Boys vs. Girls

Brian pointed out this commercial to me, and it just blows me away:

The commercial starts with black-and-white images from the 60's: rock and roll and surfing. Then it moves to a fit-looking man coming out of the waves with a surfboard, flashing a peace sign.

"Welcome to the 'summer of life,'" the narrator says, with an edgy "I'm narrating a rock and roll biography" tone of voice.

The product is a men's hair-color product that promises to leave some gray in your hair.

Can you imagine such a product for women?

Yet the appeal of this product (and its ad) is powerful: you aren't some faker trying to look 21, you're more real than that; you don't want to have no gray, you just want to have less gray; you're not some old fogey, you're a boomer, cool and strong and fun and proud. You've accepted that you're over 30 -- you just haven't accepted that you're over 60!

(One of the lines in the ad is "don't trust anyone over 90." Pardon me for conflating that with a newer expression, but, are they trying to say that 90 is the new 30?)

Men, of course, can look older and be regarded as "distinguished," while women who get older in apparent ways (including having gray hair) just seem, well, older.

Notice that the gent sporting his lessened-gray look in the ad is hanging with some fine blonde women: no gray on their heads! Not even just a little bit! (Although one of them is wearing a mini-skirt and swinging a tambourine, which dates her in a very different way...)

I know this is "ad reality," but the presence of those "trying to wrinkle up their faces in the close shots but no way they're over 35" women hanging on the "would have been 4 years old during the summer of love" hair-model's arm is just jarring, for a woman. After all, if that guy's supposed to be a boomer, the women are more likely to be his daughter than his girlfriend.

In short, this is an amazing little ad that should appeal to its target audience but will probably drop the jaw of every woman who sees it. The double-standard for attractiveness is just too stark, and, frankly, cruel (it always hurts to see others granted choices you are denied, or praised for choices you are punished for making) for members of the sex in whom youth is universally valued and age universally mocked and reviled.

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