My new hero is a three-year-old girl named Cecilia, who happily removes the heads from female Legos and attaches them to the male Lego bodies, creating what has been dubbed “Badass Lego Girls.” Instead of wearing pink block dresses—those things look rather uncomfortable—the girls sport superhero costumes, police outfits, soldier uniforms, bows and arrows, guns, axes, and motorcycles. Cecilia has mastered a skill I did not learn until just recently: not buying into gendered marketing. Ahhh, gendered marketing, you trickster you. For years, I believed I needed to purchase products meant specifically for girls and women. But often the only difference between the original product and the women’s version was that you wrapped it in pretty pink bows and unicorns, manipulating me by playing into my love for bows. . .and well, unicorns.
But in the meantime, I paid more for the women’s product, and wasn’t always satisfied with the results.
Exhibit A: The Old Spice dilemma.
Once upon a time, I had a boyfriend (wait, there’s more) who wore Old Spice High Endurance. Like a golden stick of butter with the superpower of destroying human stank pores, the deodorant was something of a heavenly sacrament gifted to me via my beau. I loved the smell and could sit next to him happily sniffing for hours. I wanted to smell just as incredible, but no matter how hard I tried, I could never find a women’s deodorant that swooned me like Pappa Spice did.
After we broke up, I discovered I had my own secret superpower: the creepiest ability to identify Old Spice High Endurance on any man. I’d be waiting in line behind a hairy middle-aged man at the movie theatre and . . .what’s that incredible smell wafting into my nostrils and inducing little dopamine dudes to do a happy dance? Why, it’s OLD SPICE HIGH ENDURANCE! This kind of thing happened on the regs.
Once at a summer camp, I was chatting with a beautiful, muscular god of a man named Carlos. I had spent the entire week enticed by that oh-so familiar scent radiating from his perfectly toned bod. Finally, I opened the can. “I don’t want to freak you out, but are you wearing Old Spice High Endurance?” The answer was yes, and no, he didn’t mind me asking, but I really don’t condone wigging out new friends by showing off that you know the exact toiletry products they use.
So here is the million dollar question I came to four years after falling in love with OSHE (now worthy of its own abbreviation): if I liked the smell of OSHE so much, why didn’t I just wear it myself?
Let’s take a look at the script for their famous commercials:
“Hello, ladies, look at your man, now back to me, now back at your man, now back to me. Sadly, he isn’t me, but if he stopped using ladies scented body wash and switched to Old Spice, he could smell like he’s me. Look down, back up, where are you? You’re on a boat with the man your man could smell like. What’s in your hand, back at me. I have it, it’s an oyster with two tickets to that thing you love. Look again, the tickets are now diamonds.”
Anything is possible when your man smells like Old Spice and not a lady. It’s for boys of course! It’s all right there in the monologue. The ad clearly conveys that this is a product for men that will make them more manly and less feminine (because that is undesirable). The actor says the word “man” 5 TIMES IN 32 SECONDS.
But wait! What if…just what if I wore the Old Spice brand? And that’s when I decided I would no longer deprive myself. There wasn’t a holy aroma bible telling me what I could and could not use to pamper my luscious body. There was no ‘Thou shall not use men’s deodorant.’ I was done with gendered marketing. And so, I promptly purchased my own $3.25 stick of MEN’S Old Spice High Endurance.
I have never been happier with my armpits. It’s like I’ve opened a new chakra of enlightenment. Each time I stretch out my arms in yoga downward dog, I get a whiff of the tender pheromones. When I reach up to open a high-up kitchen cabinet, I am overwhelmed with joy. Whenever I find myself catching my own scent, I am happily reminded of the best decision I made for my feminine body.
You see, what does it really matter if I use deodorant that lacks a “W-O” in front of those three masculine letters? Why do I feel obliged to use products simply because of their curly cursive font, pastel coloring, and packaging? FACT: Men’s deodorant will not make my uterus fall out and flop away from me. It will not induce brunette hairs to pop from my chin. It will not change my gender or sexuality. The only affect men’s deodorant has on me is making me borderline manic-excited to put it on each morning and suddenly feeling overconfident that I could get down and breakdance if I wanted to (which would likely end badly for my aerobically-challenged body).
No product defines me as a woman. No brand gives me my self-assurance or confidence in my womanhood. That all comes from within here (*enthusiastically points to the place where heart sits*). I’m blowing this popsicle joint! It’s time to wear my deodorant and like it too.
Cosette Kenny is an electric-guitar playing, red lipstick-rocking slam poet whose spirit animal is coffee. She likes to write stuff.
Featured image via NYmag