This Pantene commercial from the Philippines provides a visual display of the different labels assigned to women and men for the same behavior. It is being shared over and over by friends on Facebook and Twitter. It is worth the minute it takes to watch.
I also appreciate the message in this Salon article about the role of feminism in marketing. I saw the commercial and thought “YES!!” This is so familiar to me and what I have experienced as a woman leader. And then I thought, let’s be clear, Pantene is still trying to sell me something. While messages like this are empowering and put gender discrimination in the spotlight, it is also important to check our actions. Seeing this message in media is important, but buying Pantene doesn’t change anything for women.
I think the author sums it up well at the end of her article:
“I’m OK with being marketed to on the basis of my feminism, as long as I don’t fool myself into imagining that my purchase stands in for meaningful activism (and as long as the company doesn’t try to fool me into thinking that). I appreciate smart advertising. I am willing to support brands whose business strategies suggest to me that feminism matters. Most of all, I’m glad to see the message out there, getting more exposure than it would if companies stuck to eternally draping their products in naked ladies.”
So my friends, I do want to say thank you to Pantene for providing a powerful visual display of what women leaders experience. I want to say to my fellow female colleagues to be strong. And, I do want to say go shine. But I don’t think you need a hair product to empower you to do those things.