Shiny Legs, Shared Makeup, and Public Ogling: My Day With Gillette


Body hair removal is a waste of time and money. Shaving is a Sisyphean task. (Is that too hyperbolic? I get really bored in the shower.) Waxing is torturous. I can’t complain about electrolysis firsthand, because I can’t afford it.

Despite this fervent resentment (try asking me about threading when I’m drunk), I shave my legs and armpits and wax my eyebrows because I feel repulsive if I don’t. I’m able to rail against the entities that have shaped my aversion to body hair (the media, my mother, etc.), but I don’t want to be a martyr with stubble.

The Gillette Venus Step Up & Step Out Tour is a multi-city extravaganza that kicked off in New York City’s Times Square yesterday, led by model Miranda Kerr. “Normal” women (not Miranda Kerr) were encouraged to “strut their stuff” for good down Gillette’s “blue carpet” after undergoing mini-makeovers in a tent that included individual shaving stations. Every smooth step equaled a $1 donation to support Step Up Women’s Network, “a nonprofit membership organization igniting women and girls to fulfill their potential.” A press release called the event the “Venus Goddess Experience.” Obviously, I had to check it out.

I slogged through Times Square until I glimpsed the blue tent, which appeared like a mirage amongst tourists and ticket vendors. Lacquered women wearing blue t-shirts patrolled the adjacent lit-up “blue carpet.” As I walked up, a perky blonde emcee was waxing poetic about a twitchy woman’s shiny legs. “Your legs look exceptionally smooth!” she beamed over the microphone, her query echoing through Times Square. “Did you just use a fresh razor?” Yes, the woman admitted. Yes, she had.

I signed up and walked right into the tent. It was like a Barbie Dream Harem.

I launched into the Goddess Experience by choosing between three Gilette Venus razors: one standard model, and two moisturizing options which “are the same, except one has a stand and is vanilla-flavored,” I was told. I selected the stand-less “sugarberry” one. Next, I was ushered into a portioned-off shaving area, thoughtfully complete with cream and a towel. I declined to try out my new gift, since I shaved my legs two days ago, and also because if I were an exhibitionist I’d be into way more audacious shit than grooming myself at one of the most popular tourist attractions in the world.

Next up: Herbal Essences hair products and Cover Girl makeup. Note the hashtagged mirror and bored Gillette staffers.

Bald legs cry out for fab clothes! I got to choose a summery dress, shoes, and jewelry from Rent the Runway, a company that rents out dresses and accessories by famous designers (I didn’t recognize any names). I passed, then snuck out — without glossy legs, germ-ridden makeup, or a 10-minute loaner dress — to watch women walk down the blue carpet for a photographer (“Find your photos on YouTube!!!” the emcee reminded us one trillion times). The audience for this “runway” was comprised of 40 or so ogling tourists.

The emcee was clearly required to rhapsodize over each lady’s hairless legs before sending her down the runway. She took her job seriously. “You have the legs of a Venus Goddess!” she told one tall woman. “How’d you get them so smooth?” she asked another. Every few minutes she’d remind bystanders that they, too, could pose for strangers if their legs were velvety-soft.

“Sorry guys, just the ladies,” she clarified. “Unless you want to get a good shave!”

I decided to leave after an awkward catwalkless lull that lasted longer than four minutes and 25 seconds. (I know because that’s the length of Sara Bareilles’ “Love Song“, which was playing over the loudspeakers.) During the hiatus, the Statue of Liberty and Hello Kitty swooped in and got free goody bags.

Gillette presents shaving as a prerequisite for being a woman, then pretends to give women agency via flavored razors. Gillette is on our side! Gillette makes systematic hair removal fun! Charitable, even.

Being a Goddess is exhausting.

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