Friday, August 3, 2012

Is this shampoo commercial sexist or not?

(here's the link to youtube)

Tell me what you think, because I read a blog post which claims that this commercial is full of sexism, and it made the author of the post really angry.

But I don't see it. I've watched the commercial, and it seems to be saying, "Hey, I'm an Olympic athlete and I'm awesome. But the pool water really damages my hair. So I use Pantene shampoo and it's awesome."

And the claim, in the aforementioned blog post, is that this commercial is saying, "Even if you're an Olympic athlete, as a woman you're still not good enough unless your hair is perfect and you fit this standard of beauty."

I think the context is really really important when determining if something is sexist/racist/etc. If the commercial was perpetuating a harmful sexist stereotype that already exists in the minds of its audience, then that would be bad and sexist.

But I don't think it is. Really, I don't. I don't see any problem.

During the Olympics, there has been a lot of talk in the land of feminist blogs (blogosphere? I have some doubts about whether it is, in fact, a sphere) about how the media is portraying the female athletes. And I agree that that criticism is valid- it IS dumb and sexist for the media to make a big deal about an athlete's weight or physical appearance, and to do this to woman athletes and not men. Like... they're athletes, they're the best in the world, and you really think it's valid to criticize their bodies? Really? Really?

But I stand by my statement that I don't see any harmful messages towards women in that commercial. I'm sure if I thought about it enough, I could come up with some convoluted message of sexism, but nothing was obvious when I first watched the commercial, so I think it's not worth analyzing in any more detail than that.

What do y'all think?


  1. I agree with you, Steph. The message that I hear is: Natalie, as an Olympic athelete, is in the pool ALL THE TIME (as in way more than me), so her hair must take a bigger hit than mine and if Pantene works on her hair, then it must work on mine too.


  2. This ranks rigt up there with the criticism that Gabby Douglas is getting from some black females because her hair does not look nice when she is competing.

    There is nothing sexist about this commercial. I consider mself to be a woman that has overcome sexism in the workplace and elsewhere, but I do take pride in my appearance as well. You can look go and run rings around men at the same time. You DO NOT have to look like a man to be better than a man.

    1. Yeah I heard about how people have been making comments about Gabby Douglas's hair- that's ridiculous, people need to stop criticizing.

  3. Definitely not sexist. Even a little. And as an added bonus, it makes more sense than this commercial , which isn't sexist either.

    Also, I think Gabby looks amazing when she is competing.


  4. Just because it's a woman using a product that women use doesn't mean it's sexist.

    1. Yes. There are differences in men's and women's appearance and products, and that's just a true statement (but very much a generalization). It becomes sexist when people try to force you into a certain role. But I definitely didn't see anything like that in the commercial.

  5. I watched it. The only REMOTELY sexist thing I saw was that when her hair just HAPPENED to look mind-blowingly awesome, she happened to be in a formal dress. Sort of like what you said about Roxanne in Megamind. She is always pretty. She must not be very smart/athletic/whatever other trait we have apparently arbitrarily assigned to males. Good for her! And good on her for finding a shampoo she likes! :-)