Like many of us, in a valiant attempt to maintain my mental health, I've spent much of the past year past year-and-a-half-twenty-twenty-garbage in a place of quiet self-reflection and contemplation. When so many things you held to be true and constant are suddenly proven to be false or shifting -- the inerrant goodness of humanity, the forward curve of justice, the strength of the global toilet paper supply chain, etc. -- it's important to try to stay grounded and focused on what hasn't changed, on what you can depend on.
For me, in particular, it's the enduring and absolute marketing battshittery of the deodorant label.
I mean, look at this thing. This is no mere tube of armpit goo. This is Degree® MOTIONsense® ULTRACLEAR BLACK + WHITE PURE CLEAN INVISIBLE SOLID antiperspirant. Or more accurately:
BLACK + WHITE
This thing has not one, but TWO registered trademarks! It's got the balls to put the three most specifically descriptive words about the product at VERY BOTTOM, in VERY TEENY TINY TYPE! And it STILL needs to spill over to the lid space to assert that it is also ANTI YELLOW STAINS and ANTI WHITE MARKS!
And look! They put the yellow on the white side and the white on the black side of the sticker to masterfully reflect the specific fabric colors most at risk of these particular problems, but maybe -- just maybe -- it's because Degree® MOTIONsense® ULTRACLEAR BLACK + WHITE PURE CLEAN INVISIBLE SOLID antiperspirant is also ANTI RACIST.
It's not BLACK and WHITE, after all. It's BLACK plus WHITE. It's the math of unity, because we're all in this together as sweaty gross humans. And it doesn't matter what color your skin is -- this shit's invisible anyway!
What always delights me about these labels-- can you imagine how many meetings went into this? How many takes on the sassy dresses and how many discussions re: Dress Boob Size and How Much Invisible Cleavage Should We Suggest some poor graphic designer had to sit through? I bet the ampersand vs. plus sign thing ALONE took three weeks and involved at least one weary lawyer explaining that no, we can register that as a trademark either way, please stop inviting me to these things -- is that I actually can't remember the last time I - the target demographic - personally purchased deodorant. (Sorry, "antiperspirant.") It's always the item I never think about until Jason texts me "hey at Target, anything we need?"
"deodorant," I text back, vaguely remembering that whatever I used that morning was officially running out and scrape-y.
"ok what kind" Jason USED to text back, but now he finally knows me and my deodorant preferences, which are:
1) Whatever is on sale
2) No pink scents, only blue or green scents
And thus, Degree® MOTIONsense® ULTRACLEAR BLACK + WHITE PURE CLEAN INVISIBLE SOLID antiperspirant was selected because it was, in fact, on sale and its scent was visually expressed in an acceptable shade of blue: PURE CLEAN
(It turns out he's actually bought this exact deodorant for me before, back in 2017. The label was mostly the same except it was excitedly marked as NEW! Damn, I had a first edition and didn't even realize it! Probably because I was okay before, and that's...obviously questionable now.)
I guess that's still a win for the Deodorant Marketing People: Years and years of color coding mean I (and more importantly, my long-suffering husband) can instinctively recognize that PINK = baby powder, or flowers, or flower-scented baby powder. Meanwhile, we all know that BLUE = scents like Pure Sport Air Clean Spring Water Mountain Fresh and GREEN = something cucumber-y, usually.
Why only the latter two are acceptable to me is probably rooted in adolescent insecurity, discomfort with my developing/changing body, and/or a desperate need to be Not Like Other Girls, I'm a Cool Girl, My Deodorant Suggests I Like Sports And Salads.
(Zoom therapy sucks, BTW.)
Moving on. Let's see the back!
Aha! MOTIONsense®, explained! THE MORE YOU MOVE THE MORE IT PROTECTS. I'm a bit disappointed they didn't manage to at least slap a © on this, but maybe they ate up too much production lead time on whether to make ULTRACLEAR one word or two, and Carol was going to shit a brick if she didn't get sign-off in time. This also seems a touch tone deaf, given how we just lived through a GODDAMN PANDEMIC and SOME of us didn't really do very much moving on a day-to-day basis. Here, have a free product pitch:
SENTIENTsense®: THE MORE YOU SIT ON THE COUCH AND CRY THE MORE IT WILL ATTEMPT TO MAKE YOU SMELL LIKE YOU SHOWERED RECENTLY
Active ingredient: literally the same fucking thing as every other tube on the next five or fix shelves, until you get to the small cluster of hippy shit at the end of the aisle
Uses: reduces underarm wetness
And there is it. The truth laid bare. All the extra promises of MOTIONsense® technology and pledges to stand up against the twin scourges of yellow stains and white marks and sassy party dresses suggesting an improved social life -- nay, this is but a humble tube of armpit goo, after all.
(Just don't ever expect them to use the word "sweat." It's "underarm wetness" and it's different, because we are LADIES.)
Anyway, we are remodeling our bathroom and spent the weekend emptying out the closets and vanities and medicine cabinets. I came across a very old (and very expired) friend:
The Deodorant Wars usually ended with all the other deodorants kicking the shit out of poor Tom's of Maine, for reasons that seemed funny to me at the time. But now, 13 years -- THIRTEEN GODDAMN YEARS -- after my stir-crazy, work-at-home-mom-brain first procrastinated on cleaning a bathroom and decided to instead explore the rich inner lives of a bunch of deodorants, I suppose I've softened. The War is over, Tom. You were indeed long lasting, even if Jason refused to even try you. Fare thee well.
(P.S. I also disposed of a lot of expired and alarmingly large Mexican ibuprofen from when I broke my elbow in the same trash bag. It's mixed up with some coffee grounds and natural pine kitty litter but maybe you guys could party.)
This post was NOT sponsored by Degree® MOTIONsense® ULTRACLEAR BLACK + WHITE PURE CLEAN INVISIBLE SOLID antiperspirant, which is good because it's actually pretty meh and I should probably tell Jason not to buy it again. It absolutely left yellow pit stains on one my white t-shirts, but I'd already spilled red wine on it so no big loss.