**(Recently on the archive, another article was published on Manscaped’s eye-catching marketing tactics. While both articles were conceived of independently with no prior knowledge on either author’s part, I encourage readers to also read over Chloe King’s article, as well, as it offers a separate but related and valuable perspective.)**
If you’re a person who has A) social media & B) literally any interest in personal grooming, you may by now have received a targeted ad from Manscaped, a fairly new brand in the “male hygiene” market. Founded in 2017 by CEO Paul Tran, Manscaped offers a range of trimmers, depilatory accessories, and related products intended largely for use on the body—specifically, if one is to go by the advertising, the cisgender, heterosexual male body. With products names like the “Lawn Mower” trimmer and “Crop Cleanser” body wash, Manscaped’s branding relies on a combination of tongue-in-cheek puns and references to rugged, traditionally hypermasculine tasks to market the concept of personal grooming to a demographic of men who are largely socialized to stereotype any act of personal grooming beyond the very basics of washing with soap and facial hair maintenance as “feminine” or “gay”. Manscaped advertisements follow time-honored traditions like appealing to the heterosexual male gaze—(“Two million men agree” the text of one online ad declares in front of a smoldering brunette in a low-cut tank as she proudly displays the Lawn Mower trimmer; her voluptuous busom framed between two perfectly-rounded shrubs)—as well as more bold, modern appeals to what one might term “locker room” humor—most egregious examples of which could include the ad that simply displays the Lawn Mower being used on a frankly-massive set of goat testicles. Thus, despite the fact that Manscaped’s staple trimmers could find a comfortable home in the showers of people of all genders and sexualities, with brand partners like theChive, Playboy, and Barstool Sports displayed proudly at the bottom of Manscaped’s website it’s clear who the brand’s target demographic is.
Setting aside the bizarre and arguably hilarious marketing-gymnastics Manscaped performs in service to the chinalike fragility of cishetero masculinity—(which is apparently not challenged by corporal comparison to a farm animal)—its advertising tactics in relation to its chosen demographic are particularly noteworthy for another reason. A perusal of Manscaped’s blog—”The Mancave”—reveals articles covering health-related topics such as “How to Get Rid of Bad Breath” and “Itchy Balls—Causes, Solution, and Tips for Scratching Them”; articles through which the brand drives demand for its products by creating anxiety around everyday corporal maladies which may or may not already preoccupy the minds of their consumers. Such tactics are hardly new to the advertising realm, but the novelty of Manscaped is perhaps their use of such devices to entrap those with stereotypically “male” plumbing. People with vaginas have for decades been encouraged to wash and wipe with (gynecologically unsound) floral/fruit-scented concoctions, dust their underwear with (possibly carcinogenic) absorbent powders, or scrub and bleach away any signs of depilation-related skin trauma; lest any other person discover that one’s anatomy resembles in look or smell as nature might have intended. Tellingly, a recent marketing email for the “Crop Mop Ball Wipe”—including rave reviews highlighting the product’s “discreet” nature, pleasant sent, and ability to promote confidence by allowing consumers to “freshen up on the go”—reveals that down to the very same buzzwords time-tested within the feminine-hygiene market, Manscaped is using the age-old tactic of creating shame around the human body in order to push product.
When the second-wave feminists called for “equality of the sexes”, they probably didn’t mean a future in which people with penises and testicles, too, were pushed to abhor their bodies so much that they poured millions into scrubbing, spraying, shaving away the existential dread of corporal existence. But as a wise person once said: “Capitalism is gonna capitalism.” Perhaps a ball-shaming company which, on the side, promotes testicular cancer awareness/prevention techniques is the best the market can do under such a model. And, well, the Lawn Mower 3.0 does make for a surprisingly superior trimmer—at least in this (nonbinary, gay, incidentally testicle-less) author’s opinion.