An Open Letter to Veet Re: Their Awful New Ads

Dear Veet,

I was having a pretty good day so far. I got up after a good night’s sleep; I had some coffee; I got to watch and write about two amazing videos… and then I saw your new “Don’t Risk Dudeness” ad campaign, which promptly sent my good mood right out the window. Gee, thanks guys. That's just what I needed on this dreary, damp day.

One of the three ads that make up the campaign shows a man going from being totally in love with his girlfriend to being utterly disgusted by her and her leg stubble. Another depicts a nail artist shaking her head in disapproval at her pedicure customer’s slightly prickly calves. And yet another shows a cab driver refusing to accept a woman’s fare simply because her underarms weren’t immaculate. And the worst part is that, while all of these things would be bad enough on their own, you took it a step further by having the woman magically turn into a man the moment the other people around her noticed the state of her body hair.

Look. I understand that your product removes hair. I also understand that humorous advertisements are generally more memorable than non-humorous ones. Therefore, it would stand to reason that your ads would attempt to extoll the efficacy of your product in as entertaining a way as possible. But couldn’t you have done it in a way that isn’t so… fossilized?

Equating hair — or lack thereof — with gender identity is problematic at best, and deeply, deeply offensive at worst. Yes, a lot of women shave, wax, or use depilatory products like yours to remove their body hair; plenty, however, don’t. Choosing not to remove body hair doesn’t make a woman any less of a woman. It doesn’t mean she should be pitied, it doesn’t give anyone the right to discriminate against her, and it certainly doesn’t mean she should be shamed into doing something she doesn’t want to do. Painting body hair as embarrassing and implying that “real women” don’t have it only serves to enforce dangerous gender stereotypes and societally constructed beauty standards — which, I shouldn’t have to remind you, does absolutely no one any favors. At all.

And it goes both ways, too: True, most guys don’t remove their leg or underarm hair, but many do. Just as women who don’t remove their body hair aren’t any less “womanly” than those who do, men who do remove theirs are no less “manly” than those who don’t. Also, how on earth did it seem like a good idea to make a joke out of a man being repulsed by another man? Feeding homophobia isn’t helping gay rights; in fact, it’s actively harming it.

It’s true that in recent decades, we’ve come a long way in terms of gender equality and LGBT acceptance. But it’s also become apparent that we’ve still got a long way to go — something which, Veet, your ill-advised “Don’t Risk Dudeness” campaign sharply underlines. If the YouTube comments on these three ads are anything to go by, you’ve just lost yourself an awful lot of customers; I can only hope that if good sense doesn’t appeal to you, your business sense will. Let’s think it through a little more next time, yes?


Stubbly and Proud of It

Image: VeetUSA/YouTube