My mom: “Craig, your father and I just received your wedding announcement. We haven’t even met Eric yet. This is all so … unexpected. What happened?”
Me: “Well, mom, I used the personal care products in non-black containers and now I’m gay. But I do hope you’ll wish Eric and I the best.”
OK, that didn’t happen. But you have to assume that’s what the general mindset is of most men these days. If it wasn’t, the men’s personal care aisle at your local discount store wouldn’t look like this:
Look at all of that black and dark gray and midnight blue! It’s everywhere, from body wash to deodorant to tampons and soda. This morning Eric, er, I mean Allison alerted me to the fact that they’re doing this for sunscreen now. According to the product information, it’s “formulated for men’s unique sun care needs.” The only difference between it and every other sunscreen I’ve ever seen is the fact that it features a “contemporary, masculine scent.” Who knew that all of the other sunscreen had an old lady smell?
Of course in reality it’s all in the packaging. Give something a dark, bold color and men will be more likely to buy it, it seems.
This is our fault, gentlemen. I mean, rail all you want against the companies which produce this stuff or the stores which sell it for being dumb about gender roles and attitudes, but P&G and Target are rational actors. Their goal is to sell as much crap as they can, and if the black packaging didn’t improve sales, they wouldn’t package things in black like they have been. It’s all on us, fellas. We’re voting with our wallets and our wallets seem to be saying “if I get body wash in a steel-gray bottle, no one will think I am a homosexual and/or a woman.”
If there’s any validity to that – if buying things “formulated for men” and packaged in bold dark colors determines one’s masculinity – I’m utterly screwed. This is my current preferred line of personal care products. Literally everything I use on a daily basis:
That’s a pretty darn bright bunch of bottles! To the extent they have photos on them, they’re in soft focus! I see at least three with some floral motif! That sound you hear is Allison refusing to return my phone calls and Eric wondering if he’s got a chance.
But the packaging isn’t the worst part. Take a look at that deodorant. It’s Sure solid Unscented. I have used it, and no other deodorant, since I was a teenager in the 1980s. It has always served me well. However, about a year ago, I had a crisis: I couldn’t find it. None of the stores near me had it in stock for a few weeks and signs saying “coming soon with a fresh new look!” were attached to its usual place on the shelves. Soon, its place was gone entirely and, if I were not a hoarder with multiple sticks of it under my sink, I would have run out and I would have had to choose a new deodorant for the first time since the Reagan Administration.
But, thankfully, I found it again. It was now in the “women’s deodorant” section.
It was there, in the somewhat effeminate packaging you see above (it used to look more like this). Seeing as though it was unscented, I bought it anyway and compared it to my last stick of the old version. Same stuff, 100%, as it was back when the commercials for it featured firefighters and middle linebackers singing “raise your hand if you’re Sure!” Just now, Sure is apparently for women.
Or is it?
That’s from Sure’s UK website. I haven’t seen those manly deodorants or their excessively manly scents like “Quantum,” “Active,” “Adventure,” and “Cobalt” here it the United States yet. But I’m guessing I will soon. Sure needs to get on the dark products gravy train just like everyone else.
When I do see it, I’ll be Sure to continue to pass it up and buy two sticks of the women’s deodorant. And perhaps a couple boxes of tampons for extra measure.