Dear ChapStick, We’re Through

Pfizer Consumer Healthcare
PO Box 26609
Richmond VA 23261-6609

Attention – ChapStick Consumer Relations

To Whom It May Concern:

I have used your brand for 25years, ever since my mom put my very first tube of ChapStick in the bib pocket of my snowpants before heading out for an afternoon of sledding. I can remember feeling very grown up, and ever since I have had a tube or six of Cherry ChapStick in a pocket or arm’s reach. I have used your brand on my own children, and they know to swipe their lips before heading out to play during our chilly Wisconsin winters. That’s all over now.

ChapStick, we’re through. My family will not be using your brand again. I tried to tell you why on Facebook, but you deleted my comment. You deleted the comments of many, many women who spoke out against your objectifying ad “Where Do Lost ChapSticks Go?” prominently featuring the back end of a woman bent over a couch. In fact, before you deleted it, the photo file uploaded to your page by some intern was labeled “Ass”. I do not support companies that use the objectified body parts of women to sell their product. I do not support a company that deletes the voices of its female customers, but allow sexist and sexual comments from men to remain. I refuse support a company that disrespects its female customers, both in its advertising and social media outreach. As a woman, a mother, and a small business owner those actions offend me. 

Why you paid an advertising agency big dollars to use a woman’s “Ass” to sell me a product I put on my lips seems a bit off. Why you chose to go with the ad that sexualizes a woman and gives off that low budget, basement porny-feeling right at the beginning of the winter season when every parent across America is in need a good balm to put on her kid’s lips seems to me as though you don’t understand that women control 86% of consumer spending. There isn’t much in question about your ad – the odd pose, butt in the air, the skin tight jeans, the sexy blowing hair – it is all a mind-numbingly sophomoric use of implied sex to sell a product. The thing is, for everyone who uses (used) ChapStick, we know that those little tubes go missing all of the time, and there were dozens of other very clever ways for you to depict this. But you didn’t. You chose to go with “Ass”.

So I no longer go with ChapStick. This weekend I spent $16.00 on four tubes of Burt’s Bees and I love my new balm. I’ll be a Burt’s customer now, because I don’t have to worry about them sexualizing and degrading me or my daughter, nor reinforcing to my husband and son that women are nothing more than sex objects. That is simply not good enough for my family, and I do not accept it.

Sincerely,

Melissa Wardy

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UPDATE: Because ChapStick is deleting voices from Facebook and does not have a Twitter account, should you choice to join you voice and speak out against this, I encourage a mailed letter, or add your signature to the change.org petition:

http://www.change.org/petitions/ceo-pfizer-healthcare-chapstick-remove-ads-that-objectify-women-and-sexualize-lip-balm

“Turning a human being into a thing is almost always the first step towards justifying violence against that person.”- Jean Kilbourne, Wellesley Centers for Women, Miss Representation

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Updated Update: ChapStick has removed the ad and issue a really crappy apology that is both deflective and untruthful.

We see that not everyone likes our new ad, and please know that we certainly didn’t mean to offend anyone! Our fans and their voices are at the heart of our new advertising campaign, but we know we don’t always get it right. We’ve removed the image and will share a newer ad with our fans soon! We apologize that fans have felt like their posts are being deleted and while we never intend to pull anyone’s comments off our wall, we do comply with Facebook guidelines and remove posts that use foul language, have repetitive messaging, those that are considered spam-like (multiple posts from a person within a short period of time) and are menacing to fans and employees

Comments

  1. You Go Girl! I’m with you!

  2. Melissa,
    I heart you.

  3. I am so thankful for women like you.

  4. I can’t believe I haven’t seen this. My 8 tubes of Chapstick, just made their way to my garbage. Luckily I have 8 other types of balms/glosses that I use as backup (although they will now be my primary). How disgusting they are.

  5. What a seriously tacky ad. I can’t tell exactly what they are supposed to be trying to suggest here, but you’re right – there are about a million ways to get across the “lost Chapstick” message without something like this! gross.

  6. This ad seems like such an ‘own goal’ from chapstick. Who do they think actually buys their products?

    Who on earth is in charge of their marketing department? I just fail to see how this could have been signed off as acceptable and representative of their target market.

  7. Tab Martel says:

    Awesome Melissa, you are a true warrior for women and daughters. No more chap stick for my family either. We deserve better and we need to demand it. Thank you.

    • I think you need to find something to do Melissa. I’m glad I dont sit around trying to run the world and tell people what they should and shouln’t do. Blogging about something so insignificant in the grand scheme of things. I feel sorry for you. I’m sure you have something more important to do in your day.

      • Yes, because women and their social value are insignificant. I’m sure glad we have men like you to remind us of that.

        • All i’m saying is that if that’s all you have to worry about today, you’re in great shape…nice to know you’re livin up to your reputations. thanks.

      • Please reference the “Bingo card”.

      • Sorry Ted but I don’t agree. The persistent sexualisation of women is not insignificant. It is everywhere and I, for one, am glad that there are people like Melissa who stand up and say “THIS IS NOT OK!”.

        And to everyone else, don’t just chuck your Chapstick. Mail it back to the company with a letter saying why you’ve done so. They can’t delete that.

      • Sue Carney says:

        Ummm, Ted, you actually are sitting around telling people what they should and shouldn’t do. Please reread your post. I’m sure you have something more important to do in your day.

      • Oh, this comment stream is excellent! Glad you have time to read and then comment on posts you find irrelevant and trivial, Ted – perhaps this is your hobby? I’m guessing you don’t have daughters, Ted, and that you started reading this because of the titillating photo at the top, then got defensive and pissed because it was an article reprimanding the company that used the photo in its marketing campaign. It matters a great deal, and might warrant thought as to why you’re comfortable telling Melissa that she ought not spend her time telling others how they ought not be spending their marketing dimes.

        • Like!

        • Seems as if you’d be offended by just about anything…lol.I have fun with people like that. It’s ok. I’ll be the first one to defend the disrespecting of women and the treatment of women in that way. I’ll go get some carmex next time!

      • Ted you are totally missing the point
        its all about the little things, dont you know?!

      • But aren’t you sitting around telling Melissa what to do? Idiot.

  8. You tell ‘em! Thanks for speaking up for women who either weren’t aware or, sadly, have bought in to the idea that they are only important for their looks.

  9. Nicely said. Thank you.

  10. Really? A fully-clothed butt?

    The irony of you switching to Burt’s over a fully-clothed woman looking for chapstick on the other side of the couch is almost overwhelming.

    http://blog.pennlive.com/positiveparenting/2008/03/glad_i_boycott_burts_bees.html

    • Laura -
      Sexualization isn’t about nudity. It is about the lens with which we are shown a person. Or parts of a person. Thank you for the link in your comment, but that ad is nearly four years old. Do you have any more recent examples?

      • Actually, sexuality is about perception. I see a person (I had to look twice even to tell it was a woman as opposed to a man), fully clothed, not provocatively fully clothed, struggling to locate something dropped into couch cushions. What you are apparently disturbed by is called fetishism, or sexualization of something not normally associated with sex, like a fully clothed rear.

        That anyone sees it as sexual objectification is, I think, a matter of where your head is. For me, a man or woman might bend over for any number of reasons. For you, people apparently only bend at the waist to take one from behind. Sad.

        That’s your dirty mind, not mine, and more than likely not Chap Stik’s. As for the designation “ass,” that is what we mostly see, right? Crude, but accurately descriptive. I think you’re looking a bit too hard for something to offend you. Women are facing any number of difficult struggles for equality that get marginalized because folks like you get their dander up over minutia such as this. Check these out:

        http://www.afterelton.com/archive/elton/print/2006/6/commercial.html

        http://candid-cam.net/2011/08/17/abercrombie-fitch-continues-with-their-douchiness/abercrombie-fitch-457/

        Look at that. Men objectified in advertising. Congratulations. Equality.

        • If you seriously think that men are objectified in advertising to the same degree that women are, you need to pay more attention. Not only that, but sexualization of women and girls is tied to so many risk factors, not to mention sexual violence, that it’s hard to even make the comparison. The ass is selling the ad. It’s not an ass in loose fitting sweats or pajamas. It’s an ass in tight jeans. There is a reason for that.
          And BTW, the “minutia,” as you call it, can be more dangerous than the big, obvious stuff. Exactly because it’s not so big or so obvious. And it’s ALL AROUND US.

        • Suzy, you’re right that men are sometimes objectified in advertising. And in at least the first example you gave (http://www.afterelton.com/archive/elton/print/2006/6/commercial.html; not sure about the second), it’s about gay advertising. Which comes down to the same thing – selling products to *men* using sexually suggestive images. Those ads aren’t placed in women’s magazines, they’re for men.

          Here’s are a couple interesting quotes from the website you referenced:

          “Modern-day Puritans who froth and rage at the “sexualization” of men don’t seem to be aware that women have always been sexualized, only no one ever seems to notice. Why would they? It’s so ubiquitous as to be invisible, except to the women and girls whose souls it is crushing.”

          “The truth is, it just proves that this is still a man’s world. Men like to look; now that gay men have some measure of power, and the stigma about them has lessened a little, corporate America has decided it’s okay to give them something to look at.”
          http://www.afterelton.com/archive/elton/columns/2006/3/lastgayword2.html

      • Out of curiosity, Melissa, does that mean that this ChapStick ad will be “no big deal” four years from now, or will you need ongoing perceived-as-tacky ads to keep you upset enough to continue paying $4 a tube for Burt’s Bees?

        • RedHead -
          I know you are trying to be rude, but you actually bring up a good point that we talked about on twitter. Is there a statute of limitations on bad advertising? I honestly don’t know. Companies change, ad campaigns change, so I don’t know.

          As for paying $4 for Burt’s Bees, it was the only other choice at the store I was at, I only had time this weekend for one store. This weekend I’m taking my daugther to a boutique to make our own lip balm, while we talk about fun things like seeing the big picture, media literacy, and not using products for our family that degrade women.

      • So objectification isn’t about the act, it’s about a scale? Because it happens more to women than to men, we don’t worry about the men’s objectification?

        A narrow view, to say the very least. And if you think a Chap Stik ad in any way compares with the fact that girls in school are not performing up to their potential in math and science, or that women still make less on average than men performing the same jobs, your priorities are severely out of whack.

        You will not find one single study proving any kind of advertisement is a causal factor in violence, sexual or otherwise, toward women. If you can, and it’s from a legitimate, third party scientific source, I’d love to see it.

        Until then, I stand by the terming of this as “minutia,” not worthy of the attention of an intelligent, educated woman. Tempest in a teapot. All that.

        • THE POINT is not the male objectification. That is not being discussed here, and bringing it up muddies and obscures the point. Male objectification is sad too, sure. And there are forums for it. Go discuss it in those places.

          Would you go to a breast cancer fundraiser and say “Hey there. You know, prostate cancer is a real problem for men. Why aren’t you raising money for the male cancer as well? AREN’T YOU CONCERNED ABOUT THAT? No? Then why are you getting your panties in a bunch over just female cancer, you crazy sexist?” What you’re doing here – hijacking the discussion – is the same thing.

          Furthermore, the problem is not only that Chapstick used a sexist and degrading ad. The problem was that Chapstick deleted every comment made by a woman that was remotely dissatisfied and critical of the ad (despite SOLICITING FEEDBACK!) and left on the site every male comment that was sexual in nature. Can you honestly say now that Chapstick did not “intend the ad to be sexual in nature” if that was their response to the feedback they received?

        • THE POINT is objectification, period. And this ain’t it.

          If you want an example of objectification there are many better suited to the cause, ones that CANNOT be disputed—ads for personal hygiene products abound with half naked cut young men and supple young women. When this forum attracts people for its message and even those people disagree (and several here do) that this is actual objectification, it serves to weaken the issue immensely. Remember, you aren’t trying to preach to the choir; you want to change minds. I venture to say 95% of all people, men and women, wouldn’t qualify this ad as overtly, or even surreptitiously sexual in nature, and when you misidentify ads in this way often enough, the minds you are attempting to change close. Fact of life.

          Now, it’s adorable that you’ve created a little bingo game to belittle and compartmentalize objections for which you have no legitimate answer, and it’s wonderful that it helps you all rationalize not taking such objections seriously. However, there is a difference between looking for change, and looking for a fight. This smells an awful lot like just looking for a fight. There is no there there, as they say.

          Choosing just any old photo of a woman that isn’t staring straight at the camera in a burkha and calling it objectification is over the line for the vast majority of the population. You change minds speaking their language, not calling them names and questioning their intellect by insisting something like this ad is sexual. It. Just. Isn’t. Unless you just see sex in everything.

          If Chap Stik removed comments, and I truly believe they did, it is a typical corporate response to ANY negative comment. You think they get on Facebook for some kind of humanitarian reason? They are there to sell product. Anything that makes their ad, product or company look bad will be removed, that was their only motivation. Not a super secret good ol’ boy desire to silence women. That’s what we call paranoia.

        • Sue Carney says:

          Oh, Suzy. No, it’s not about scale. Of course sexual objectification of men is wrong too. But the comment I made was in reply to your statement: “Look at that. Men objectified in advertising. Congratulations. Equality.” I was just pointing out that it wasn’t equal. Sorry you missed that and chose to instead dismiss it as a “narrow view.”
          Additionally, we are all concerned about girls performance in math and science and women’s pay and many other inequalities. What you fail to see is that as long as we are sexualizing women and girls, their brains and all of the other marvelous things they have to offer will be seen as less important than their asses. Please connect the dots.

        • Sue,

          Research about the detrimental effects of sexualization in the media abounds! I’m including a few studies and reports I used in a research paper a couple of years ago. This ad uses a classic advertising technique called dismemberment. The woman’s “ass” is the whole focus of the ad. She is not addressed as a whole person, but only a body part. Picking apart women’s bodies in this manner desensitizes people to the degradation of women, increases rape myth acceptance, encourages violence against women, and lowers women’s self-esteem. Maybe it is “just an ad,” but it’s a dangerous piece of a dangerous puzzle.

          About-Face. (1996). Gallery of offenders.Retrieved September 6, 2008, from http://www.about-face.com.

          Egendorf, L. K. (2006). Advertisements stereotype women and girls. Opposing Viewpoints: Advertising. Retrieved September 6, 2008, from Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center database.

          Jayson S., (2007). Media cited for showing girls as sex objects. UsaToday. Retrieved September 6, 2008, from http://www.usatoday.com.

          Kahlor L. & Morrison, D. (2007). Television viewing and rape myth acceptance among college women. sex roles, 56(11-12), 729-739. Retrieved September 13, 2008, from Research Library database. (Document ID: 1297026631).

          Linz, D., Don Nerstein, E., & Penrod, S. (1988, November). Effects of long-term exposure to violent and sexually degrading depictions of women. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 55(5), 758-768. Retrieved September 6, 2008, from SocINDEX with Full Text database.

          Reichert, T., LaTour, M., Lambiase, J., & Adkins, M. (2007, Spring2007). A test of media literacy effects and sexual objectification in advertising. Journal of Current Issues & Research in Advertising, 29(1), 81-92. Retrieved September 11, 2008, from Business Source Complete database.

    • Here’s how I know it’s wrong, based on my own moral scale…

      1. Replace the woman with a man. Still inappropriate and objectifying? Yes.
      2. Replace the woman with a child. Still inappropriate and objectifying? Yes, definitely. And horrifyingly wrong.

      If they showed this same woman kneeling beside the couch digging through it in a non-provocative pose, I would have no problem with it. I put a child in the place of the model in her current pose and it makes me want to hurl.

  11. This ad is funny! I’m pretty sure we’ve all at one point had our ASS in the air looking for something (possibly even chapstick) behind or under the couch. That’s what makes this ad so relatable, and effective.

    How does this ad sexualize women? If that was a man behind the couch, it would be just as funny and in no way offensive. That “sexy blowing hair” looks more like “frantic frazzled where-in-the-world-did-I-put-my-chapstick hair” to me. If sexy, objectification was the point of this ad a guarantee you’d know it.

    Sorry Melissa, but I’m more offended by your offence to this ad than anything else. It is wrong that they deleted your Facebook comment when you spoke your mind, and you should have been given an explanation. Enjoy Burt’s Bees, it’s a great product too!

    • TSmith -
      It wasn’t just my voice that was deleted. It was dozens and dozens of women.

      This is the American Psychological Association’s definition of sexualization. Do you think any apply to this ad?

      There are several components to sexualization, and these set it apart from healthy sexuality. Sexualization occurs when:

      -a person’s value comes only from his or her sexual appeal or behavior, to the exclusion of other characteristics;
      -a person is held to a standard that equates physical attractiveness (narrowly defined) with being sexy;
      -a person is sexually objectified—that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making;
      -and/or sexuality is inappropriately imposed upon a person

      • Honestly? No. I don’t think having your ass to the camera while you look through a couch automatically puts you in a sexual position.

      • No. None of those apply to this ad, unless you employ some extremely narrow, personally defined logic.

        • ~a person is sexually objectified—that is, made into a thing for others’ sexual use, rather than seen as a person with the capacity for independent action and decision making; and/or

          Anyway, your comments have inspired me to play our Media Literacy Bingo cards tomorrow, thanks for all the great fodder!

    • How does this ad sexualize women? Research “the male gaze.” This could have been just as funny if the woman had been photographed from the side or from the front, where the emphasis was not on her ASS in the air. Instead, the viewpoint is straight on, her rear is centered so it is the first thing that we see (and the contrast of color also emphasizes it). The viewer in this scenario is consuming the woman, consuming her without seeing her as a person. That is how the ad sexualizes women.

  12. We no longer use chap stick either. We too have been using Burt’s Bees, simply because it works better and is more natural; although this ad and them removing oomments would have made me stop using theirs right away as well. I am more than willing to pay more for a product that is healthier AND morally respectful! I will pass this information on to friends and family. Thank you for bringing this to light and for sharing your well written letter.

  13. I disagree that the ad is “sexualized” (she’s just searching through couch cushions), but it is not right that they are deleting comments from the Facebook page. Likely, there is a single employee maintaining the comments that is deleting them, it’s not necessarily the company as a whole that believes certain voices should not be heard. If you are truly disappointed in the ad or way the FB page is maintained, you should contact the company directly.

    http://www.chapstick.com/contact-us

    • Yes, that’s why there is an address at the top of this post and it is written like a letter. Because I’m mailing it, thus contacting them directly.

  14. I’m pretty sure the idea for the “ASS” ad comes from the phrase “… really chaps my ass” its a play on the phrase with their name. If this offends you be sure to also not use Charmin products because of their “Does a bear shit in the woods?” campaign.

  15. Are you sure they deleted your post from Facebook? I see plenty of negative comments about it up there. Did you click “everyone” just above the wall posts so that you see comments by people other than just Chapstick?

    Maybe you did, I’ve just seen a lot of people angry that they had posts deleted when they were still up.

    • Yes, they really did delete her comments. And mine. And a whole lot more. I suspect the outcry over the censorship caused them to re-think that course of action.

  16. I recognize and honor free speech so I welcome your view but honestly, THIS is the battle your choosing to fight? That, I don’t understand. Look around, there are much greater media/advertising injustices that sexualize women AND CHILDREN out there than a fully clothed bottom on a chapstick ad. I think some people have gotten so “hyper-sensitive” to sexualization of women that they often look for this type of thing even when it’s not there. My advice, either crawl back under your 1950′s circa rock or try and deal with the changing times and media. THIS ad is not degrading or sexualizing to a woman. I find it both frightening and curious how it’s viewed as such.

    • This is the battle I choose to fight. Take a look around the blog a bit more.

    • I don’t think it is your or anyone’s place to judge the battles that others choose to fight. Not one you choose? Fine. But don’t disparage the fact that someone else is offended and chooses to use her voice to say so.

    • Melissa has every right to express her outrage. And to damage the efficacy of the women’s rights movement by focusing on a perceived injustice certain to make the vast majority of both men and women roll their eyes in disbelief, the result of which is decreased attention for the REAL issues, such as income and job inequality.

      But by all means, an ad with dubious connection to fetishism deserves the full focus of her attention.

  17. Would this ad bother you less if it weren’t an attractive woman? What if it were a little kid or a man? I’m sorry but this pose doesn’t even look remotely sexual to me- it just looks frantic and harried. Granted, using butts to get attention isn’t exactly *sophisticated* marketing but this is hardly the sexiest ad on the block.

    • How do you even know this woman is attractive? They don’t show her face; they don’t show her as a whole human being. They show her as an ass. Should we only object to the worst or the sexiest ads and let all the moderately offensive ones become acceptable?

    • If it were a child I’d be horrified!

  18. gracie's mom says:

    yes. absolutely. what she said. i will not be buying any more chapstick, either, and i will teach my daughter not to ever buy it as well. chapstick just lost two (or more) generations of customers. thank you so much for voicing exactly what i would have said myself!

    respectfully,
    amber (gracie’s mom)

  19. How arethey objectifying women? It shows the woman looking for her chapstick. There is nothing sexual about the photo or the copy. You’re the one with the dirty mind and the free times. Wow. Seriously. Women like you make all of us look bad at some point.

  20. TexMontana says:

    I think it’s good sense for a former customer to inform a company that they are no longer buying a product, and why. Of course there are greater injustices. But that doesn’t mean Melissa is being in any way unreasonable to voice her displeasure.

  21. Stephanie says:

    Dear Melissa,

    I’m sorry that you are a bored housewife who can’t take a little fun. I’m also quite sure that you enjoyed the Old Spice commercials with vigor. Please stop thrusting yourself upon the world, there are far mor opinions than your own. I agree that they should not have taken your voice away on Facebook, but its their page, and they can do what they want with it. For instance, I am going to post a picture of my Fiance with a tube of chapstick with a caption that reads “For those chaps out there” I assure you he will have a very vulgar smile on his face as though he is a stalker. Please start reading into our current issues of America like the Wall Street protests, the national debt, the potential candidates for president, or even the funding needed for a malaria vaccine.

    This from someone who is 21, a female, and who will continue using chapstick

    • Stephanie says:

      Oh, and by the way, enjoy Burts and Bees.

      http://blog.pennlive.com/positiveparenting/2008/03/glad_i_boycott_burts_bees.html?mobRedir=false

      Really great for women!

    • Not sure how bothered I am by the ad but ‘bored housewife’?! The woman runs her own business which recently included working through the night to send out hundreds of orders in a few days, and she brings up 2 kids. Somehow I doubt Melissa is bored and just hunting for things to fill all the free time she clearly has.

      • Laura -
        You got that right! I haven’t had free time since July. Keep your peepers popped for the Bingo card I’m going to share tomorrow. Stephanie’s comment inspired me.

    • Stephanie, glad you think Chapstick can do what they want with their own page. In the same vein, Melissa can do what she wants and say what she wants on HER OWN PAGE. If you are posting pictures of people with vulgar expressions posing as stalkers, perhaps your time could be better spent on investigating the current issues of America, as well. Just sayin.

    • LOL at “thrusting yourself upon the world.” You came and read this, right? Melissa didn’t sit behind you and put a gun to your head? She didn’t come to your house and force you to read it? Hardly thrusting oneself upon the world to post her opinion on her very own blog. *the horror*

  22. You must be joking, if we follow your way of thinking then every blue jean, underwear, perfume, and even every mattress ad will need to be removed just to name a few. They all at one time or another depicted women and men in a sexual way. When I first saw the ad I laughed because I have done that just looking for the remote everyone has. In fact it was not until I saw your post that I took another look and went yeah she is right that woman has a nice ass.
    Now in fact is they did delete your post yes that is wrong and I too would say something. And I am behind you 100% on that (no pun intended).

    • YES! You get it! EVERY ad that sexualizes persons should be removed!

    • Wil -
      I am not joking. And I don’t have a problem with sexy images used in advertising. But my kids don’t use some of the products you listed, so I don’t take issue with it as much. It isn’t sexy I have an issue with, it is sexual objectification. Those are two very different things, and the difference is an important one.

  23. I agree…I love vaginas and pictures of vaginas from the rear. This add is offensive as the jeans are in the way of me seeing her tasty, sweet vagina.

  24. Has anyone stopped to consider the possibility tht perhaps the message of the ad is that lost chapsticks go behind the sofa? and the file got named “Ass” becase a person’s ass is the most prominent thing featured in the picture……. LEANING OVER THE SOFA….. I do agree that this is not the best, or even classiest ad for chapstick out there. To cll it sexulized or even mildly pornographic is taking things to an extreme of feminazi’ism that is just rediculous. And to stop using a brand over something like this iimplies to me that you hve nothing better to do all day. For the record, Iam just a regular guy, who believes that women are also regular people who should be given regular rights. So no – I am not someone who thinks that women should be kept barefoot and preggers in the kitchen, or only playing cards and bingo. But still – give me a break.

  25. Looks like this really chapped your ass.

    Where were you all when men were portrayed as imbeciles in the media for 20-odd years while women were always portrayed as the heros? Are you flying off the handle every time a company uses an ad with a shirtless male? Somehow, I think not.

    You find this to be sexist and offensive, but then you turn around and defend your new choice of product (Burt’s Bees) for, arguably, an even more “sexist” ad. Why? Because you’d jumped on a new bandwagon and you don’t have the courage in your convictions to react in the same way.

    So an intern named a file photo “ass”? They probably should have chosen a better file name, but so what? It’s an ass in the air.

    I have a mother, and a wife, and a daughter. I am, by no means, in favor of sexism. But really…. your worries and your argument are ridiculous. Find something real to be upset about.

    • Wow, it totally slipped my mind that women have been controlling the media for “20-odd years”! I mean geez, look at all the stand-up, female heroes running amok on modern TV – The Kardashian sisters, The Disney Princesses, Oh, and let’s not forget the Toddlers & Tiaras and Dance Moms! You can’t change the channel without being bombarded by messages telling us, “Men are stupid eye candy! Women are the strong, intelligent role models we should look up to. After all, it’s not like any of those imbeciles get the girl/money/job, etc. in the end, do they? Oh, and I almost forgot video games! Clearly the strong women portrayed in them are given a feminine advantage via their gigantic boobs – you could easily take an opponent’s eye out with one of those!

      Oh, wait…
      http://www.thegeenadavisinstitute.org/research/
      http://blog.twowholecakes.com/2011/05/you-bitches-are-expensive/

      Never mind.

      • MamaA -
        Awesome. Just, awesome.

      • Who watches The Kardashians? Dance Moms? Toddlers & Tiaras (which I regard as the most horrifying thing on TV)? Who watches those shows? Women. Not men. The show I mention as being the most horrifying is produced by Lauren Lexton and Suzanne Pate — you will note as being women. Before you run around demonizing men perhaps you and many others ought to look in a mirror?

        • This issue is not about demonizing men! It is about the sexualization and objectification of women. We have many, many male allies in this cause; my husband, sons and most of my male friends, and there are many more men AND women who still do NOT get it. Objectifing and sexualizing women and girls has a negative impact on the self-esteem of many women and girls, and normalizes and supports dismissive attitudes and even violence against women. I hope you can stop feeling like you are being demonized – horror at the above shows would lead me to believe you are an ally!

    • S. Dagger -
      The ad that I think you are speaking of is old, and has not been in use for years. Burt’s Bees was the only other choice at the store I was at, so that’s what I bought. My convictions are so strong that this weekend I’ll be taking my daugther to a shop owned by an old friend of mine, and I’ll support a woman-owned small business and pay a nice sum to have the experience with my little girl of mixing and making our own balm and lotions.

      I invite you to explore the rest of the blog, especially as the dad to a girl, and see the bigger issues we dissect here.

      • I certainly approve of you supporting local business, but as a male who is the owner of a small business I always wonder how it would look if I advertised to men to “get out there and support a male-owned business”? Sexism goes both ways.

        Morality, smart choices, and self-worth begin in the home. When children start with that as a basis, the ridiculousness of media’s portrayals of women and men, both, becomes evident. It is an unfortunate fact that many parents are not so responsible or diligent. Because of that your site has value. But going to extremes — or demonizing men — in the process is not helpful.

        I believe you are overreacting on this ad.

        • I’m not sure how I am demonizing men in any way. ?

          The reason we don’t say “male-owned businesses” is because men are the default in our society. Sexism can most definitley go both ways, but this isn’t sexism. It is a simple statement that I am supporting a small business run by a minority represented in the business world – a female business owner. And as a female business owner, she doesn’t advertise like this.

      • Aha. So it’s a time issue. I trust in four years all will be forgiven with Chap Stik and you’ll go right back to using it with no qualms whatsoever.

        • Nah, I don’t think so, Suzy. I’m really loving Burt’s Bees.

          Your snark aside, as I said in another comment, I’m not really sure what the statute of limitations is on bad advertising, and if or how long we should allow for companies to change for the better.

          What I do know is that when we know better, we can do better.

        • Suzy,

          For someone who claims that this topic is not worthy of the attention of an intelligent, educated woman, I notice that you’re expending a lot of energy here, focusing on the “minutia” of the things that Melissa has said.

          That being said, while I find the ad inappropriate for lip balm, particularly with a tagline that could have been used in so many other imaginative ways, what I find most offensive is that Chapstick has been refusing to discuss any negative reactions with its clients, instead choosing to delete comments that disagree with their choice in photo. Personally, it wouldn’t be so much a time factor for me, as a change in attitude on the part of Chapstick.

          If you take the time to look at the comments under the Burt’s Bees ad, the first comment there is straight from a fellow from the Burt’s Bees marketing division, opening dialogue and communicating with the original author. I personally don’t find that Burt’s Bees ad offending. It’s selling skin cream, and shows skin. It’s tastefully done, IMO, whereas the Chapstick one seems to be a cheap, quick grab at people with a woman’s rear.

          As for men being objectified in advertising and media… well yes they are. And there are blogs and other websites and places fighting for their rights. I worry about that too, since I am raising a son and a daughter. This, however, is a place where we discuss, learn and do things about the objectification of women in an effort to educate and protect our daughters. And this post in particular is about an ad with a woman.

          I find Pigtail Pals a wonderful resource for support and ideas to help my daughter become all she can be. And the principles are the same for helping my son counteract the media as well.

        • No snark intended, really. I do mean that.

          I stated above that I think you are leading with a truly bad example. In my opinion, and you seemingly disagree, there are ads so much more blunt in their objectification. I know, I know. The insidious ones are worse and blah blah. Stay with me.

          Do you want to change minds, or start an argument? Because once you force someone to take a defensive position, your chance of getting them to see your point drops precipitously. If you honestly think MOST or even an appreciable number of people would find this ad in some way objectionable, then you and I won’t agree on this. If however, you agree that this is far too subtle to convince a person on the other side of the issue, why lead with it? It’s completely illogical.

          Now, hold up an ad for most any perfume, cologne, body wash, makeup, jewelry… you’ll see lots of objectification of the kind even the staunchest defender cannot adequately excuse. Start there. Then work your way into the insidious ones. It’s my opinion only, and I respect and defend your right to disagree. But I suspect ignoring this advice doesn’t do you any favors in terms of making converts to the cause.

          I think, if I understand you, the point is to effect change everyone agrees is needed; not argue over whether one specific ad represents what you personally think it does. This comments section is riddled with much of the latter, and not much of the former. That alone speaks volumes to the truth of what I’m saying.

        • Suzy, I’m thinking you mean to be empowering in your stance, but defiantly not seeing what ChapStick meant you to see in this ad and berating others for standing up and speaking out on what may seem a little issue to you I actually find wholly disempowering. Accusing the viewer for seeing the ad as it was meant to be seen then takes that disempowerment into a place of active hostility. Laura, you don’t get this, either? I am parenting an eight year old girl, and watching her suddenly tuning into the onslaught of negative female portrayal in our culture is staggering. Do I have an issue with her seeing the Burt’s Bees ad from four years ago? No, actually. I see my daughter casually hanging out naked (and tan) with a backdrop of trees all the time. I never found this ad sexually provocative and in fact rather enjoyed it’s positive message that natural is beautiful. As I witness my daughter waking up to how her gender is portrayed in the advertizing that permeates our culture, it’s these kind of ads that I find the most terrifying. My daughter can look at an overtly sexual ad for liquor or Hooters or lipstick, and quickly see herself as different and know it’s her choice not to emulate these women. It’s the ChapStick type ads where it just doesn’t make sense but just doesn’t feel right, isn’t funny, clever, or quite true-to-life that I cringe at having to explain to her, cringe at watching her wrestle with why someone might try to sell ChapStick with that particular image. It’s insidious and that’s why it’s dangerous. Someones might lack just enough self-confidence to believe it when a man or woman tell her she’s overreacting to an ad like this even though it just feels wrong to her on a creepy, uncomfortable level. I don’t lack that confidence, neither does this blogger, and I’m hoping it’s hearing these voices that empowers her to believe in herself.
          Defining women generally as being overly reactive has been a way we’ve been demeaned by men and by ourselves. So let’s not go there. Let’s listen to one another, and if you really do think someone is overreacting, isn’t the best way to let that be known just to not respond?

        • Melissa is communicating an important message to the world. What is the point of the whole world hearing and understanding, if the message they are getting is so watered down as to be irrelevant? Melissa is not running for politics, Suzy. She does not bend her morals in order to garner popularity.

    • “Where were you all when men were portrayed as imbeciles in the media for 20-odd years while women were always portrayed as the heros?”

      *Men* produce, write, direct, and star in most of the crap on TV that portrays men as imbeciles with a perky female sidekick. Are there women in Hollywood – of course. But the vast majority of all of those roles I just listed are still men. Advertising execs? Mostly men. People who write articles infantalizing men as bozos for magazines like Mens’ Health? Still men.

      In reality, studies show that feminist women actually like men more than non-feminist women. I suggest starting here:
      http://www.thefword.org.uk/blog/2009/07/non-feminist_mo and here:
      http://shakespearessister.blogspot.com/2009/08/man-haterz.html and following the “Patriarchy Ain’t a Picnic for Men Either” tag for more from the second source. Are they feminist blogs? Yes. But they are also blogs – like this one – that regularly talk about the effect of cultural misogyny on men and boys as well as women and girls.

  26. Thank you for posting this, I just ordered a case of Natural Ice and shall be using it the rest of the winter.

    xox

  27. I switched to Burt’s Bees a while back, because the camphor in ChapStick makes my lips itch, but I will certainly NOT be buying ChapStick in the future for my kids or husband. To be frank, I know what my husband would think & do if he caught me in that position, and, coarse and crass as it is, I don’t want to associate that with a product my children use!

  28. kali shey says:

    As a woman, I have to say it doesn’t bother me in the least… in fact, I’ve been in that very position many a time looking for stuff myself (lip balm, my iPhone, my bluetooth, etc.)

  29. Personally, I think that maybe they could have used a picture with a frazzled hair woman with her purse turned upside down in her hands, with all the contents of her purse on the table with that “where did that chap-stick go?” look on her face. . . that would have gotten my attention much more than the big “ass-end up” looking over the couch!

    • Exactly! And I would have identified with that ad, and thought is was clever.

      • Yup! And really, unless I am a pig myself, with her bent over and where did her chapstick get lost? Where are they suggesting that her “chapstick” went? The fact of the matter is, from the time girls are born, we are setting themselves up to be objectified and not appreciated for their brains. First it’s all pink and princess, and then they’re taught that they have to be pretty and perfectly coifed while they see their older sisters being taught that if they’re thin, pretty and sexy they’re worthwhile. If not, they’re worthless fatsos and ugly to boot. Just look at all of the comments on pictures of celebrities. People just sit there and make remark after remark analyzing every attribute or lack thereof of a celeb. It’s disgusting and demeaning. Once women had the chance to gain the world, we started getting inundated with information telling us to obsess over our appearances. Read Hating Women by Boteach Schmuley. He’s a rabbi who noticed this very thing about women, and I have profound respect for his ability to see all of this for what it is.

  30. I have a full of awesome 2 year old daughter and 2 teenage step-sons to be an example for and I will not apologize for refusing to be silenced. God gave me a fierce voice so that I could use it for what I believe in. If that makes me the ta…rget of opposition, it’s worth the risk to get people to think. We’re the ones taking the flack for saying what other people will not. We’re the ones refusing to accept complacency with what our kids are subjected to. We’re the ones raising kids producing the next generation of thoughts and ideas. Let’s teach them to challenge thought and to not be okay with that which does not sit well with them. The media bombardment is incredibly frustrating, but to do nothing when feeling passionately about something isn’t using the gift God gave you, nor teaching children or others to do the same. I am overwhelmed by the circle of moms and dads out there posting and sharing and commenting on your blog and Facebook page and I am grateful I am not alone.

  31. Jennifer Sauter-Price says:

    Let’s send this to “MomsRising.org” and get a campaign going to Chapstick. I totally support you.

  32. I don’t understand how this ad can be viewed as anything but offensive! That is my personal opinion. Now for some facts. Large injustices are allowed because small injustices have become commonplace. Now does that negate the fact that smaller battles need to be fought? Know the quote, “You may have won this battle but you have not won the war?” That is what is occuring here people. We are fighting a war here, a war against sexualization. By allowing the sexualization of adult women we are slowing allowing the sexualization of children. Look at clothing. And yes there are MANY offensive adds out there, that’s the problem. The difference between the sexualization of men and the sexualiation of women is that society only places value on a woman’s looks/body. If you don’t believe that, look at employment stats, women make less than men, there are less women in positions of power, there are less women than men in Congress; really the stats go on and on. I prefer to fight both the large and small battles; our daughters and sons are waiting for us to fight them. Care to join me?

  33. Melissa Duge Spiers says:

    Hello. I wrote an article about this ad several days ago for the blog Reel Girl. The vitriolic responses from many people on SFGate, ReelGirl, here on Pigtail blog, and other places have saddened me greatly. Do the really offensive & dangerous websites (like those that post photos of gore & death or teach people how to make bombs) get the same number of incredibly vicious, personal attacks that feminist writers/bloggers get every day? It seems not. I recently saw a website that was so awful, so horrible in its glorification of gore, death, crime, and other unspeakable acts that it literally made me ill, but its comment section didn’t have half of the petty, mean, and childish responses that seem to come forth with boring predictability whenever anyone voices reasonable questions about sexism. I would simply challenge all those who criticize here – especially those who snipe about ‘finding something real to do’ – to go out and find one of the really sickening, awful, horrible things that exists within one click…and aim all of your personal attacks, simplistic arguments, and general nastiness at that while we simply try to make a more equal world for everyone’s daughters, neices, and granddaughers.

    • Hi Melissa!!
      Your post on Reel Girl was fantastic! It was brilliant, actually.

      It is astonishing, really, the vitriol spewed at feminist bloggers. And it only encourages me to work harder. Thanks for being in the fight with us.

  34. As a mother of a 2 year old girl, I’d like to thank you for bringing awareness to this very important topic.

    I must admit that 3 years ago, I would have viewed this ad and not given it a second thought. But now, I’m a mother of a little girl and I’ve started to look at a lot of things differently.

    As I read through some of the more negative comments posted here, I CAN see where they are coming from. That place is called desensitization. I believe we have become so accustomed to seeing objectification of women (and men) in advertising that it seems normal. I think if people stepped back and really “looked” at this image, they might have a different opinion. You have to look at these things through a different lens. I don’t think most people truly understand how being bombarded by these images impacts the overall perception and attitudes towards women. Many people cited being more concerned about equal pay and representation. But, how can you obtain those things when women are constantly objectified as sexual playthings?

    I went to Facebook and read through some of the comments posted for that image and there were plenty of comments from men that proved exactly the point you are making.

    Every battle is worth fighting when it comes to the world my daughter will have to navigate. Maybe it takes being a parent of a daughter to fully understand this. Unfortunately, that’s what it took for me to become aware. Keep up the good work. Our daughter’s (and son’s) futures depends on it.

  35. I use Carmex :) super cheap and you can use it on cracked or dry skin as well as lips.

  36. Thank you, I shared with everyone I know. another alternative: EOS lip balm ( shaped like an egg is 97% natural and no waxy taste)

  37. Eileen, you’ve either not carefully read or intentionally mischaracterized what I stated. I never said the subject was not worthy of the attention of an intelligent educated woman. I said this kind of minutia is. Huge, giant difference. Subject good. This expression of subject, not so good.

    So let me understand you—you are outraged that when you attempted to call out a company IN THEIR FORUM on Facebook, publicly embarrassing them and suggesting something they most likely never intended, that they refused to engage you? If you expected a few rounds of civilized discourse from a corporation while simultaneously calling them sexist pigs, you are missing a few ticks on your reality meter, Eileen.

    I feel this is the main issue with much activism. There is so much passion and outrage, that we forget to be civilized, and then interpret the defensive response at our overreaction as further proof of wrongdoing. It’s a vicious cycle that accomplishes little.

    But opinions differ. I choose to side with those who feel there was no malfeasance here. I feel our time is better spent attacking examples of overt sexism that are impossible to argue. It makes us look more like concerned parents and less like lunatic fringe, which is what I promise you Chap Stik has dismissed this as.

    • Well, Suzy, my apologies if I misread your statement. But my statement that you’re spending an awful lot of your time here picking apart the comments still stands.

      For the record, my statement to Chapstick was fairly innocuous, expressing displeasure, but hardly calling them out and it was still deleted. And you seem to forget that this is a forum where they expressly asked for feedback, not just their general forum. They invited people over there to comment.

      But as for the rest of your comment here, did you actually read it as you typed? Because talk about the pot calling the kettle black. No one forced you to be here to discuss this. If you think this is a ridiculous waste of time that is just going to be dismissed anyways, why are you here? Why aren’t you somewhere else fighting against more overt forms of sexism?

      I agree that they need to be addressed, but just because overt objectification needs to be spoken out against does not mean that we should let the smaller things slide. It’s the smaller things that desensitize us into thinking the obvious things are okay too. That’s the reason why the media gets away with majorly inappropriate stuff, because they started small and worked up to the bigger stuff. And now so much of our population is so desensitized to it that they keep doing more and more outrageous things and people just sit back and say, whatever.

      I am passionate about ensuring that my daughter can take any path in life she wants without needing to compromise her values. There’s no reason I shouldn’t be.
      But I am capable of having a reasonable discussion about it without being completely rude.

      I don’t have a problem with you having a different opinion than me, but I am extremely curious as to why our discussion on this forum has enraged you to this extent. Because none of your comments here are the type to garner sympathy, and you are certainly far too rude to convert anybody over to your point of view. So why all this effort then?

  38. a visitor says:

    I like this thread. I don’t agree with everything said here, but I like that people are talking intelligently and respectfully (well, more respectfully than in other places I’ve seen on the internet).

    It’s not easy to discuss things when you disagree. I’m impressed by the effort that commentors and the author have made to be clear and non-judgemental. Respect.

  39. You’re what we call a “pre-angry”. Always prepared to get into a fight about any little thing. Not only that, but HOPING to get into a fight about any little thing. You’ve taken the ad out of context. You need a hobby.

  40. I really appreciate this website and the awareness it raises. I am very concerned about our culture and the messages it sends to girls (and boys). I have read nearly every book there is r/t sexualization of girlhood/ sexualization and objectification of women. I am a mother of two young girls, and I am very aware of all the subtle and not so subtle messages that are put out there by the media. I am disgusted every Halloween by the selection of costumes for girls. It’s disgusting!! We also steer clear of most cartoons geared to girls; actually,we don’t watch TV (only netflix and DVDs) so that we can avoid/screen all the advertising that our kids are exposed to. My point bringing all this up is, I am not ignorant just because I have a different opinion than you. I do not need to “learn more” and I will not “come around” as you suggest on your FB page. You are being disrespectful to the women who do not agree with your stance. I am fed up with sex being used to sell, but I think you missed it with this one. This ad does not appear to be sexual. She is not in a sexual pose. Certainly, people may have different interpretations of this ad. They are OPINIONS not facts. I am offended that you have been dismissive and belittling to us who have not interpreted the ad as you have. You make it sound as if we are not as evolved as you, not as educated an aware. Give me a break. You know, your website has a good message and could really raise some awareness. But this kind of thing just pushes people away. I think you have handled this poorly.

    • Hi Kara -
      I haven’t been dismissive, dispectful, or belittling to anyone. I’ve let every comment stand, including the ones that tear me apart. I’ve allowed a large dialogue to take place, and when it gets off track I have tried to redirect. The Facebook page did get very snarky and at times rude yesterday, but that didn’t come from me. If you don’t agree with me on this one ad, that is fine. So we don’t agree, I can live with that.

      But this isn’t really about *just* this ChapStick ad. My post on Facebook this morning isn’t about just this ad, and whether or not people agree with me on this *one post*, it is about our collective conversation, and the teaching, we are trying to do. As always, it is about the BIG PICTURE.

      It sounds like you get the big picture, so please don’t internalize a general post that really has nothing to with you. That Facebook post and the blog post I’m about to publish aren’t about the people who disagree with me on this singular topic, it is about the people who dont’ see any problem at all.

    • This is the blog post I spoke of earlier. Again, Big Picture. Media Literacy Bingo: http://is.gd/yCrM61

      And if you were to go back and notice, I didn’t reply to or delete anyone on the Facebook page who disagreed with me. I let their comments stand, and be part of our conversation. I’d like to see some screen shots of the dismisive and belittling comments you feel I made that were so offensive.

  41. Wow. I am incredibly disheartened by some of the ‘conversation’ that is taking place on this particular blog by Melissa. I am frustrated to see how many women are buying into the social roles and sterotypes that have been prescribed for us. I am not a pervert, I am not preoccupied with sex, and I am not bored. When I look at this ad by Chapstick, I see a faceless (headless, even) woman with her ass front and center, pushed into the air, knees spread. Her hair is blowing in the who-knows-what, as there is no wind in the house, I presume. A hand that must be hers is reaching up from behind the couch in a position that is not physically possible, assuring me that person creating this image could care less if unimportant apendages such as arms are attached (also a subtle nod to dismemberment).

    For those that think this ad is no big deal and this outrage is nonsensisical, I am just as perplexed by you as you are by me. Maybe if I step away from this ad in particular I can make sense to you. This type of portrayal of women is a death by a thousand cuts. Our young girls – and we as grown women – are exposed to THOUSANDS of messages a day that help shape our perception of ourselves and our place in the world. Perhaps this ad or that commercial isn’t so bad; harmless, really…and you talk that way until you’ve been exposed to 10,000 headless, sexualized, super thin, silenced, submissive, sterotyped images of women.

    What’s normal and acceptable in our minds is based on what we have been shown. I choose to show my daughter something different. In an attempt to let her develop her own sense of self, without being told what that looks like, I limit her exposure to commericals, media, advertising, violence, and other images I feel would sway her developing psyche. As has been mentioned before, if subtle racism was being used (which is often is, by the way), we wouldn’t be having this argument. Just as white folks (myself included) are able to enjoy the privledge of seeing our race represented daily in positions of power and influence, in history books, in popular culture and in toys, etc; men enjoy the daily privledge of seeing themselves in these roles. Women have to look harder. The spell checker on my smart phone wants me to correct “Congresswoman” to “Congressman”. Death by a thousand cuts.

    What does a 13 year-old girl think when she sees this ad by Chapstick? I bet you chould show it to 100 of them, and 90 would tell you they wish they were thin, or had a butt like that. Because it’s in their face. All. The. Time. I choose something else for my daughter, and myself. And it’s not Chapstick.

    • This made my stomach clench: “you’ve been exposed to 10,000 headless, sexualized, super thin, silenced, submissive, sterotyped images of women.”

    • What Penny said!

      Sorry, I keep starting to make a comment of my own, and then I come across someone who has said it so much better, I just want to echo them.

      Maybe my own words will come to me soon. In the meantime, I’m still trying very hard to wrap my mind around why some people are NOT disturbed by this ad. I do want to converse with you, but I think we’re not speaking the same language, so I’m struggling for words. As Penny said, “I’m just as perplexed by you as you are by me.”

      • I had the same reaction to begin with! I was really frustrated and found I couldn’t find the words to even defend myself to people fast enough. A few days of stewing produced my eventual response. I just wish I could have come up with it sooner, when all the antis were posting. : )

  42. thank you, melissa, for sharing this. i shared your post via facebook, & posted a couple of comments at chapstick’s fb page. i’ll be trying burt’s balm from now on, too.

    again, thank you thank you for covering this type of media misogyny. keep on keeping on, & i’ll continue to spread the word.
    :)

  43. I don’t understand why this is sexist, I mean I get it a woman is fully clothed bent over the back of the couch in what looks the process of finding an errant chap stick, or is it that it’s just sexist because it’s a woman? Would a man doing the same thing be seen as sexist or just an act of searching for a lost item? I also wonder if you know that the facebook page is not the place to voice opinions or be upset about deleted comments, look at the supposed moderator or creator of the page, then ask yourself if an “intern” posted it with a label that was less than flattering what makes you think that person is still there? I have one more question as well, why if you are so upset about this are you giving the advertisement publicity?

    • It’s not sexist (attitudes or behavior based on traditional stereotypes of sexual roles). It is SEXUALIZED (to render sexual; endow with sexual characteristics). See the difference? It’s sexualized because it renders the act of looking for a lip balm behind the couch as a sexual act.

  44. So well said. Thank you for taking the time to speak out against advertisements such as this one. I see quite a few disgusting examples of sexualization in advertisements and even editorial content, yet I think I’ve become so used to them and so surrendered to the belief that I can’t change anything that I don’t take action. Thankfully people like you do just the opposite!

    Also, Burt’s Bees uses better ingredients and has a focus on environmentalism and sustainability, so there’s just a little icing on the cake to your new product switch.

  45. I don’t understand the hostility in these responses.
    It would have been a great ad — maybe for toilet paper.

    the objectification of women is sometimes so subtle we as women don’t even notice it ourselves

  46. Not many people are mentioning it, but the disembodied hand coming up at an angle that is not physically possible is worse to me than the butt.

    In my opinion, this ad has less to do with sex and more to do with objectifying a woman – literally, turning her into an object. Remember, you have to mentally, emotionally, spiritually or physically turn a human being into an object – a thing – before you can stop treating her like a human being.

  47. As a father of a 6 year old son and a 3 year old daughter I am kind of torn here. There is a part of me that thinks an ad with a butt in the air is playing on the fact that butts are funny to some people. Funny like my 6 year old finds butts funny. I don’t know if that was more what they were going for. Not the most high-minded joke but still not sexualizing it. That being said I have a 3 year old daughter (it is what prompted me to start following this blog) and because I saw this ad in the context of your letter for the first time it struck me as sexual. I don’t know if I saw it just in passing if I would have thought it was offensive and sexual or just kind of tacky. I do commend you for changing your brand of choice. I also know Burts is substantially more expensive so even more credit goes there. More people need to understand that every time we open our wallet we have the greatest voice capitalism gives us. We can do more with the way we spend then the way we vote.

    • Hi Bk -
      Sure, butts are funny. I started chuckling as a read your comment. As a woman, I find the ad offensive and sexual. I have certainly seen other ads or products that people are freaking out over, and my reaction is, “Eh, I’m just not seeing it.” So it is okay if this one ad didn’t bowl you over, but I want parents focused on the Big Picture. I love your comment because it shows how you can be a caring parent who is aware of the issues, but maybe not waving the banner with every discussion.

      Here’s why I think it matters: The viewer of this ad is forced to consume this woman, ass first. It is all we really see of her, and your eye can’t move to any othe part of the ad and not still predominently see her ass. For a product meant for the face. But we don’t see her face, we see her ass. She stops being a person. She becomes a thing. Breaking people down in to things is the first step towards violence against that person (Jean Kilbourne). You are a dad to a little girl. Whether we agree on this ad or not, we have to agree that women are not objects and not just for sex. We are whole beings.

      I hope you keep reading this blog, and keep looking at the Big Picture, because we need the world to be a much safer and healthier place for your daughter and for mine.

  48. Burt’s Bees ads are historically better? At least ChapStick had clothes on their ad woman…

    http://blog.pennlive.com/positiveparenting/2008/03/glad_i_boycott_burts_bees.html

  49. As a man, (formerly a husband, and currently a father of a 13 yr old girl and a 16 yr old boy), I have this to say..

    I thought the ad was hilarious.

    Reason: I’ve often witnessed my (ex)wife, step-daughter, and my daughter flipping over cushions, half-trashing beds, and dumping out purses in pursuit of newly-purchased-recently-lost tubes of lip balm, regardless of brand. Yup, they looked a lot like this.. so this ad cracks me up, and gives me lots of jokes for next time my daughter loses her balm.

    While I did see an “@$$”, I also saw a tensed bare foot, wild hair, a hand braced for leverage, and jeans that looked uncomfortably stretched (and not very flattering at that angle). She isn’t in a thong (surprising these days.. let’s face it, way too much sex in advertising is a sad truth), or in any clothing that I think would be found objectionable were she standing upright cheerily applying her lip balm.

    I say all of that to say this: I think this ad in particular may be taking a bit too much heat. Trust me, as a father trying to raise both my son and daughter to respect themselves and others, I agree with the need to be vigilant. In this case.. maybe hyper-vigilance is what we’re seeing.

    That’s just my opinion, so it isn’t worth much once it leaves my mouth. :)
    Thanks for listening, and keep up the good work (no sarcasm).

    • Hi Jon -
      Can I ask you something, no sarcasm or snark, but how would you feel if that was your daughter’s ass, in the air and legs spread, used to sell someone’s product? Would it still be hilarious? Because we never see her stand up, or apply her lip balm. We see her ass. Bent over. Trust me, its sexual. The company knew what they were doing, right down to the color and shape of the pillow next to her.

      Interestingly, ChapStick’s next ad campaign features a tastefully posed naked model, and those don’t bother me. It isn’t about nudity or near-naked or thongs, it is about objectification. You sound like a great dad. I’m willing to bet you’d be bothered if your 13yo girl was reduced to nothing but an ass in tight jeans. If not, I would be offended for you.

      I do appreciate you commenting, and disagreeing in a civil way and explaining why you did. Thanks for reading the blog, hope you come back for more posts.

  50. To all those who find this ad offensive….

    I guess you make all your own clothes, grow your own food, build your own homes, never read newspapers, and never watch TV or movies. There isn’t one company in the world that doesn’t use sex to promote there products.

    You people obviously have too much free time on you hands.

    • Yup, and I made the computer I write my blogs on.

      My company, Pigtail Pals, is a company in this world that doesn’t use sex to sell products.

      Now back to my free time! Whee!

  51. After re-reang some of the other comments here, as well as my own previous comment. Then reading the newer comments, I have reconsidered some of my opinions:
    1) Most people _like_ to be found attractive. Petty creatures that we are become ‘catty’ toward members of the same sex found being more attractive than we are.Often with words like – “objectifying”, and “sex symbol”. I have never heard of an unhappy “Hooters Waitress” nor have I ever seen a sexy women’s lib’er. (Not that they don’t exist – Im sure they do – but I personally have not seen them. [Kinda like I don't personlly know anyone who helped Brittany Spears become a Platnum album seller... but apparently it happened])

    2) Don’t feed the trolls. I know I have responded twice to this blog post – but this second response is more of a public service annoncement: You are all being trolled into responding . Waste your time elsewhere – perhaps Maxim has a good story on their site?
    ……….2a) – - – - The More You Know! *ding!*

  52. FairyKukla says:

    There’s a far better reason to refuse to buy Chapstick.

    They use petrolatum, which is gross for a wide variety of reasons. Might I suggest Burt’s Bees instead? A friendly company that doesn’t even spend very much on advertisement, the beeswax formulas are wonderful!

  53. Don’t do what you’ll have to find an excuse for. A proverb. This applies to what ChapStick has done with their ad. Now they’re making excuses after doing something that some of their customer didn’t like. Honestly, I’m not that offended by the ad itself. But after knowing that they could have actually made a better one, that’s just plain stupid.

  54. I think people are just a little sensitive nowadays. If the woamn was in a mini-skirt, bent at the waist, then yes, it would be objective and offensive. If the picture was taken head on of a woman in a tube top, leaning over a drawer so you could see down her shirt that would be offensive. This is a person who happens to be female frantically looking for something behind the couch. She is wearing normal, tasteful clothes. So, we just shouldn’t have women in ads unless they are from the neck up with their mouth closed?

    “…sexualizes a woman and gives off that low budget, basement porny-feeling…” Seriously? So, if you bend over to look for something in your own house, you just started a low-budget porn? Come on…

    Could the ad have been shot on mroe of angle? Sure. But the pic is a wide shot of a couch with the woman on it…they are not zoomed in on any part of her body. There is absoultely nothing sexual about the position she is in. I am sure there are FAR more sexual and objectifying ads out there for products that do not need sex to sell them, and I think that this is getting blown WAY out of proportion.

    • Brian -
      The rest of your comment aside, this now-removed Chapstick ad is directly mimicking American Apparel, right down to the font used. AA is known for a marketing tack that reeks of barely-legal basement porn.

  55. So sad to hear about Chapstick. Actually I am a user of their lip balm for a long time, and I can’t believe there’s an issue about them today. Hope they can fix their problem soon. Thanks for this post.

  56. I don’t honestly see anything wrong with this ad, and I’m pretty conservative (I hate the new Dr.Pepper 10 “just for men” campaign). It’s her @$$, fully clothed and I don’t think she’s in a suggestive manner. I see people’s thongs poking out of their jeans on my way to class and I have to deal with that, this is a perfectly acceptable ad and its extreme to boycott chapstick for it.

  57. Yet you switched to a product that did a similar move in 2008, only the woman was naked.

    http://blog.pennlive.com/positiveparenting/2008/03/glad_i_boycott_burts_bees.html

    You should probably do so research before committing to another brand over a picture that was chosen for an add.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] via Mommy Wants Vodka: With All The Love In The WorldPigtail Pals: Redefine Girly: Dear ChapStick, We’re ThroughZ Recommends: A Daily Calendar For KidsWhat She Said: The HayrideMoments That Define Life: Raising [...]

  2. [...] lip balm.  What?  That’s right.  Read Wardy’s open letter to the company, “Dear ChapStick, We’re Through.”  This isn’t exclusive to ChapStick, as we all know, and is an issue that is [...]

  3. [...] The reaction to the ad was compounded by Chapstick’s novice social media move – someone from Pfizer was policing the Facebook fan page to erase any negative talk about the ad, yet the same social media hawk allowed the blatantly sexist comments to live freely on the page. This was described by a blogger who wrote a post entitled “Dear Chapstick, We’re Through.” [...]

  4. [...] happened to make a brand with a loyal, lifelong following of female customers who buy ChapStick for themselves and their kids, shift their marketing strategy so [...]

  5. [...] “There isn’t much in question about your ad – the odd pose, butt in the air, the skin tight jeans, the sexy blowing hair – it is all a mind-numbingly sophomoric use of implied sex to sell a product. The thing is, for everyone who uses (used) ChapStick, we know that those little tubes go missing all of the time, and there were dozens of other very clever ways for you to depict this. But you didn’t. You chose to go with ‘Ass,’” wrote Redefine Girly’s Melissa Wardy, who know proudly uses Burt’s Bees (read here). [...]

  6. [...] hit mainstream media. We’ve seen this before a dozen times (think JC Penney t-shirt gate, Chap Stick, LEGO, sexist Abercrombie tees, SPARK girls vs Seventeen), so this in and of itself is not [...]

  7. [...] posted the ad above, a couple of (female) bloggers decided it was sexist and offensive.  Not a huge deal, except then ChapStick apparently started deleting negative comments about [...]

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