April 13, 2011

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Hi all – sorry for the radio silence over the last few days. I’ve been busy reading and thinking and trying to figure out where to take this conversation next. I’ve started doing formal interviews, too. This morning I interviewed a woman who has been working as an esthetician for 35 years. I’ll be offering up some of the best bits of that conversation in an upcoming post.

For now, I wanted to draw your attention to the wild world of YouTube — most significantly, to this commercial for a ‘bikini trimmer’. If you’ve got a quick moment, have a look at this:

This is a commercial that evidently ran on television in the United Kingdom (though I haven’t been able to discern exactly when). It has since enjoyed tremendous popularity here on the interweb.

It some ways, there’s nothing to say, right? It’s at once totally appalling and wonderfully hilarious.

I am particularly fascinated by how un-subtle it is:

I love that we start in a staid living room where our main character sits trapped between two bushy ferns, cuddling a particularly fluffy cat (be sure to note the shorn feline she’s holding in the final scene). She then bursts into the outside world (hair down and dressed in a flouncy skirt and bright pink topic) rarin’ to clip her topiary along with a collection of bubbly neighbours.

We then learn that “some bushes are really big” (black woman) and that “some gardens are mighty small” (asian woman) — but never fear, because “whatever shape your topiary, it’s easy to trim them all.”

In other words ladies: you can do whatever you like with your shrubbery, as long as you do something. Selling women on the idea that they should “never feel untidy” is pretty much at the crux of what I’m on about in this blog: that the unkempt woman is unacceptable. Buying the “Quattro for Women” bikini trimmer, however, oughta get you fixed right up.

(I love that one of the posted comments in response to this video is “This is the hint of? all hints to leave on your girlfriends (sic) facebook. lol” Ah, technology: facilitating communication between the sexes for, oh, a handful of years or so).

Oh- and while I’ve got your attention — the American market got a similar but more subtle ad. This one is for the “Schick Quattro Bikini Trim Style”. Have a look:

I love that they encourage us to “Free Our Skin” by buying their product — again, drawing a not-particularly-subtle link between consumption and freedom.

And obviously, women aren’t the only ones being honed in on by the consumption machine. I recently came across this little ditty aimed at (presumably young) men:

It’s interesting to compare how markets tap into male and female insecurities when it comes to intimate grooming. With women, the focus is on feeling tidy and together. With men, it’s about “making the tree look taller”.

More soon.





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