‘Sorry Not Sorry’ Pantene Commercial Makes Me Feel Sorry For It

by Elle Brosh

Once upon a time, beauty companies were telling women that their bodies weren’t smooth enough, their faces clear enough, and their hair, shiny enough. However, after various body-positive movements in addition to all the feminist scholars critiquing the issue, companies have attempted to alter the explicit ways in which they enforce constant body surveillance. Now more recently, we are seeing women’s beauty advertisements “praise” empowerment over body image. Take this new Pantene, “Sorry Not Sorry” commercial, for instance. 

Well, sorry I’m not sorry to say, these companies have an ulterior motive behind infusing female empowerment into their ads, #money.

Inserting “feminist” discourse into ad campaigns, is just another capitalist stratagem. Though it may appear that Pantene is selling body positivity and not scrutiny, beauty companies are still demanding a set of beauty standards and suggesting that they can only be achieved by purchasing their product. You’ll feel less insecure about being insecure if you shampoo, condition, and rinse with creme that will never make your hair look like it does in the commercials!

Not only do these ads imply with their products that we are pimply, overweight, and oily, but they are also suggesting that feeling insecure about these things is OUR fault. Pantene is not the only company to propose the idea that women are self-conscious and unassertive by simply telling us to perk up and “shine strong.” This is not what empowerment looks like, this is propaganda perpetrating the same discourse as preachings like the “confidence gap” and “lean in.” Women should certainly not be sorry for failing to obtain the conventional body standards society decides, but we do not need more demands from companies telling us that being insecure, shy, or DGAF about fancy shampoos is also another obstacle in the way of “beauty citizenship.” 

I will leave you with a quote by Jessica Valenti, writer for The Guardian, to finish off my argument. 

“giving women one-liners and happy endings (and shiny hair) will not solve the problem of workplace gender roles, body image or domestic inequality – that requires a fundamental shift in how we talk and think about women’s roles in society. But maybe I will take a cue from Pantene, after all, and “shine strong” by saying that I think their ad is garbage. And I’m not remotely sorry.” 

Instead of shining strong, let’s shine through and shed light upon the fact that these ads can not truly encourage empowerment when they chastise us for apologizing while simultaneously expecting us to view our bodies with scrutiny.

How do you feel about the ad? Agree, disagree? Comment Below!


Image courtesy of Condenast 

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