The Gillette Venus #UseYourAnd Campaign Is Both Inspiring and Problematic

We all knew that once all those inspirational Dove ads became so popular, it was only a matter of time before every brand making products for women tried their hand at making inspirational ads of their own. And so let me introduce to you the Gillette Venus #UseYourAnd campaign. And while I do like this sort of approach better than trying to make women feel bad about themselves so they'll be more likely to "fix" themselves by using your product ... it's still advertising

The ad itself is actually pretty cool. The video consists of a diverse array of women playing sports, making music, even what looks like working with electronics, as a woman recites a spoken word poem about not limiting yourself and breaking out of the labels people assign to women.

"When someone labels you this or that," she says, "use your 'and' to take a stand." In other words, don't let people box you in with single labels. Always insist on being more than one thing. Which is actually a pretty cool message, one we need to hear more of.

And then they try to sell you a razor.

Really, this video is kind of a quintessential example of why advertising can't really be radical or transformative, and not just because their messages by definition are crafted to be more manipulative than sincere. But even in this video that tries to spread this radical message of embracing every aspect of you and reject limiting labels, they are still encouraging you to cave to the social pressure to shave your legs. I don't have anything against shaving your legs — I shave mine — but I also think it's inconsistent to urge women to embrace all parts of themselves except for aspects of our bodies that society doesn't like.

But hey, they tried. And it's a big improvement over other beauty ads out there.

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