Archive | November, 2013

Danger! Un-vagisiled Intimate Area

26 Nov

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has issued a travel advisory for this intimate area. Anyone who penetrates the area risks contact with thousands of sweat glands and potential kidnap by radicalised groups of unwaxed hairs.

As has been discussed elsewhere on the Capitalist Beauty tag and by Caroline Criado-Perez, the beauty industry has a water-tight business model: it feeds on women’s insecurities about our bodies (our vulnerability stems from the fact that we are taught, from girlhood, that our self-worth is inextricably linked to our ability to mimic constructed notions of beauty and physical attractiveness) by convincing us that we are repulsive. Then, it sells us back the “solutions.” That is, solutions to problems that wouldn’t exist at all if it wasn’t for the beauty industry in the first place.

The most repugnant part of a woman’s body, according to the beauty industry, is her vagina. Apologies! Even the word itself is too offensive to say! Therefore, for the rest of this article I shall follow the beauty industry’s preferred lingo and refer to a woman’s sexual organs as her intimate area.*

There is already a whole array of products and surgical procedures to make our intimate areas seem more pubescent, whiter and tighter. Now, as a TV advertisement informed me the other evening, we should now also be using Vagisil, which, as far as I understand, is a type of Febreze for fannies. According to the advert, although a sweaty “odour” is entirely “normal” in a lady’s intimate area, she should nevertheless be so embarrassed by the fact that her area sweats that she should hide behind a houseplant.** Yet, scenting her intimate area with Vagisil products will “give her the confidence” to kick over the houseplant and brave the social world again. Presumably, this is the capitalist version of women’s empowerment.

Eve was forced to hide behind a fig leaf because she had no Vagisil (and God hadn't invented houseplants in those days)

Eve was forced to hide behind a fig leaf because she had no Vagisil (and God hadn’t invented houseplants in those days)

But gosh! It had never occurred to me that my intimate area shouldn’t be sweating. If  – as the beauty industry tells me – my intimate area should be febreezed, lighter-coloured, labia-free, more symmetrical, tighter, hairless and so on, would it not just be easier to have the entire area removed? Or perhaps we should just glue the lips together with special Vagisil sealant, so that the intimate area would at least stop secreting disgusting fluids such as menstrual blood?

Frankly, by shouting, as they do, “WOMAN, YOUR VAGINA IS DISGUSTING,” Vagisil and the rest of the so-called “intimate health” industry are guilty of profound misogynism and they call for us to collaborate them: they wish for us to hate our intimate areas and to heap shame on other women who don’t. I have spoken to my own intimate area about this, and she is very angry. She is not taking it lying down (although she often does). This intimate area says V is for Vendetta, as well as for Vagina, and she is planning revenge on Vagisil. She has yet to decide what form the vengeance will take, but it will probably involve sending one of the following to the Vagisil office: the Order of the Lady Finger, an old pair of un-febrezed pants, or some artwork formed of vagina prints. Further suggestions welcome.

*Note that this turn of phrase is the clinical and character-free linguistic equivalent of magnolia paint, which is a shame given that the vagina is a source of pleasure and babies. If only the beauty industry used “fun tunnel” or “mother of all souls,” which, I’m sure you’d agree, are nicer substitutes for “vagina”. 

** If you really must follow the advert’s advice, could I suggest you choose the marijuana as your refuge of choice. It may help you to put things into perspective.


A lesson in the non-apology from Slimming World

1 Nov

The fauxapology, also known as the if-apology, is a technique commonly employed by politicians and PR Executives (and, in my experience, by sexists, racists, snobs and ex-romantic interests) to deny any responsibility for the statement, grievance, misdeed or behaviour displayed.

The non-apology merely shows that the non-apologiser is sorry that the aggrieved is requesting an apology, demanding compensation, or threatening retaliation. The non-apologiser shows no contrition, remorse or meaningful expression of regret for their actions. S/he admits nothing. Indeed, the non-apology is often employed to shift blame to the aggrieved, by implying that s/he has misunderstood the incident, is acting in an over-dramatic fashion, has no sense of humour or is over-sensitive. It is basically a way of saying FUCK OFF without saying fuck off.

Consider the following:

•    “I am sorry if you feel that way”
•    “I’m sorry if you are upset”
•    “I’m sorry if you can’t take a joke but most people think my antiquated racial slurs are hilarious”
•    “I’m sorry that your arse got in the way of my hand”
•    “I’m sorry that you interpreted my touchy-feely nature as groping”
•    The non-apology of Maria Kang (she of social media fame due to her mother-shaming “what’s your excuse?” photography, which went viral on facebook last week).

If you need a more in-depth case study in order to better understand the art of faux-apology, please find below Slimming World’s response to my complaint at their hideous mother-shaming marketing strategy:

Dear Joanna
Thanks for getting in touch regarding the Slimming World leaflet that you received. We’re really sorry to hear that you feel so upset by it, it’s certainly not meant to cause offence in any way.
We use our real members in our campaigns to genuinely reflect the positive changes that losing weight makes to their lives. Sara, the member who you refer to on our leaflet has genuinely said that she feels much happier, more confident and able to be the mum she always wanted to be. By losing weight, she says that she feels fitter and more able to run around and play with her children and that she’s also passing her healthier lifestyle on to her family.
At Slimming World we absolutely believe that your worth is not in your weight. It’s our goal to help people who wish to lose weight achieve the weight they want to be – our members choose their own target weight, and we support them to achieve it. Sara has now reached her target weight, which means that she is able to attend her Slimming World group free of charge to help her maintain her weight loss for life.
Once again, we’re sorry that you feel upset by our materials and thank you for taking the time to get in touch.
With best regards