Those of a sensitive nature should look away now, as this post is one of an occasional series of rants, where I reflect on the never ending methods that the beauty industry/media/world use to get women to hate themselves even more. And buy stuff that we don’t really need to ‘correct’ ourselves.
The reason? Well, there is a bit of grumpiness at play, as I finally weighed myself yesterday after putting it off for at least a month. I will spare myself the shame of using actual numbers, but I can confirm that the damage is worse than originally thought, so it’s healthy eating for me for the forseeable. I hate the word diet, or worse, the euphemism ‘being good’ but that is what I am forced to do, lest the situation escalate any further. The plan is mainly to avoid all foods beginning with C: carbs, cake, crisps, cheese (okay maybe a bit of cheese), chocolate, chianti, chardonnay…you get the picture. I need to lose weight sharpish, or I will never make it round that race course in one piece. However, despite being a little miserable, I am feeling motivated, so I should manage to cope without killing anyone.
So, onto the other reason. Browsing through a copy of Marie Claire magazine the other day (why, WHY?), I came across a rather mysterious full page advert, with a cheesy picture of a woman’s face and veiled references to restoring your intimate pH balance. The question was asked, have you got sass? Then the hashtag #gotsass and website, which you have to look at to get more information. My feminist spidey-sense started twitching straight away and I was googling faster than you can say Millie-tant.
It’s all very pink and discreet on there. You don’t actually get upfront information, just constant references to inner harmony and intimate places, and the fact that women are apparently constantly worried about using water to clean their vaginas. Who knew? According to the ‘our story’ section, they wanted to create products that enable women to take on any challenge, whether it’s ‘climbing a mountain, or walking the kids to school’. The products include cleanser, freshness gel and serum, so you can not only do a three step programme on your face, you can do it on your fanjo. Best of all, there is an anytime freshness ‘spritz’ which made me think of one of those horrible plug-in air fresheners, that are timed to release fragrance into the air every five minutes. Perhaps in the future, scientists could come up with magic pants, where you press a button every time you feel a bit fishy.
The copy is all very modern, stressing empowerment for women, blah blah blah. After all, how can we break through the glass ceiling when we are always so worried about having a smelly fanny? Despite these references to women making choices (to smell, or not to smell? That is the question), I couldn’t help think of 1950’s style advertising such as this:
Or this, seemingly more female friendly one from the 1970’s. Sort it Jenny, you stinky bitch! I mean, does she really pong so badly that her friend needs to take her aside for a quiet word about it? Doubtful.
I wonder how far we have come in terms of women’s equality when I see ads for products like this in 2015. Why do women need to be sanitised at all times? Is the smell of our ‘intimate places’ really that offensive to the world at large? Maybe we need these products to keep the smell of womanliness out of the air, so that men can go about their daily business without fainting with desire. And while we’re at it, what about the other half of the planet? I have never, ever seen an advert, either in the past or present, that suggests that men need to spend £12 on a spray to stop their cocks smelling like cheese. Or a restorative serum, to make their lad more beautiful and shiny.
The things that grate the most in the advert are first of all, the suggestion that using these products can help you do things you never could before, such as going for it at the gym. Now I’ve made a lot of excuses for avoiding the gym in the past: too tired, too hormonal, too feckin’ lazy, but I’ve never been worried about whether it makes my lady garden smell less than fresh. In my experience, nothing of me smells that fresh after a workout, but that’s what showers are for. I just simply wash and go, to borrow from other advertising lingo.
The other thing that really pisses me off is the reference to medical conditions. Whether we like it or not, most of us are familiar with our natural smell. If something starts to smell a bit off, then what we need to do is get down to the doc or the STD clinic, to find out what’s wrong and get it treated pronto. Spraying our nethers with gynaecologist-approved air freshener won’t solve the problem. Perhaps I am being unsympathetic and there are women out there with lifelong conditions that make them pretty funky downstairs. I can understand how in those cases, products like these will give them the confidence to get on with their lives.
But for the rest of us, we shouldn’t feel ashamed of our natural odours, or feel pressurised into buying even more crap to weigh down our bathroom shelves with. As if we don’t have enough to worry about. Truly sassy women will stick two fingers up to this sort of nonsense. Or perhaps we will invent our own honest, pastel free products, that don’t pussy foot around our pussies, and do exactly what it says on the tin.
Until next time,