Your armpit, already the subject of Vogue scrutiny for possible plastic surgery, has another problem besides being fat and saggy: Being just plain ugly.
That's the line that Dove is taking with its marketing of Dove Ultimate Go Sleeveless, which The Wall Street Journal reports hits stores this week. Dove "claims its formula of specialized moisturizers will give women better-looking underarms in five days."
It's not quite true that Dove has invented this concern:
"We spoke with over 500 women, and almost every one of them thinks that their underarms are unattractive," says Mike Dwyer, U.S. marketing director for Unilever's deodorant business, including its Dove, Degree and Axe brands. One in three, meanwhile, said they feel more confident when their pits are in good condition, leading Mr. Dwyer to say, "How do we give them that confidence?"
Yes, that is The Wall Street Journal casually using "pits."
We believe that women asked about their underarms don't find them attractive. But it's quite the leap from there to believing they actively need to be "fixed." Aside from a scene in Flirting With Disaster, who has given them a second thought? This is where marketers have decided to get more honest than you usually get to see.
"Historically the best marketers have been very astute about pointing out needs that consumers may not have been fully aware they had, be it dandruff, bad breath or body odor," says Jonathan Asher, a senior vice president at consumer-products research firm Perception Research Services International Inc. "People may have accepted a condition partly because no one pointed it out before or there was no remedy available."
Pity the pits thus neglected, their owners mistakenly believing that stubble or ingrown hairs, or for that matter hair left unkempt, were of minor concern.
Luckily, the Vogue empire is several steps ahead of us. First there was the surgical option, which Dodai commented on back in 2008: "Dodie Kazanjian penned a piece for August's Vogue titled 'Up In Arms,' and the subhead says it all: "With all the body parts we've grown to obsess over as we age, should armpits, too, be on the list?" In a word, Vogue says: Yes." But that was a different malaise, what Dr. Patricia Wexler told Vogue was "gludgeons, those fatty things that hang over a strapless gown." And last summer Teen Vogue was all over shilling for the Dove "piticure." How is that this awesome word didn't make it into the new ad campaign?