Dove Wants to Take Back Armpits for Feminism

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Feb. 28 2014 5:14 PM

Dove Wants to Take Back Armpits for Feminism

armpits
If you've got 'em, flaunt 'em

Photo by Edyta Powlowska/Shutterstock

Armpits of the world, unite! Dove has unveiled its newest ad campaign and aimed it straight at your underarm. The company, known for using amateur models with “real bodies” (and also for soap), is turning its socially conscious gaze to the stigma around armpits, because armpits don’t just have stubble, they have feelings.

Conveniently, the crusade to empower the New Jersey of body parts coincides with the launch of Dove Advanced Care, a fresh line of deodorant.

“You can be a softer, smoother, more beautiful little armpit,” a woman in one spot informs her underarm, site of 500,000 disgusting sweat glands. “You deserve our best care ever, and don’t you ever forget that.”

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And a billboard in the Garden State reads: “Dear New Jersey, When people call you ‘the Armpit of America,’ take it as a compliment. Sincerely, Dove.’”

The axilla, or underarm, may indeed be ripe for a rebranding. The hollow between the hinge where the arm meets the shoulder, it consists of an artery, a vein, part of the brachial plexus, five groups of lymph nodes, and pockets of fat and tissue. It is also kind of gross, because sweat does not evaporate off of it very efficiently. (A Dove marketing director told the New York Times, “when [women] think about their underarms, they think mostly of odor and wetness.”)

Yet like the unsung elbow and the defamed butt crack, the armpit can be authentically beautiful with the right product! That’s where Dove comes in. I just wish they had honored hairy, scaly pits as well as smooth ones, since it’s hard to celebrate something while simultaneously policing every detail of its appearance.

On the other hand, I’ve never really considered how my armpits look before, so thanks, Dove, for bringing this marginalized body part to my attention! Too bad I’m already busy “empowering” my hair with hair smoothers and my face with face creams and my nails with nail polish to fully participate in the grand, pricey quest to liberate women everywhere. Maybe next season. 

Katy Waldman is Slate’s words correspondent.