White Armpits... please?

Advertising outside of your home country is always intriguing, but Asia pretty much takes the cake on entertainment value for me. Forget the adverts filmed in a different language and then translated into English, resulting in the words stopping but the mouth still flapping... that’s always a giggle. It is what is being advertised and how it is being advertised that I find intriguing, because the trigger points to make me buy something are obviously very different to the trigger points within other cultures/countries.

Now Asians are into skin whitening products. It was very confusing when I first landed in Singapore because I would buy some body moisturiser, for example, and my legs would come up blindingly white – not pretty. I then realised I was shopping in the body whitening products section – something I’d never come across before in my life.

Confused by this, I asked my Asian mates what the hell all of the whitening products were about, and they said, in Asia, the whiter you are the richer you appear. This goes back to the days when poor people who worked the fields could be identified by their tans. So the tradition still exists and most women will do anything to avoid a tan – especially the older generation. It’s a shame though, because people who CAN tan look so much more beautiful with colour in their skin, than they do plastered with whitening products... but that’s just my opinion.

Apparently I look red when I tan, according to my Indian friends, which was quite disconcerting to hear. After a holiday somewhere many moons ago, I came back to work feeling all good having colour in my skin when one of my Indian colleagues said why are you so red? What? Red? This is me with a tan. Perception is a funny old thing.

Anyway, anyway, anyway, getting back to the point of this blog, I have a new favourite ad. And it’s Rexona’s new advert for a deodorant that leaves you smelling nice AND gives you white armpits within two weeks. Crikey! Rexona, one of Australia’s illustrious deodorant brands, of whom I would be a “fan” if I bothered to check if they had a Facebook page, has come to Singapore. Hooray.

Unfortunately they do not stock “Classic Silk” – my preferred deodorant of choice and one I have been lugging around the planet every time I’ve lived in another country – I bought 12 cans before moving back to Singapore. Hey, when you come from a sweaty country like Australia, and you’re genetic ancestry comes from a cooler part of the world, you’ve got to agree that Australia does do deodorant better than anyone else? We have to – Caucasian Australians are sweaty bastards after all.

So Rexona is here but it’s different. Bummer. However Rexona in Asia is clever because they are localising – the corner stone of success for any brand seeking global dominance – and this is what has caught my imagination.

Picture this. Two women, car broken down, they’re waving for attention at the side of the ride, no one is stopping, they rip their sleeves off and get sexy, one of them does not use the Rexona brand being advertised and therefore, has no success getting attention. The other one does, and as a result, has shining white armpits, and is immediately swamped with sexy male helpers, the car is fixed and they are on their way.

Personally, I have never given too much thought to the appearance of underarms. I appreciate that in the advertising world one’s armpits must look “clean,” and we all remember the steroid pumping Eastern European women at the Olympics of yesteryear for their hairy pits. However other than a “strict no hair/no smell” rule for myself, and a fervent wish that all women around me follow the same rule or kept hair hidden from view, that’s about it.

But now my eyes have been opened and gleaming white pits are the vogue – at least around these parts. I have to say though, and I am sorry, but it feels a tad ridiculous to me because while I have come to understand and appreciate why Asian and darker skinned women want to look whiter, I can never agree that I think it is a great thing. Heck, in Africa, some of the women using whitening products are breaking out in skin cancers all over their body because of the toxins in this stuff. Do we really also want to be spraying this stuff into our sweat glands? And while it is certainly not going to be of the toxic grade being used in Africa, spraying any level of beach into a part of the body that absorbs everything into the bloodstream surely can’t be good? I mean the scientific evidence is already damning enough for deodorant – but I will continue using it anyway – but bleach?

I long for a world where women, in particular, can feel beautiful in the skin they are in and celebrate the body shape they get. We are all constantly bombarded with images of what a perfect woman should be, and so we forget that we are perfect just the way we are, because it is the way we are. Why do we keep fighting for the impossible? Why do we accept the advertising bollocks? But more than that, I believe women are being programmed to waste precious head space on bullshit when there is so much more we can be doing with our time.

Yours, without the bollocks
A red Andrea

PS: I do not claim to be any better about this stuff than any other woman on the planet and it shits me that I get caught up in it too
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