Douchebag Decree: Mae West and Frida Kahlo's Legacies Co-Opted in the Name of Feminine Hygiene Products
Back when we launched this series, we thought long and hard about calling it the "Douchebag Decree," ultimately deciding that a commodity designed to make women feel bad about themselves was a worthy title for a person, place, or thing in the news that was making women feel bad about themselves.
Every once in a while, the stars align and we bestow Ye Olde Decree—named for a feminine hygiene product—on an actual feminine hygiene product. Today is one of those star-aligning days: Meet this week's Decreed Douchebag, Damiva.
Joke's on you—I LIKE British comedies.
Damiva, a Canadian cosmetics company whose name is a portmanteau of the oh-so-lovely female descriptors "dame" and "diva," claims to be "empowering women's health" through its new vaginal moisturizer, the Mae. It's named for Mae West, because she was known for her unabashed sexuality (which I guess implies that she had a very moisturized vagina). Get it? Her vag saw a lot of hot action, and yours can too! For approximately $3 a pop (plus shipping!) the vagina-havers among us can experience a silver-screen-sex-bomb-level of confidence and hydration. Empowerment, thy name is Mae West vaginal cream!
More hirsute readers, fear not: This empowerment will soon be available for you to purchase as well. The Frida is a hair removal cream that is still in the testing phase. Are you a Frida Kahlo fan? Then sign up for a trial run! Clearly the renowned Ms. Kahlo's legacy can be reduced to her body hair, which was GROSS. It was so awful you should buy a cream "inspired" by it so that you never look like her. Art appreciation!
Frida Kahlo doesn't care about your body hair removal cream.
Now I don't think there's nothing wrong with vaginal moisturizers or hair removal creams, at least not in theory. Maybe you do want your hair removed, or some "help with vaginal dryness and feminine odor"; that's none of my business. (Though be warned that the Mae doesn't work with latex condoms.) The element du douche here is how Damiva uses the language of female empowerment to sell its products. There might be nothing wrong with hair removal cream, but there's nothing Frida Kahlo Approved about it either. Same goes for Mae West and the wettie lotion. And need I remind you that both of these iconic-women-turned-unwitting-lady-cream-hucksters are no longer with us, and therefore not around to defend their legacies against dry vagina jokes? So not cool.
Who's to say I don't still have terrible judgement?
In addition to the co-opting of feminist heroines, Damiva uses cheeky, irreverent language to seem like a "hip vaginal cream," if such a thing exists. "THIS AIN'T YO' GRANDMA'S VAGINAL CREAM!" it says. "[Insert joke here about how teenagers are horny and have bad judgment but enviably wet crotches!] Buy this lotion and feel young again (but also old, but in a sexy Mae West way)!" I like a little snark as much as the next vadge holder, but cloaking hair and odor removal products in hip lingo and aggressive branding–complete with first-person marketing copy—isn't fooling anyone.
The Mae moisturizer comes out next week, and the Frida hair removal will follow shortly after. What feminist legacy will Damiva co-opt into a cosmetic next? Gloria Steinem hair conditioner, to keep your locks silky smooth? Shirley Chisholm contact lenses, so you can lose those pesky eyeglasses? Betty Friedan hand cream for those feminine-mystiqued dishpan hands?
Or how about a Douchebag Decree-inspired douche?
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