September 14, 2007

Nair 4 kidz

brats_introimage.gifIntroducing the concept of the nymphet in the first pages of Lolita, Humbert Humbert insists that there are "ineffable signs" that distinguish these "deadly demons" from the wholesome children who are their peers. One of these is "the slenderness of a downy limb," and he returns to this physical characteristic repeatedly, referring to Lo as "my hot downy darling" and "a little downy girl still wearing poppies." (More obliquely, he also describes "early spring mountains with young-elephant lanugo along their spines.")

So poor Hum would be distressed to pick up today's New York Times and discover the launch of Nair Pretty, "aimed at 10- to 15-year-olds or, in industry parlance, 'first-time hair removers.'"

Come to think of it, almost anyone should be distressed by this, though perhaps not for the same reasons. Tweens being sold hair-removal as a form of empowerment? There's a hall of mirrors aspect to all this that I can't quite get my head around. The marketing tells children that if they want to feel grown up they need to start waxing, because grown-ups wax, because marketers tell them they're supposed to look like children.

The article also describes a classic example of a company creating a problem to sell a product:

Although Nair researchers had men in mind when first developing the depilatory in the 1930s, the brand did not introduce its line of products for men until 2001. Scientists had originally been trying to create a depilatory as an alternative to shaving, but found that beards would require chemicals beyond what the face could tolerate.

“They realized the concentration and density of hair was so high that it was invented instead for women’s legs,” said Mr. Fowler, the Nair researcher. The product was introduced in 1940.

Note when he says it was "invented intead" for women, he means "marketed to instead." Indeed, while the shaved armpit look had been introduced in 1915, few women were worried about their leg hair before 1940.

According to the Nair Pretty site, the "juicy and delicious" product is made for "legs, arms, underarms, or bikini area." I guess we can be glad that there's no way they can justify a High School Musical tie-in (NSFW).

Posted by Daniel Radosh


i guess no one cares about that feminist stuff anymore...

but seriously, hair was never an issue berfore 1940? Victorian women all had hairy legs and armpits? Cleopatra had a hairy muff? In all the history of humanity there was never another culture that shaved/ removed hair?

Jake -

Yeah, grown women generally did have hairy legs and armpits back when their clothing didn't display these parts of their bodies. Shaving them wasn't something women came up with for their own entertainment, ya know, but something they had to do to keep up with men's "fashion" dictates. Obviously there were particular cultures and subcultures that fetishized one kind of hair removal or another, but that's neither limited to women nor to certain parts of the body.

But while we're on the subject of removable body hair...

Post a comment

Powered by
Movable Type 3.2