Anti- or Pro-perspirant? Insecurity in advertising

Are you anti- or pro-perspirant?

I sat in a wilderness medicine class recently with colleagues, discussing the symptoms and treatment of shock. Shock is a potentially life-threatening result of dramatic changes in the blood system (heart failure, volume loss, vessel dilation, etc.). But it comes in mild forms, too, like nervous sweating.

Nervous sweating is a form of psychogenic shock. You won't die from psychogenic shock, of course, though it may feel that way. Psychogenic shock occurs when you're about to give a public talk, or just before you enter an interview. Your vessels dilate, making your blood pressure drop, making you lose oxygen, making you breath faster, making your heart beat faster, making you light-headed and - publicly worst of all - making you sweat.

All quite natural. But not acceptable.

According to a recent NY Times article, despite the economic decline, "major deodorant brands are actually experiencing a bump in sales, thanks to recent introductions of stronger 'clinical' formulations." Why, as companies introduce stronger "clinical" anti-perspirants, are we buying them up? Because it isn't acceptable to show fear, and we'll do anything to hide it.

Nervous sweat discloses fear. Sweaty armpits reveal insecurity. We're afraid of public speaking because we're afraid of rejection.

Human beings need to be loved, so much so that our bodies respond systemically to the threat of rejection. Advertisers know about these insecurities and I'm glad they promote a relatively inexpensive coping mechanism. But you can't live forever coping. The best treatment for any type of shock is to follow the symptoms to the cause. Anti-perspirants deal with a symptom, but they don't treat the cause.

This week, think about this seemingly harmless product. See it as an excuse to explore deeper issues like trust, insecurity and the failure to believe you are loved. If you find yourself here, I'd like to say, Don't sweat it. Then again, maybe you should. ;)


Erin March 16, 2009 at 4:10 PM  

oooh, how fascinating. I had not thought of antiperspirant as a cover-up for fear, but this makes sense. And I'm all for battling a problem at the root! A new thing to chat w/the Lord about. :)

Sam Van Eman March 16, 2009 at 5:34 PM  

I hadn't thought of it either until the discussion on shock symptoms for hikers. This was especially odd, since hikers rarely wear deodorant/anti-perspirant!

bradley J moore March 16, 2009 at 7:44 PM  

I will never look at my Degree deoderant the same way again. Thanks, Sam.(By the way, Degree is by far the BEST deoderant - refreshing, powerful, and when my wife gets real close, she says, "MMMMM. What are you wearing?")
But you know, it really is working.

Sam Van Eman March 16, 2009 at 8:34 PM  

Nice, Brad. A little word-of-mouth advertising for Degree. That's fair - I'm an Old Spice guy.

And I think Julie loves me more when I wear it than when I don't.

Ruchi March 17, 2009 at 1:01 PM  

wow...I never thought so deeply about same. Especially " Nervous sweat discloses fear and antiperspirant cover-up fear ". Nice article :)

L.L. Barkat March 18, 2009 at 6:49 PM  

Huh. And I thought sweat was a good sign that I'm alive and warm. : )

Anonymous,  March 21, 2009 at 12:53 PM  

I have a girlfriend who is obsessed with finding the right deoderant. Maybe I'll tell her she should look to a deeper root of the problem. ( :

Sam Van Eman March 24, 2009 at 6:32 PM  

Well, it's that too, L.L!

faithandwork, just tell her with a bit of fragrance. You wouldn't want to turn her away. :)

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