Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Supermarket Visit - Gendered Toiletries

I went to a supermarket to look at the types of gendered and non gendered toiletry products on sale, whilst considering the extent of female stereotypes within these. 

Whilst this isn't necessarily female focussed in terms of colour or design the 'stress relief' is offering an emotion with the product. 

This is a great example of how toiletry products manipulate femininity. This product clearly uses a lot of pink and is titled 'Love Story', which has feminine connotation, there is also a reference to pampering implying luxury. 

There is an excessive use of the colour pink, love hearts and ornate decoration coming from the bath, all heavily associated with femininity. The typography used is a script like font, much more decorative again implying femininity. 

The combination of the feminine visual associations with the title of the product being love story together create a stereotypical product. 

This is another luxury themed bath product that has some feminine connotation with the amount of decoration, but this not at the same level as the previous as the colour is more neutral.

Another similar product and again there is an association to femininity with the script like fonts and other decorative element, but this is not playing on dated character based stereotypes such as insinuating all women have a desire to be loved by men. 

Looking at all these Imperial Leather products there is a clear consistency in the brand, the bottles shapes are very similar and the designs they use all have a level of consistency.

Blissful escape. This bottle includes butterflies and flowers in pink and purple colours. These visuals in combination with the name connote stereotypical views of what femininity is. 


I started to look at Dove as this is the brand that I plan to use for the case study within my essay. 

These body washes are interesting as you can see the bottle shape is very different to any others. The shape almost makes reference to a droplet, perhaps linking to the moisturising aspect that Dove sells itself on. The highly curved nature however links to femininity as there are no geometric, solid shapes/lines that are more typically associated with the strength of masculinity. 

Again the bottle shape is used here. The same bottle is adapted for the different fragrances with the different coloured tops. 

This is hand wash but the way in which Dove call this 'Beauty Cream Was' I consider to be applying the female stereotype that women should be 'beautiful' and have a large concern for their appearance. This product at its core is designed to wash hands, and by implying that this product will enhance a woman's beauty in any way can be argued to be unethical.

Whilst Dove use a lot of white and blue, the font used is very feminine due to the script like nature.  

The beauty cream bar. A bar of soap thats sell itself on its moisturising content. 
Again repetition of the word beauty through the brand. 

When looking at this product in terms of its shape it is again clear this product is for a woman. It is more curved than usual soaps and the application of the Dove logo reinforces the female connotation within the brand logo. 

The Dove deodorants are similar in packaging shape to the body washes. no straight edges very curved. 

Baylis & Harding are a much higher end brand than Dove or Imperial Leather. This brand uses its logo as the key visual on the bottle, implying that it does not need to use stereotypes to sell. The brand is still engaging without the use of pink colours or stereotypical names such as 'Love Story'. 

I like the way this product uses the ingredients as the names for the products. This has a level of honesty. 

Although the waterlilly product above is pink and features a flower in its design, these visuals are based on the scent of the product and therefore communicating aspects of the product rather than applying stereotypical views to attract consumers. 

Both the products in the above image are equally as engaging, if not more, than the more stereotypical ones such as Imperial Leather's collection. This implies that brands do not need to be applying such stereotypes. 

Certain levels of female connotation within brands are acceptable if they are linked to the product values, ingredients, scents, etc. 

All the above Sure deodorants include a 'nipped in' centre, similar to an hour glass figure and thus heavily linking to femininity and the stereotypical view of the ideal female figure. 

Over time exposure to such stereotypical visual representations stereotypes could affect women and the way they think or act, and could perpetuate the stereotypes. 

It is interesting to look at this in comparison to the male deodorants. 

These are straight cans and bulkier than the women's. There are clear colour differences, both genders products being stereotypical as the mans deodorants feature greys, black and dark blues rather than lighter tones of pinks, blues and white. 

This Loreal deodorant does actually nip in similarly to the womans, but there is much less of a curve there is more if a dramatic nip in rather than the softer shape seen in the female product. 

Another more bulky deodorant for men. 

The names of products are also clearly different in connotation as the women focussed products included names such as 'Love Story', whilst this male shower gel is called 'cool kick', much stronger and more powerful playing into the masculine stereotype. 

Lynx heavy use of black and strong lines. 

Another bulky deodorant can. 

This Sure mens is similar to the women's but again it has been 'bulked' out with a flat top creating a less curved shape. 


There was a huge section of mens razors in the supermarket, but the women's were so far away from this I couldn't find them after looking for a really long time! This alone is odd as the products are the same but extremely far away from each other. 

Looking at these images again it is clear that male products use stereotypical views of strength within their branding.  A lot of blues and dark colour such as grey and black are used. 

As I couldn't find the women's razors I took some photographs of some I had at home. 

Venus, although it doesn't use pink, can be argued to be a stereotypical brand with the use of the name Venus. A Venus is a goddess of love and beauty and linking these stereotypically female qualities to a razor for women that is encouraging women to conform to Western views that women should be hairless on their bodies, is implying that to be powerful and embody goddess like qualities, you must conform to the stereotypical view of what beauty is. 

The shape of this package links to a female hourglass figure. As the product - razor - is designed for the body this is why such a desirable female body shape is connoted. 


Although these are not toiletries I thought it could be useful to look at the gendered medicines, as I feel these are often equally as unethical in that a lot of the time the medicines branded towards just women contain much of the same ingredients as unisex medicines, but through design choices women are made to feel that they should purchase the female version. 

It is interesting that the design of the normal and period pain packets is exactly the same other than the colour. Making something pink is automatically seen as making something feminine as this colour has become so widely associated and accepted with femininity. 

Another period pain tablet box, again applying pink to indicate this. 

Menopausal and pregnancy vitamins, again pink to distinguish them as female products. The use of pink links the products to the feminine qualities of pink, and as such feminine qualities are viewed as desirable for women in society the use of the colour encourages women to select this product over the others. 

Shampoo for men

It is interesting that whilst a lot of shampoo I have found seems to be gender neutral, there are still specified mens shampoos that are really simply made clear that these are for men. 

Whilst I am not overly concerned with products branded towards men, it is clear the issue of stereotyping within branding is not just a female focussed issue. 

Sanitary Products

Whilst it is obvious that these products are just for women, men would have no need for them, they still heavily apply stereotypically female colours such as pinks, purples and oranges. 

Although I work in a supermarket and so am surrounded by such products a lot, I have never taken the time to actually look and consider the choices made within such brands targeting only women. The extent of stereotypes applied is really quite shocking and definitely unnecessary. 

Why do we need to have gender specific toiletries and deodorants ? They do the same job for both genders. Many of the products are also so gender specific they almost become patronising. 

Whilst I am not concerned with looking into male stereotypical branding, I feel that the way so many mans products are called 'FOR MEN' in bold, uppercase text is rely quite patronising. 

I think this primary research will really assist the development of my practical as I can see that there is clearly an issue with stereotypes within such toiletry products, and I have identified many visual strategies used within these brands to target women. This could therefore be an issue I tackle with my practical. 

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