Bush Shaving: The Musical!

A new series of ladies' razor ads boasts the least subtle visual metaphors since Georgia O'Keeffe.

Published April 7, 2009 10:30AM (EDT)

Let's hand it to Wilkinson Sword ad group. In its new series of international ads for the Quattro for Women bikini razor, it manages to combine bouncy jingles with the most heavy-handed symbolism since Georgia O'Keeffe, all while tossing in a fair amount of finger-wagging bodily disgust.

In the company's MGM-worthy U.K. commercial (posted below), a comely, cat-wielding lass declares her cure for the blues is to "mow the lawn." As she and a bevy of pals push their mowers (pink, of course), they winkingly sing that "some bushes are really big," although the Asian chick has a bonsai that's "really small." I swear to God:

 They then proceed to “Mow it! Do it! Cut it! Trim it!” into acceptably "tidy" shrubbery. And when our heroine, a pair of springtime buds at crotch level, declares her fondness for seeing "tulips on the mound," the universe chuckles knowingly at what could almost pass for subtext. Buy the Quattro and you will TOTALLY get head, girlfriend! One marvels at how the commercial manages to lack a taco- and clam-eating scene. For the finale, Mower Girl triumphantly holds her kitty again, who is now Mr. Bigglesworth bald.

The French version features a similar green theme. This time, an icy blonde and two techno cohorts sing an invitation to "Ma Garden Party" while pruning away at topiaries with a vigor that would spook Edward Scissorhands. "Coup coup!"

To their credit, the Wilkinson ads cleverly acknowledge the whimsy of the whole enterprise. The things that make us feel sexy, after all, are often the very things that make us feel playful and silly as well. That's why I'm a firm supporter of a woman's right to choose whatever form of genital hair styling makes her happy. Dye it purple, hang some charms, carve a few Vanilla Ice lightning bolts or go full-on scorched earth if that's your thing. The garden, after all, is a wonderland of recreational possibilities.

It's also more than occasionally a total freaking landmine -- witness the passionate and wildly disparate responses to our recent story on "Wetlands" author Charlotte Roche and, in particular, her assertion that "I hate shaving, but I shave because I want to be an attractive woman and I don't want people to throw stones at me in the street."

That brings us to the not-so-pretty other message of the Quattro campaign that casts a pall on the whole lawn party. In the midst of all this happy, nay, borderline-frantic bush maintenance, the bouncy revulsion at anything less than a perfectly manicured muff comes through loud and clear.

Our English rose won't abide "a mess," "weed" or being "rough around the edges," while our Gallic Lady Gaga of pubescaping pouts, "C'est moche moche and I don't like it!" as she tosses away a photo of -- is that a water buffalo? "C'est rustique!"

Once again, a crushingly homogeneous aesthetic is aimed squarely at the root of our sexual being. If your thing isn't trimmed, tamed and tufted within a centimeter of its cute little life, who's going to plant their tulips in that jungle? So while there's something a little hilarious about the implication that a bush that doesn't resemble a porn star's is somehow indelicate and unladylike, I still find the whole groundskeeping metaphor bracingly repellent. Garden party? The hedge maze in "The Shining" was well-tended too, and look how that turned out.

It's enough to make me hope that it's just a matter of time before the personal grooming industry finds a way to capitalize on our fickle, cyclical nature. I'm ready for a line of down-there shampoo and conditioner, and a resurgence of the merkin industry. I can hear the jingle now: "Your beaver looks better with a little bit of fur."


By Mary Elizabeth Williams

Mary Elizabeth Williams is a senior writer for Salon and author of "A Series of Catastrophes & Miracles."

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