The Vagenda

How To Get Close To Your Man

It’s November, and besides burning effigies of anarchic Catholics on a bonfire, this means one thing to me as a twentysomething woman in the UK. Apart from the occasional trip to a swimming pool (made even more infrequent after a blonde-hair-turned-green incident two years ago), sex with someone new and/or especially judgmental, or some sort of British impossibility like an incongruously warm winter’s day, ‘shaving my legs’ as an activity can go fuck itself. I might still tolerate a bit of razor burn under my arms for the sake of social acceptance on the tube, but stubble on my legs is so out this A/W 2012. I’ll be rocking all my summer skirts in black tights and loving it. And you know what? The company who makes my razors just found out.

Yep, I reckon I’m not the only girl who throws caution to the wind, leg-wise, during the colder months. And as my leg hair roasts by an open fire throughout December, the hand-wringing meanies in Gillette Towers are getting angrier and angrier. They’d just socialised me into being so ashamed of my own body hair that I’d rather pretend I was taking a huge pre-sex dump than admit to the one-night-stander in my bedroom that I’d gone to shave my legs, and now I’m all let’s take a break until June. I wouldn’t claim to be so incredibly hairy and/or important that that would make a direct impact on the Gillette sales, but as I said, I’m not alone. I know a lot of other women who hang up their hirsute swords in November. How the hell can Gillette compete with the idea that once our woolly hosiery comes out the ‘jumper drawer’, we just couldn’t really give a shit?

So, this brings us to the new Gillette campaign: a reminder that if you don’t shave you might not be able to ‘get close to your man.’ This doesn’t mean close in terms of mere proximity, as one confused tweeter asked – because if your body hair is growing at such rates as to provide a palpable barrier between you and other human beings, I think we could all forgive you a winter shave or two. Presumably, it means a certain kind of physically close (sexually, in case you weren’t catching on), but it also carries heavy implications that it means mentally closer. On the website, you take a quiz about how to ‘use your personality’ to get close to your one and only. You choose ‘zen’, ‘sensual’, ‘adventurous’, ‘romantic’ or ‘natural’, and then get told that there’s nothing more *insert personality type here* than ‘touchably smooth legs.’ Besides the fact that I’m pretty sure ‘touchably’ isn’t a word, what happens if you’re so adventurous that you’ve been sleeping in a hammock in the Amazonian rainforest for the past six months? What if you’re so zen that you and your boyfriend have joined a naturist reserve where everyone celebrates their own natural states, literally warts and all? What if you’re so romantic with each other that he actually doesn’t care that much about whether you have hairy ankles under the 20-tog duvet or not?

Following on from the ‘personality test’, you can check ‘how close am I to my man?’ with a few relationship-based questions on the website. The idea is that you answer a prefix (‘sensuality to me means…’) with a picture of different activities or states of mind. Surprise, surprise, question number three is ‘My smooth legs make me feel…’ and none of them are bored people with massive tubs of counteracting moisturiser placed beside their bumpy legs as it snows outside the bathroom window. Of course, each sexy gal is in some gloriously happy state of mind (one is at a boxercise class, demonstrating that her liberation from ladyfur has made her totes fierce) and one is literally jumping in the air with the joy of a close shave. Entertainingly, the final question takes into account that some people just might not have used their Venus Embrace properly, as its ‘When he caresses my legs…’ offers flowers, satin, silk, etc, and, as an afterthought, a big scary cactus. Worryingly, question four seems to feature a couple’s tiff where the woman is holding back a man’s clenched fist and yelling at him. Seems a bit, er, horrendously dark for a razor ad.

Obviously, I took the test. My absolutely verbatim relationship advice was: ‘You are already close with your man. Make sure he can’t resist by making sure you have silky smooth legs.’ And of course, I’d be interested and astounded to find that anyone else taking the test got a different answer.

So, that’s it for me and the new Gillette Venus Embrace, then. Guess it’s back to keeping my yeti hairs under control with a kitchen knife (I’m ‘adventurous’ like that.) And incidentally, the original Venus, pre-Gillette, which you may or may not know as the Roman goddess of love, was one sassy sea-dwelling lady who knew her own mind. Would she be telling you to get closer to your man through the power of shaving in November? Would she heck. She’d be like, float off on your own clam shell of empowerment, girl, and if a Gillette salesperson comes past aboard a cruise ship of oppression, just cover up your hairy pins with your long red hair. She wouldn’t stand for this shit. And neither should you.

21 thoughts on “How To Get Close To Your Man

  1. I got – “Your natural personality will attract him but make sure you have touchably smooth legs so you can get really close.”

    I never knew my reluctance to suffer from shaving rash and in-grown hairs posed such a danger to my marriage!

  2. Snap, did you also pick the pictures of the calm and contented couples? I was thinking that this implied commitment, friendship and deep intimacy, but since I was given advice as to how I could get ‘really close’ as well presumably the sexy-time pictures epitomised that true intimacy we all so desperately need(but due to our lady-growth are sadly lacking).

    I also went through a second time selecting all the sad/bad relationship pictures (but my legs were like silk :P ) I was told to ‘treat’ my legs in the morning, then to wear sexy things under my clothes all day, my sensuality would be sure to shine through and repair that abusive relationship.

    This campaign is…beyond insulting, they deserve a little shame!

  3. Wow, this is just plain offensive. As a single teenage girl living in Norway, I rarely shave my legs in winter. It’s cold, and nobody will see my hairy legs, so I’m okay. Sometimes I do it just because I feel like it, though :)

  4. When Ben Elton (remember him?) was cutting edge in the 80s he did this brilliant flight of fancy on his TV programme about all the brainpower and resources (and in those days,trees)that went into producing absolutely crap and fatuous advertising material, which could instead be used for something worthwhile. It is desperate to think that there are people out there who are paid good money to come up with this insulting tosh, and even sadder that they think it’s an honourable way to earn a living.

  5. This is both insulting and hilarious! Do they think this will do them any favours? It’s like a 1940 ad without the charming style. It reminds me of that awful film ‘What women want’, where Mel Gibson dons a bra and nail varnish and shaves his legs, so he can write a better ad campaign.
    Ugh Gilette please fire whoever okayed this and hire someone with brains.

    I don’t shave during the Winter either, now and then my boyfriend grumbles, I tell him to fuck off and shave his own legs, this usually straightens him out.

    • Yes it reminds me of those adverts with a drawing of solemn lookin woman waiting for her husband to come home. Only to be informed by the advert that he’s shagging the security and it’s her fault because she smells.

  6. Gillette’s groundbreaking ‘Get closer to your man’ advice (having picked ‘Natural’)…

    ‘Wear a short cotton dress. This is purity and simplicity at its most naturally sensual.’ (why is a cotton dress ‘pure’? Why does it have to be short? Why don’t I just become the ultimate ‘naturally sensual’ woman by going around naked?)

    ‘You are a goddess and the art of getting closer is nature’s gift to you. Follow your senses.’ (literally means nothing.)

    And my personal favourite: ‘Adding a little blusher to the tops of your feet gives you a back-from-the-beach look.’ (I’m sorry, what? WHO IS DOING THIS?)

  7. Is it me or have they now removed this campaign?

    On a related note – I’m astonished that advertisers still seem to be thoroughly convinced that one of the best strategies for selling anything to women is linking it – however esoterically – to the seduction/possession/gratification of ‘a Man’.

  8. We don’t need any EXCUSES for NOT removing our naturally-occurring body hair; whether it is visible or not. You can swim every day, wear whatever you like, sleep with whoever you like, and really shouldn’t then have to explain ‘why’ you have hairy underarms/legs etc. I look forward to the day when women who do shave are asked ‘why?’, rather than the opposite.

    P.S. I’d also love to see how they figure out a way to market hair removal products in a way that isn’t at least slightly sexist or reliant on gender stereotypes. What else have they got? (Maybe this is part of the reason I never went into advertising).

  9. I too have taken the winter fuzz route, although admittedly this can be a year round fuzz depending on how much effort I
    Want to put it. I did however notice a few stray hairs poking through my 40 deniers recently. Maybe Gillette could stick that in their quiz.

  10. For the first time since I hit puberty I’m leaving my underarms alone. Except for washing and deodorising. I leave my legs alone every Winter anyway, but razors have ruined them. I have a permanent razor rash on both of them, well, I can’t really call it a rash as it doesn’t itch but it looks terrible. I’ll save a fortune in the 7 months I don’t buy blades.

  11. I had a particularly unmemorable one-night-stand recently. I’d been back from holiday for a couple of weeks and before I left I’d had my legs waxed, for the first time in my entire life, and figured that five weeks of post-wax growth would probably be fine. Actually to be honest I didn’t “figure” anything, I didn’t even let the thought cross my mind that it would be a problem. As it was, whilst I know that I can feel the stubble creeping through myself, he didn’t say a word. Either he didn’t notice – likely, we were both wasted – or he genuinely didn’t care, since there were more important things to pay attention to. I like to hope it was the second one. I can also say that I have never panic-shaved my legs in a similar situation prior to this and I hope I never do!

  12. “This doesn’t mean close in terms of mere proximity, as one confused tweeter asked – because if your body hair is growing at such rates as to provide a palpable barrier between you and other human beings, I think we could all forgive you a winter shave or two”

    Oh, so *that’s* what was really going on in Sleeping Beauty with the thicket of thorns bit! I feel so stupid for never having realised it before!

  13. At the beginning there’s a suggestion that you kinda sorta obviously shave your legs for swimming – WHY? Just because someone might see your legs doesn’t mean they will instantly recoil, the only people that care are judgmental & superficial (male and female alike)

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