This is Not in Defence of ‘Science It’s a Girl Thing’, But….

If you haven’t seen this monstrosity treat yourself, although make sure you take in the like:dislike ratio and the comments below – they’re by far the best bit.

I have to reiterate that I’m not in favour of this advert.  I find it as patronising, sexist and quite frankly misleading as anyone who left a comment below the you tube video.  However I find it no less patronising, sexist and quite frankly misleading than most cosmetic adverts (should also point out here I’m sat wearing foundation, eyeliner, mascara and blusher with my hair dyed, I’m not anti-cosmetics, just anti-their advertising tactics).  I despair at phrases like “the science of genes” (genetics then, yeah?) and “healthy hair” (oh yes, those dead cells sure do look healthy).  I rant at the TV when I see small print statements like “the model is wearing lash enhancers” (i.e. false eyelashes when ‘demonstrating’ how good a mascara is).  I wanted a mass boycott on L’Oreal products in revolt of the “micro dermabrasion kit” – women taking to the streets stating ‘you can’t reinvent a scrub, shove 2 words together to make it sound scientific – we’ll not buy into it!’  But did it happen?  No.  You know why?  Because they work (the adverts, not necessarily the products).  They must do, because marketing companies charge a shed load of money to make them and, quite frankly, L’Oreal aren’t stupid.  If they didn’t see a profit in putting these stupid ads out they wouldn’t make them anymore.  This realisation made me very depressed until I saw the advert for Alpecin caffeine shampoo (sexist, patronising adverts are no longer the privilege of women, and therefore neither is the argument for ‘they must work’).  This advertising tact is rife throughout our lives and I find it particularly offensive when aimed at children.

So for someone whose acutely aware sexist advertising, why am I not leaving my true thoughts on the comments section below the you tube video?  Tragically it’s no worse than most other advertising and quite frankly at least this is attempting to exert some social benefit rather than pigeon-hole girls AND sell them a load of crap they don’t need.  I also have a feeling (although admittedly no substance behind that feeling) that a lot of the outrage online is from people who aren’t the target audience (although I’m sure, and hope, that I’ll be put right on that point).  This is not to say that just because it does appeals to school girls we should allow it, however if it does appeal to a girl as a result she gets into science and as she matures realises she’s much more interested in particle physics than walking back and forth on a catwalk (what are they supposed to be doing anyway?), or instead of synthesising eyeshadow she’s quite interested in drug design – could we fault it? Considering what small fry this is in the scheme of sexist marketing and the possible benefits if it worked, I’m happy to sit back and see if it has any effect on female uptake in science subjects, after all waiting for the results is what I do – it’s a science thing.

Whilst writing this though I’ve come to realise that the best response to the advert would be for teenage girls to say ‘you can’t shove a catwalk, some eye shadow and a crap backing tune together and think we’ll buy into it’ and thus boycott scientific subjects in protest – hmmm, will have to think of a better response which won’t involve the downfall of Science and Feminism in one fell swoop!

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