|| Print ||
|Written by Alexandra Trottier|
|Sunday, 02 December 2007 19:00|
I remember the first time I heard it, “Secret Deodorant. Strong like a woman.” Could it be? Had they actually given up their sexist mentality and entered the 21st century? I was exhilarated by the thought.
For those of you who have chosen to forget the degrading catch phrase, Secret Deodorant’s original slogan touted, “Strong Enough for a Man but Made for a Woman.”
Their new message of female empowerment brought a sense of integrity and strength to the product, just the kind that I had been looking for in an underarm protector. And so in entering my post-pubescent years, and being in much need of an antiperspirant myself, I set out to make Secret Deodorant my very own personal sweat stopper. Finally, I had found a product that represented women I could identify with – women who were strong and confidant…and who smelled springtime fresh!
Alas, my relationship with Secret would end abruptly in the fall of 2007 when, upon viewing a new commercial for the product, I realized that their seemingly feminist approach was but a mere illusion.
Now as much as I would prefer to shield you, poor reader, from the backward message of this unfortunate advertisement, I fear that full disclosure of its content is necessary for a true appreciation of just how Victorian this ad really is.
Our mini-drama is set against the romantic backdrop of a beautiful beach wedding. We have our famous players – the hunky “Ralph-Lauren-esque” groom, our heroine the charmingly beautiful bride in white, and of course the three unlucky “always a bridesmaid never a bride” single women. The ad goes on to show our protagonist happy as a clam, dancing the night away, arms fully extended upwards in the air, swaying to the music, not a care in the world. Why is she so confident you ask? Why it’s her antiperspirant of course – Secret Deodorant to the rescue! This product is what saved her from the hell that is single unmarried life and helped her nab that hunky groom. Cut to her bridesmaids, shy, sullen, embarrassed perhaps by their unpleasant aroma. They refuse to lift their arms even when – DEAR GOD NO! – the bride throws her bouquet and they miss their own chance to find happiness and love. Their downfall? They’re using the “other guys.” Our story ends with our bride riding off into the sunset waving goodbye to those poor single souls she has left behind. The obnoxious voice-over states:
“Now you can start living life instead of sweating it!”
The message of this ad is extremely convoluted. It uses words like “strong” and “confident” to describe modern women, while suggesting that the most a woman can accomplish with such characteristics, or what her top priority should be, is nabbing a man and turning him into a husband.
Why is it that in this day and age the media is still using the same tactics that were deemed acceptable in the 1950s? Have they not yet figured out that people are getting married at a much later age than ever? In 2003, in Canada (excluding Ontario), the average age of persons marrying for the first time (to someone of the opposite sex) was 30.6 years for men and 28.5 years for women. In 2002, in Canada (excluding Ontario), it was 30.4 years for men and 28.3 years for women. Marriage is not exactly a top priority for most people these days. It’s about time the media kept up and stopped trying to feed us the same gender expectations they did to our parents.
I no longer identify with the women presented by Secret Deodorant, or the majority of women represented in television commercials for that matter. This image of purity, of a bride all dressed in white, is not exactly the kind of ideal that I have set for myself. Who wants to be this image of perfection that no one can ever fulfill anyways; this flawless beauty with never a hair out of place, always brightly smiling, and who NEVER smells is unrecognizable amongst anyone in the real word. It certainly does not represent the kind of feminist ideology that I originally thought both Secret and myself believed in.
It is disappointing to know that Secret Deodorant’s ad campaign has failed once again to represent the changing gender ideologies in our society. By continually feeding us these patriarchal conventions, of women as the image of purity, how will the following generations escape the expected role of women as nothing more than wife and mother?
It is disheartening that I actually long for the days when Secret Deodorant promoted “Strong Enough for a Man but Made for a Woman”. At least then the company’s sexist attitudes were blatant and obvious. There was no questioning what hidden messages there were behind that slogan. Now we have entered a new age in media advertisements in which such sexist attitudes are carefully shielded by a superficial message of girl power. How can one contend with such shameless publicity stunts in a world in which most of us take media ads at face value? It is up to you, reader, to take a stand. Don’t stand idly by! Call Secret Deodorant, email or write! Tell them you refuse to be targeted by their regressive convictions. Tell them you refuse to have your gender continually promoted as nothing more than the patriarchal ideal of beauty, purity and perfection.
I am a woman! I am not perfect! I smell, and I am proud!