Thursday, July 23, 2009

Pink and sparkly

A little excerpt from a chat I had with a friend of mine the other day:

me: ugh i got new deodorant the other day and all it does is bunch up in little clumps in my armpit
it looks like i rubbed feta cheese there
her: ew
deodorant is a wonderful invention, but formulas vary
me: yes
i have not found a winner yet
her: i refuse to buy one with sparkles
this limits my options
me: now i have to go check mine to see if it's sparkly
mine smells like citrus
her: haha
i had a brand, then they changed all their fragrances to sparkly packaging
now i'm a deodorant vagabond
me: yuck
no sparkles for me, but feta cheese side effects
her: ew
not what i would hope for my armpits
me: nope.

But I thought making products sparkly would show that they're for women! Can't we have more sparkly things so I know what to buy when I'm in the store? I guess I'm just going to have to rely on the pink products.

Needless to say, I've ended up with a lot of Pepto Bismal.


Amelia said...

hahaa. I have never understood the concept of sparkly deodorant. Who cares if you sparkle in your pits? The sparkles don't add anything to the effectiveness of the product, and unless you walk around with your arms above your head all day, who is really going to notice? Product common sense fail.

I am currently using Degree (women - as it says on the package, which is a bluish color). But at the top, on the cap, there is a sticker that reads: "works in sync with your body" next to a picture of a silhouette of a woman in a skirt. It's not pink or sparkly, so I knew it was for me when I saw the little lady-in-a-skirt sticker. Good call.

Anonymous said...

Lots of men's antiperspirants have what you refer to as "sparkles".

If you read the damn packaging, nine times out of ten, those "sparkles" are part of the ingredients for it to function properly.

MINE has "sparkles".

The label is also shiny. So what?

Rachel said...

Needless to say, I've ended up with a lot of Pepto Bismal.

That's useful if you feel like barfing all the time.

Amelia said...

I know nothing about men's deodorants. Interesting that we weren't talking about them, and you managed to bring them up. Hmm...

Anyway, as far as I know, men's deodorants are not marketed specifically for their sparkles the way that some women's deodorants. So no, for women's deodorant, is really doesn't have much to do with effectiveness. It's more along the lines of "OMG sparkles make the women go craaaazy!"

lindsay said...

I was referring to the sparkles on the packaging; I'm not sure what my friend was referring to, but I'm guessing it was the packaging also. It just implies that women buy things because they're sparkly and shiny, not because it works well.

Amelia said...

Oh geez, Lindsay, I need to go out and find what brand of deodorant it was that was actually, like, sparkly. The stuff you put on your underarms. Was sparkly. It was the most ridiculous thing I have ever seen. Can't remember the brand though.

Lily Dustbin said...

are there sparkles actually in the product??!!

I thought it was just the packaging...

I spent years looking for a deoderant that worked and didn't contain aluminum. I found the Earth Science Lichen product (unscented for me, they have lavender too) perfect... no feta pits, no stinky pits, no sparkly pits.

Nate said...

Hmm, I am very open minded about this, but I don't see the issue here. If a company wants to put sparkles in their deodorant to make it work better or just even for marketing purposes then where's the issue? Is there an issue or am I just reading a musing on deodorant?

Amelia said...


When I read this post, the first thing to come to mind for me was the horrible problem of stereotypes when it comes to advertising/marketing products, especially to women.

For example, the idea that if it is pink or sparkly, it will appeal to women (see this post, this post, Fling (shimmery!) Chocolate, etc.). This stereotype has obviously been taken to extremes, and it's annoying because pink and sparkles lend themselves to the idea that somehow women are simple/childlike/immature, and that the only way to get them to spend money is to appeal that side of them...with sparkles! Pointless sparkles!

Nate said...

Well then the problem there would be the women submitting to those products for that reason, not with the marketers themselves. They're just trying to make money anyway they can. If it's imposing a stereotype then the women shouldn't buy them and then the demand for pink sparkly things goes down and eventually the supply.

Amelia said...


Oh dear. So, Nate, I know you're not (at all, I don't think) well-versed in feminist thought, so I'm entertaining your comment.

Well then the problem there would be the women submitting to those products for that reason, not with the marketers themselves. They're just trying to make money anyway they can.

In my view, first of all, marketers have a social responsibility to not promote harmful stereotypes/ideas. I'm not necessarily saying that applies to the idea of pink/sparkly deodorant, but in general, I believe it's true. The idea of making money "any way they can" is problematic for me in that regard...because by that logic, marketers would be socially unaccountable for promoting ideas such as racism, sexism, ableism, and other things as long as it sold a few products. And I can't agree with that.

If it's imposing a stereotype then the women shouldn't buy them and then the demand for pink sparkly things goes down and eventually the supply.

Okay. Let's start with the idea that it is up to women consumers (and by the sounds of your comment, only women consumers) to end the reign of sparkly pink women's products. This is problematic firstly because women in this society are socialized from a young age to want/find attractive things that are sparkly and pink and whatnot. This is considered part of growing up female - being exposed to such things, and being taught that they are desirable. In a sense, it is not natural for women in particular to be attracted to such things, so marketers are indeed responsible for choosing to exploit this unnatural affinity. And in that sense, it should be up to the marketers to change their practices first, while we work on the problem of teaching children restrictive gender roles.

Hope that makes sense.

Nate said...

I see I see. Have you heard about the couple in Sweden who are not declaring their child's gender?

Amelia said...

Yes I have. And I wrote about it here.

But that's a bit off topic. :)

Kat said...

Ridiculous that anyone would want sparkly armpits, but not as ridiculous as either whitening or anti-wrinkle deoderant.
Clearly, I wasn't paying attention the day mass-culture imprinted on the female unconscious the aesthetic of white, wrinkle-free, sparkly arm pits.

Who has wrinkly armpits? Who even cares? Who has paid such close attention to their armpits lately? And who feels that their armpits are not quite white enough?

Have I been neglectful of this area of my grooming?
Perhaps I'd be happier, more successful, more popular, and maybe even married to a millionaire, if I'd given my armpits the care and attention they need.

lindsay said...

Man, I didn't even notice the anti-wrinkle deodorant at the store. Blinded too much by the sparkles, I guess! I have a wrinkle on my forehead that I'm trying not to care about, but maybe I should slap some deodorant on that.

tessarae said...

linds, i also use degree. i feel like the black silhouette against the blue background is way less annoying than most packaging, and it works pretty well. dove's packaging is also pretty okay, although i have my own issues with their "real beauty" campaigns. and none of them are sparkly (like vampires).

wondering said...

I have gone anti-deodorant. I use baking soda or baby powder.

It's a great move for me. I hate the smell of deodorants, I hate the packaging, I hate the cost.

I have heard good things about Tom's of Maine and Earth Mother. But if I got those I'd still hate the cost.

Faith said...

Almost all of the deodorants/anti-antiperspirants on the market have been positively linked to severe health problems, up to and including cancer (most cosmetics used by women contain products that are carcinogenic). Check out Crystal Deodorant. It doesn't clump in your armpits, it isn't sparkly, and it won't kill you either:

Michael said...

I think this is the stuff I use.
I'd go with unscented if it was an obvious odor, but even the times I've used 'feminine' deodorant (anything free is worth at least trying) I didn't smell a difference. The next time I'm dating, I'll ask the opinion of the only other person likely to get close enough to notice.