who touches their legs and feels prickliness. They certainly don’t mind going the entire winter season without taking a razor to their fur coat. (Go ahead. Poll the female audience. They will tell you that this is true. The ones who say it isn’t are lying.) What we all don’t like is how much a pain (literally and figuratively) it is to shave or wax your legs. And when it comes to the hierarchy of beauty rituals, shaving just isn’t at the top. No matter how loudly you are going to sing about it.
In the end, it does not matter what you do to make yourself feel beautiful. It also does not matter what someone else wants you to do with your body, even if they show you some ridiculously crafted metaphor (like a cactus) for how undesirable you will be if you do not follow their rules.
Actually, let’s not split hairs here. Their message is simple: you are not perfect as you are. My message to you? They’re wrong.