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A powerful confrontation of gender bias in a Pantene commercial( Screengrab via PantenePhilippines / YouTube / December 27, 2013 )
You might not expect a commercial for a beauty product to confront gender bias, but that's exactly what Pantene Philippines did in its ad that juxtaposes the labels ascribed to men versus women in similar situations. He's the boss, but she's bossy. He's persuasive, while she's pushy. When dad works late, it's because he's dedicated, but when mom does, she's selfish.
In the description of the ad on YouTube, Pantene describes itself as "a brand that stands for empowering women to shine boldly." Its goal with the #WhipIt campaign: "Urging women to leave labels behind, and be strong and shine."
Still, beauty products profit in part by preying on women's insecurities. This is "marketing masquerading as feminism," argues Jessica Roy in Time magazine. "While on the surface videos like Pantene's 'Labels Against Women' show beauty brands bucking traditional standards by embracing body positivity instead of ignoring it, it's still important to recognize these videos for what they truly are: a clever way for the same old companies to make money off of women. And there's nothing less feminist than that."
And yet, Facebook exec and "Lean In" author Sheryl Sandberg praised the viral hit on her Facebook page: "This is one of the most powerful videos I have ever seen illustrating how when women and men do the same things, they are seen in completely different ways. Really worth watching."
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