THE ideal of femininity: long, luscious eyelashes; glossy, dyed hair; and waxed smooth skin.
Not my ideal, I hasten to add, though I am a slave to hairdye, it is that of the Scottish Government. It's true - they give out booklets.
I'm not sure whom the particular leaflet is aimed at but I've seen the matching posters on the backs of nightclub toilet doors where, of course, you have to be 18 to enter. So, it's not aimed at young teenagers. Not that that would be an excuse, were it.
The article in question, with a Scottish Government Healthier Scotland badge on the back, is a booklet advertising long-lasting contraception. It is, of course, pink because ladies respond best to information written on a pink background. They find it soothing.
On the front, in a jaunty, cartoonish font, are the words: "It's here! Contraception that lasts for years," with pretty little stars around the words.
And then, so lovely, an arrow pointing to a set of fluttery eyelashes and "The longer the better!" underneath. Then, the words, "Ohhhhhhh if only mascara, hair dye and waxing did too!" and, with one final patronising stab against good sense, there is added a second arrow pointing at "waxing", reading "especially".
Did the Scottish Government commission Dr Barbie to cobble this together, this list of special, long-lasting lady things? Surely if you're mature enough to be having relations that necessitate such things as long lasting contraception then you're mature enough to be spoken to like an adult? My favourite long-lasting things are education and hobbies, but perhaps I'm not woman enough.
Boots have employed Dr Barbie too. On a board outside the shop there's a list of services offered inside the store, which includes the words Women's Health. A subtitle hovers underneath: Look After the Girls. What does that mean? Are we, women, the girls? Or has Boots gone retro-slang and "the girls" are a playful substitute for "breasts". Maybe it would be easier to comprehend were it printed on a pink sign.
I shudder over the stereotyping and pinkification of children's toys but it's not unfair to expect that once teenagehood is achieved your options will naturally broaden out to a gender-neutral playing field where pink and blue colour-coded childish things are put away. Don't you think, Scottish Government?
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