Always are just riding the crimson tide of the latest feminist wave and it’s pissing me off.
Everyone on Facebook is crying again.
What is it this week? Kony? Nope. Ultimately, we got rid of him and his evil deeds by crying and reblogging. Didn’t we? *tumbleweed blows by*
This week, it’s an advert for sanitary towels that’s getting everyone all emosh about gender equality. Viewed over thirteen million times, the Always #LikeAGirl ‘documentary film’ has gone viral and everyone is loving it. Everyone except grumpy old me (if you haven’t seen it, check it out above. You can even use a scented sanitary pad to mop up your tears afterwards).
So why is a well-made film that aims to boost the self-esteem of adolescent girls pissing my feminist arse off? Shouldn’t I be glad? Isn’t this what I want? In the immortal words of Maximus Decimus Meridius, AM I NOT ENTERTAINED? Will my whinging feminist butt never be happy with any attempt to mend inequality?
Probably not, and here’s why:
Always already make LOTS of money out of female insecurity
Since when does period smell? Since when did our vaginas have to live in a perpetual state of ‘freshness?’ Since Always, that’s since when. They’re the ones that suddenly decided to market scented sanitary towels and tampons, the latter of which my flatmate is convinced gave her thrush although I must state for legal reasons that it could have been any number of other factors *glares darkly*
Unless you’ve not changed your sanitary pad in two days and you’re in the middle of a heatwave, whose vag emanates a grotesque whiff whenever they menstruate that’s so severe it needs to be dowsed with perfume?
And, yet, getting young girls to worry that their perfectly functioning downstairs is suddenly an un-fresh stink station? That’s just great for self-esteem, isn’t it? Making them think that they need to hide their pads in cutesy little tins because periods are inherently embarrassing? That’s just fucking great too.
They also make Wipes-To-Go for an ‘enhanced everyday freshness.’ Because your usual everyday freshness is disgusting, obviously.
…and they seem to think period blood is blue
If we’re going on a quest to get rid of unhelpful female stereotypes, maybe we should start with the TV adverts that use clinical blue goop as period blood?
And don’t get me started on their adverts for Tampax, wherein your period is depicted as ‘Mother Nature,’ a prudish hag in a twinset who keeps trying to ruin your fun at a music festival, thus implying that women are in constant battle with the completely natural processes of their bodies, processes which, when you really think about it, are creepily depicted as outside and/or separate to them. Oops, looks like I started.
They are owned by Proctor and Gamble
Always fall under the conglomerate umbrella that is P&G. If they’re so ruddy gender-equal and self-esteem-building and brilliant, why do they sell Venus razors, promising that hairless legs will make you a ‘Goddess’? Why do all their TV adverts for Ariel only ever show the woman doing the laundry? Seriously, go onto the Ariel website, there is only ONE bloke on the whole thing, under the tagline “Your mum has gone on strike”.
Why do they peddle out expensive Olay wrinkle cream? Why, last year, did Olay say that “it feels a responsibility to celebrate African-American women and challenge the sometimes difficult ways our beauty is reflected in popular media”, when they profit from selling skin-whitening creams in Africa and Asia?
Where are the ‘unattractive’ girls in the video?
Half of the older actresses are plastered in makeup and look like they haven’t eaten a cake since 1986. And the kids? They look like they’ve just wandered out of Shutterstocksville , after you typed ‘perfect All-American cute child’ into the search box. If this campaign really wants to build young girls’ self esteem, where is the overweight child please? Where is the acne-ridden teenager? They briefly discuss how confidence evaporates during adolescence, but your typical teenagers are notably absent. Can only young pretty things fight for self-esteem? Are we complicit, in that we will we only reblog videos containing All-American perfects who are good at baseball?
And why does feminism suddenly mean being good at running and PE?
It’s like a Katniss Everdeen hangover. I get that ‘throwing like a girl’ and ‘running like a girl’ are insults, lodged in linguistic gendered fuckery but still…SOME GIRLS ARE STILL SHIT AT RUNNING. What about us? When did being a feminist and being ‘strong’ mean strong in the literal sense? Suddenly in this video all the girls run really well and boast about winning ‘the race’. I have never won a race. I have never thrown a ball that has gone where it was supposed to. This doesn’t make me #LikeAGirl, this makes me not great at sport (but, hey, I can probably beat you at Scrabble). Can I not fight gender inequality and still not be able to run for the bus without hyperventilating?
What is the aim of #LikeAGirl?
Umm…. How about to #LikeMakeALotOfMoney? I get that it’s good a huge company are using their reach to spread a positive message. And the message, let’s acknowledge, is positive. Of course I don’t want little girls’ confidence to be eroded by the time they are teenagers. But that is not why they spent all this time and money making the video. When all the number-crunchers of P&G got together in the planning meetings, were they saying: “Let’s use our reach just to help all the young girls?” And, if so, why have they plastered their branding over every part of the campaign?
I searched every inch of both the UK and USA Always website and I couldn’t find ONE thing they were planning to do to build self-esteem in young girls….other than getting people to retweet the viral video plastered with their branding. They’re not using the profits to fund self-esteem classes in schools, and they’re not planning to look at the hypocrisy in their own advertising, either.
They do do some good stuff, and credit to them. In 2011, Always teamed up with UNESCO to give puberty education and literacy to thousands of African girls. This. Is. Amazing. But, as far as I can tell, this has nothing to do with the #LikeAGirl campaign.
Increasingly big corporations are realising that viral marketing is A Big Thing. And us savvy internet folk pretty much reject any attempt to manipulate us into sharing a sponsored ‘funny’ Buzzfeed story. For something to go viral it has to resonate, it has to pull heartstrings, it has to have people yelling ‘HELL YEAH’ while clicking repost. The #LikeAGirl does all that, but at the end of the day, whenever you’re clicking repost you’re essentially doing free advertising for a large conglomerate who thinks periods are blue and your vag needs to be perfumed.
- H Bourne