Look, you know and I know that women have vaginas. Those of us who aren’t currently at Comic-Con also know that sometimes womens’ vaginas are, to put it nicely, odoriferous or gnarly. (For the record: men’s ugly bits are just as often repugnant, but for some reason there aren’t entire product lines to fixing that problem.)
But, really, must we get so graphic on TV about problems down there? First it was the horrid women’s razor ad about “trimming the hedges” (YouTube link). Maybe you’ve seen it? A pretty young blond sings about how, when she’s feeling a little blue, her favorite thing to do is “mow the lawn”. In solidarity, perky young women exclaim that some bushes are really big (wink), some gardens are really small (another wink), and whatever shape your ‘topiary’ is in, “it’s easy to trim them all”. Funny stuff… unless you happen to be sitting next to a pre-pubescent boy who asks “Mom, what are they talking about? I thought this was a razor commercial.” (Solution: spill hot coffee on yourself as a distraction. It works!)
Now Summer’s Eve is taking the same tack, and this time it’s ruffling some feathers. Why? Well, it’s not just the not-so-subtle images in their ad (see, upper left). This time, it’s because the ad is supposedly playing into racial stereotypes:
The black hand explains to African American women that you spend a lot of time on the hair on your head, why neglect the hair down there while showing the drawing of a cactus. (Okay, I’ve lost my African American readers, let’s move on.) The Hispanic hand starts off by saying “Aye, Aye, Aye” and then in a heavily accented voice mentions the “trashing the tacky leopard thong” — need I say more? (Hasta luego Hispanic readers) The Caucasian hand starts off by welcoming viewers with a hearty “Hello from Vagina Land”.
Except, sadly, when it comes to pushing products for down there, this racism is nothing new. That bush-trimming razor commercial? It’s a black woman who sings about really big bushes, while a petite Asian woman sings about her ‘small garden’. But, while clearly playing to racial stereotypes, the razor commercial was also so preposterous, so over-the-top and campy, that the racism didn’t really jump out. So consumers ignored it, while absorbing the message that sad or depressed women need only spend some time trimming, mowing and cutting their pubes to turn their lives around.
Frankly, I find the Summer’s Eve commercial repugnant on a number of levels, not the least of which its insidious racial stereotyping. So I’m glad it’s causing uproar and generating consumer anger, which will hopefully stop this slew of vaginal-related ads before I find myself having to pour an entire pot of coffee on myself to distract my kid from a commercial for double dildos.