Saturday, March 3, 2012

Lather, Rinse, and Repeat.

I am not a man bound by the petty restrictions of normative gender behavior. I believe I can remain proud and certain of my masculinity, while at the same time enjoying my episodes of Gossip Girl and MLP. And so, I didn't see anything odd when I selected my current shampoo, Herbal Essence's Drama Clean. It's got a catchy name, it's cheap (a big consideration, since I am also cheap), and it removes the grease from my hair. That's what I look for in a shampoo. Any gendered implications were irrelevant. My roommates, however, saw things differently. They were horrified, not just that I bought it but that "I didn't even try to hide it." I scoffed at them. Literally, scoffed. Scoffing isn't as easy as it sounds; if you do it wrong, it comes off as a sneer that coincides with an ill-timed burp. No, I said, you are mistaken. It is just a shampoo with a mildly amusing name.

And then, today, I read the label. Among the list of polycarbosaturates and straight-chain alkyl benzene sulfonates, there was some advice. If I am feeling blah about my outfit, my shampoo bottle told me, I should consider taking a pair of flats and slacks and adding a sequined top. A sequined top. The last time I wore a sequined top, I was playing an elf in a school pageant. It seems that my shampoo agreed with my roommates: it was not for me. (Or alternatively, I should buy some sequined tops. While I will keep the option open, I don't think I'll be exercising it any time soon.)

In the past, I've audited a course on cosmetics and aesthetics. So I know that, for beauty products in general, and hair care in particular, there is very little difference, chemically speaking, between one product and the next. What distinguishes one shampoo from the next is almost entirely the style it attempts to exhibit. (Not fully true; there are shampoos that target certain lengths of hair. But work with me.) Does it claim that it offers an "organic experience?" Is it for "party girls"? Is it part of the groomed man's repertoire? I look at the taglines, and I despair. Wouldn't it be nice to live in a world where people didn't care about the connotations of their hair detergent? Where they could choose shampoos freely without having to buy into a corporate image of identity? Where they could buy a shampoo just based on the fact that it cleans your hair?

On the other hand, I bought a shampoo largely based on the pun in its title, so clearly I have no idea what I'm talking about.

Later Days.

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