I don't have a television, don't take public transport every day, and don't read many magazines. I manage to bypass a lot of advertising that reaches people through the traditional channels of regular ad breaks on TV, and posters and billboards on the tube. There's a huge amount of advertising online though, which I can't escape on my computer and phone. I try to skim over a lot of it, but naturally some of it still stands out.
I was pretty surprised to see a 'suggested post' on Facebook this evening that advertised a razor marketed at women with the slogan 'Liberate Your Legs' and accompanied by the hashtag slogan 'Ditch Your Tights'. I haven't experienced hair removal adverts since I stopped watching TV 6 years ago, so I found it very weird that their copywriting and overall approach hasn't changed much over the last 10 years.
Although the razor in question was now blue, it was still photographed on a glossy, bubblegum pink background. The brand's subdivision is called 'Wilkinson Sword Women', together with its slogan 'Liberate' and sub-site 'wilkinsonsword.co.uk/female' lending connotations of strength and power. Free yourself! Be a strong Female, and join with us other sword-wielding Women!
The 'Hydro Silk' subtext further underlines the glossiness of this ad campaign. 'Ditch Your Tights' I find pretty horrid because it immediately suggests that you should only be going bare-legged if you've shaved. It's also pretty weird when you consider that November in the Northern Hemisphere is not really the ideal climate for bare legs. So where are you going around with bare legs? Probably in intimate situations; but why should you feel ashamed?
Well, it's in the interest of companies like Wilkinson Sword to promote positive associations of hair removal so that they can sell razors. Smoothness and silkiness transfer from the imagery of the advert to the skin on your body. This ad offers a free sample razor, but obviously the promotional campaign aims at future brand loyalty. It's free, so what's stopping you? Get smooth legs! You'll never be able to take your tights off otherwise!
Facebook treats its ads like a public forum, so naturally I had to reply to them. (See the image above.)
Of course, I have no idea why Facebook thought that this was an appropriate post to 'suggest' to me. I know that the site monitors its users, so how could it have failed to miss all of the LGBTQ-friendly, gender-queer empowering, pro-feminist (etc) events that I've shown interest in as of late?
Luckily, unlike with adverts on the TV, public transport, and newspapers/magazines, Facebook actually allow you to respond to their choice of adverts. Though Facebook is definitely not an unproblematic phenomenon, I honestly do appreciate the level of interactivity that it still offers.
Hopefully this will allow me to continue living in my own little bubble of liberation for sometime longer, unplagued by ignorant and brain-washing adverts. And of course, the true liberation is both not being offended by my own body hair; and not allowing huge corporations to profit from giving me a negative self image. Power to that!