Armpits are the new black.

Dove’s Real Beauty Campaign has had its fair share of successes and critiques, yet while they have been pushing this idea of “real beauty,” it seems that they also think that should exclude your armpits. Like we don’t have enough body parts to obsess over.
The slogan, “Are you sleeveless ready?” says enough about what they’re trying to pitch, but I’ve heard the commercial is pretty irritating, more or less saying that their newest deodorant will make your underarms look soft and gorgeous (as opposed to their gross existence before). The website says:

“Every woman can have softer, smoother underams and show them off in sleeveless styles that make her feel beautiful.”

Because seriously, who likes a girl with dry and not soft-as-a-baby’s-ass underarms?
Thanks MAC for the story.

Join the Conversation

  • ikkin

    The world is ridiculous. Beautiful armpits. Beautiful clavicles. Beautiful toe cleavage. Sometimes I feel like we’re living in this neo-Victorian era, where every woman is an Adèle Ratignolle, an Angel in the House, in the eyes of society, but we’re not wearing white, muslin gowns anymore. We’re wearing x-inch heals, short skirts, push-up bras, but it’s all the same shit. Queen Victoria no longer exists as the ideal woman, but Paris Hilton serves as an excellent replacement, full service as a model of empty sexuality and a perpetuating image of body hatred. Isn’t it all just a disturbing reminder of how far we haven’t come, all the little tidbits of equality we’ve been fed to keep us shut up?

  • Human Bean

    Wow! It’s like Dove read my mind! My boyfriend is constantly admiring my armpits, telling me how soft and smooth and beautiful they are. I was afraid I might lose that as I get older, but Dove is right there for me, protecting my pits against aging.
    Seriously, if there were anyone left who still believed that these corporate beauty standards are not completely made up and deliberately invented to push product, this should be the final proof.

  • keira

    About the only thing I can say is that at least the product doing the armpit prettifying already has another purpose. But, I’m sure if we give it just a liiitle bit more time, Dove will come out with a specialty armpit moisturizing line. Look for it!

  • Simplejewel

    I’m glad someone’s pointed out the insanity of their newest ads because wow…
    Coming from a womyn with a severe case of ezcema, I DON’T EVEN WORRY ABOUT DRY ARMPITS. Seriously.
    So Dove is either creating another worry for womyn or appealing to people with pit fetishes. I haven’t decided which yet.

  • ElleMariachi

    Huh. And here I was, wearing sleeveless shirts because it’s hot as hell, without thinking about how smooth my armpits are!

  • Vervain

    And let’s not forget that if any of us do happen to have dry armpits, it’s a direct result of all the other products we use on them in an attempt to comply with social pressures that insist our pits be odorless and hairless. Now they have to be baby-soft, too?
    Anyone care to join me in a boisterous “FUCK YOU, DOVE!”?

  • Gretchen

    The website mentions “natural” comfort and beauty and all that.
    My natural beauty is having hairy armpits- cuz thats what is natural!
    Its not for everyone and I’m kinda a hypocrite cuz I shave my legs, but my hairy armpits are sweet.

  • Anonymous

    I must guiltily admit that I use Dove deodorant and it DOES make your armpits much, much easier to shave and helps prevent the dryness and cracking that comes along with shaving.
    I TOTALLY get where you’re coming from with this, though. The ad should be saying “helps prevent razor burn” or “rectifies the dryness from shaving” rather than HAVE PRETTY ARMPITS.
    . . . Though I do think that all of us who shave are armpits are probably lying if we say that it’s not because we want them to “look better.”

  • Jix

    I switched to Dove deodorant in high school when I was getting ready for prom. My sister pointed out my dry, flaky-looking armpits. It makes sense that they would be dry since I (like most other female people) was using antiperspirant. Dove was still that, but it moisturized too. So I used that until a few months ago, when I decided that I was tired of not sweating and switched to Old Spice (finding a “woman’s” non-antiperspirant is near-impossible).
    In summation, antiperspirants dry you out. If your pits are prone to dry flakiness but you’d still rather not sweat, I recommend Dove.
    Does this make me a bad feminist? ;)

  • TheSoyMilkConspiracy

    I haven’t shaved my armpits in 5 years. Because deodorant tends to both ruin my bras and glop up in my pit hair (gross), I haven’t worn that in five years, either. Sidenote, dudes, for some reason, LOVE this. That’s not why I keep my pits hairy, but it was an unexpected pleasant side effect – several guys have called it “womanly,” which is funny, since hairy pits are supposed to be a masculine thing. Hmmm.
    Those Dove commercials have always pissed me off, but the “soft n’ smooth armpit” ones were always the worst. What’s next? Eyeball softener?
    Also, has anybody caught those Metamucil “Beautify Your Insides” commercials (because now we’ve apparently got to keep our large intestines nice n’ pretty)? I’ve kind of been expecting a Feministing post on that.

  • TheSoyMilkConspiracy

    And Gretchen, shaving your legs but not your pits does NOT make you a hypocrite! I shave my legs because wearing jeans is itchy and uncomfortable if I don’t and I like the way bare legs feel on my sheets. I shave my arms because it makes my tattoos brighter. I don’t shave my pits because…I like hairy armpits. Nobody should make you feel like a “hypocrite” (or anything negative) because of what you choose to do to your body hair. It’s personal preference – end of story. Go on with your fur pits and smooth legs!

  • Danyell

    I’m actually a big fan of Dove’s “Real Beauty” campaign, but I agree that having attractive underarms shouldn’t be a major concern for anybody. The thing is, that some body parts just aren’t always that attractive. Especially if you do any kind of physical labor (thus proving Ikkin’s neo-Victorian theory) . Case in point, I am an artist. I will NEVER have pretty hands. They’re always dry, my cuticles are wrecked, I get a lot of blisters and paper cuts. But I’m not about to go and buy a beauty product for EVERY part of my body! Enough already.
    Btw, it needs to be mentioned that the same parent-company that produces all Dove products, also produces all Axe products. So, there you go.

  • Sarah

    What’s interesting to me is that the rhetoric used to sell this product is virtually identical to that used not long after the beginning of the LAST century in advertisements for hair removal (shaving) products. The introduction of sleeveless clothing for women was the “catalyst” for underarm hair removal (same idea for shorter skirts and shaving legs, bikinis and bikini line waxing, etc). The basic idea is that if a part of your body is being exposed for public view, it had better be “pretty” – hairless, soft and smooth. (I did my Master’s thesis on body hair norms).
    And I agree with ikkin about the “no stone left unturned” approach to female beauty standards – with brazilian waxes and “designer vaginas” there is now literally no area of the female body that doesn’t require “beautification”. Ugh.

  • Danyell

    Sarah, I’d be really interested in reading that thesis.

  • Dorothy_Parked_Her

    Is this really a surprise from the company whose “Real Beauty” ads pushed a skin-firming cream (at least initially)?

  • Zoe

    Lets just get clear about DOVE. They manufacture products to lighten women’s skin color in India so she can attract a “better” husband.
    Sarah Parker just introduced a line of clothes and bags with nothing over $20. How about telling us what the oppressed labor force is paid to produce these items.
    Dove can shove their age campaign, their hair color campaign and their get a husband campaign. ITS SOAP ~ not a campaign.

  • hdawg

    true story – i moved further south than i’d been used to living, and realized after hiking to the train one morning that i couldn’t continue wearing plain ol’ deodorant. i stank like a woman. so…i went to the drug store and went down the aisle, looking at the percentage of active ingredient. the highest, and the one i still use: mitchum. you’ll notice they are not pursuing a “sleeveless” campaign. whatever. i buy it and it actually works. their tag line “so good you can skip a day” – true 11 months out of the year (come to DC in August and i might be a little stanky by 5 p.m.). so just don’t buy it if it doesn’t work for you.

  • ShelbyWoo

    This reminds me of the commercial for some kind of cellulite reducing cream that shows nothing but scantily clad 18-20 year old women that don’t weigh over 100 lbs., because we all know that skinny, young girls should be worried about cellulite! That commercial really ticks me off.
    I second Cara, if it moisturizes or reduces razor burn, then advertise it that way (I might have been willing to give it a shot for that). Otherwise, who gives a rat’s ass what another persons pits look like! People aren’t that superficial…are they? Wait, I recall a several years ago Julie Roberts making headlines because she dared to go to a premier in a sleeveless dress without shaving, and, horror of horrors, she waved to the crowd, and everyone saw it! The picture was plastered everywhere like it was real news. So, yes, apparently women with hairy (and/or ugly) armpits are a problem in this culture. Along with women that are too fat, too skinny, too tall, too short, too pale, too dark, too grey-haired, too blonde, etc. etc. etc.

  • Andrea

    Is it bad that I kind of like the idea of having healthy armpit skin? Not for looks or anything like that — but I shave my armpits, and shaving moisturized skin (at least for me) seems to leave less danger of cutting yourself. Yes, I’ve cut my armpits while shaving them, I am pathetic (actually, I’m just in a hurry in the mornings).
    Of course, it’s difficult to know if I just like my smooth armpits or if I’m conditioned to like them. Fucking patriarchy.

  • Lacy D.

    I was under the impression that the commercial was saying armpits look softer and smoother because Dove’s deodorant doesn’t leave those white flaky clumps on your armpits, which looks pretty gross when you’re wearing a tank top.

  • ikkin

    I use Ban. It works. It doesn’t have sexist commercials.

  • EG

    Andrea, your last paragraph cracks me up! (In a good way!) I’m totally gonna quote that.

  • lone phantom

    I’m so glad to find that there are other woman out there with hairy underarms! Yay!

  • aniri

    SERIOUSLY. Where is all the anger coming from? Enough already. Being a feminist does not equal having hairy armpits or smooth ones, flaky ones, or dry ones, or ones that look like a baby’s bottom. We all like ours different. Dove is trying to sell a product and they are going to sell it to those who WANT SOFT SMOOTH ARMPITS. I personally have amazing soft armpits, but not because of Dove. And I am never going to buy a Dove product, because I don’t like the company and its practices. But, I just think that there is no need to get so worked up about some women wanting soft armits and companies like Dove catering to that and marketing to those women.
    And what the heck is wrong with Brazilian waxes? Some of us like smooth skin down there AND it’s not just for women. Men get them too. It’s just a matter of personal preference. AND IT’S NOT ANTI-FEMINIST.

  • werechick

    I’m still of the conviction that all people should shave their underarms. It’s not a male/female thing, it’s a “let’s not look like we have Don King in a headlock” thing.
    I dig the notion of soft skin, it’s much more comfortable.
    As for the “beautiful underarms” notion, it’s silly, but, it’s advertising, so of course it sells on sex appeal. It’s the same way they got teenage boys to spend near infinite amounts of money on Axe body spray. (Ew)

  • Morgaine

    Here’s to natural beauty, armpit, leg, bikini hair and all. I shave (rather like my bearded husband), when I want to, for special occasions, for something out of the ordinary, for novelty. In a world of increasingly scarce resources, disposable razors and shaving cream are just a ridiculous affectation to serve a completely meaningless standard of “beauty”.

  • Minervasp73

    Thank you Aniri. I think the Dove ad is pretty silly as well, and I don’t buy Dove. However, I do shave up and down, same as my boyfriend, because we don’t like to get poked in the face by long hair. That doesn’t make me less of a feminist, it makes us both practical about things like oral sex and sensitive skin.
    BTW neither one of us uses anti-perspirant because it’s totally unhealthy! We use natural deodorants 365 days a year and we both smell beautiful. :) Mine has chamomile and natural salts, and I love it.

  • ambidextrous amazon

    Yeah hdawg! An ex-boyfriend’s mother gave me some mitchum when I was about to put a prom dress on and she noticed the gloppy white stuff. I have been using it since. Even more awesome is the fact that they have a scentless product.
    I think it’s time for me to try a natural deodorant, and hopefully get over my paranoia of smelling bad.
    I shave my pits often, but legs rarely. Legs are a pain to keep up, but pits are easy, and the more hair there is, the more surfaces the bacterial flora have to live and thus produce more odor. But I really wish I had the guts to let ‘em grow. I tried it once briefly and got tired of the “french chick” comments and the tickling hairs.

  • ambidextrous amazon

    off topic again:
    My latest container of Mitchum had a sticker on it that said “if your favorite vegetable is a corn dog, then you’re a MITCHUM MAN.” So, they do have their own vaguely condescending advertising campaign for the guys. Heh.

  • Sarah

    I agree with aniri that the issue here is not whether or not shaving (or caring about smooth, soft armpits) is feminist or not (although debate over this issue goes back to the Second Wave).
    However, I disagree that Dove is simply catering to a market of women who want fashionable armpits. This ignores the instructive role of advertisements – the way that they teach us to problematize things we might never have thought were a problem before (although Dove is certainly not the worst example of it). In other words, I’m sure many women never thought about whether their underarms were soft and smooth before they saw this ad. Maybe this ad made them self-conscious about them for the first time. Advertisers (and consumer capitalism broadly speaking) depend on new markets – and therefore help create them by making us feel that our bodies are wrong the way that they are and that we need to buy their products in order to “fix” them.

  • JenLovesPonies

    Zoe Ann Nicholson-
    Sarah Jessica Parker’s line has what to do with Dove? I mean, yes, I think its an important topic to discuss, but hardly fits in here

  • fisherking

    Fashionable armpits… I sense a new business opportunity for people who run pay-for fetishist web sites.
    ALL commercials exist for one reason: to create the perception of need. Perception of need is created by describing a supposed “lack” of something important. Is there a single follicle in your armpits? Then you will never know love, you disgusting troglodite! Buy our soap and get adored! Can’t fit into the same dress you wore in grade school? THAT’S the existential void you feel in the center of your being. You don’t deserve affection. Buy our pills/energy shake and get become happy forever and ever!
    The aim of this advertising is this: keep the goods flowing. If ANY product actually brought you the lifestyle they imply, then they wouldn’t be able to market anything else. So every commercial out of necessity promises things that they never had any intention of delivering. Armpits are just the latest trend. In a few months, they’ll move past armpits and find some hard-to-shave place and tell us how it is the one thing keeping us from sex. It is tragic (yet typical) that women are the main targets for this kind of treatment. We men get this too, but in much smaller doses. We don’t have an entire magazine publishing industry telling us that if we wear last season’s color of socks then we will treated like lepers, and deservedly so. We do know for a FACT, though, that if we don’t have rock-hard abs, then we will never ever know love!