Pantene says you can wash that sexism right out of your hair

Don’t you hate it how people are labelled differently for engaging in the same behaviour? What’s “persuasive” in a man is labelled “pushy” in a woman. A father who stays up all night working is “dedicated,” but a woman who does that is “selfish.” That is, like,  so unfair. Luckily, that problem has a solution. And I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking that the solution to that problem, which uptight complainy feminists might call “sexism” but that this ad calls “labels,”  isn’t “collective political action and widespread cultural change.” The solution is shampoo. 

There’s nothing terribly new about people with something to sell using the language of social justice to do it, to convince you that you can become more equal by consuming more or different stuff. An individual solution predicated on buying things  seems so much easier, and so much more fun, than a collective, cultural solution that will require political involvement and feminist protest – and, conveniently, it’s also far less threatening to the status quo.

According to Pantene, sexism is real (but they won’t call it that), but you shouldn’t let it hold you back. You can end it with shampoo (and conditioner, styling serum, leave-in treatments, and a full line of Pantene products!), and you’re under no obligation to end it for other people – you’ve got yours, so fuck other people! With Pantene, you can “be strong” in the face of sexism (again, let’s please not call it that) and “shine” because the revolution can’t happen unless your hair is glossy. Pantene wants to empower women, and if they happen to turn a profit while doing so,  well, that’s because they don’t let the label of “multinational corporation minting women’s insecurities into gold while asking for credit for being so forward-thinking” hold them back. You go, girl!

Besides, you’re not one of those ugly feminists – I’m sorry, empowered women – are you? You’re a hot feminist with great hair. So be strong and shine.

New York, NY

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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