Following the storm of criticism on the company website, parental forums and Facebook, the firm decided to close the online guide on Tuesday.
The guide was published on the website of Gillette’s Venus shaving products, offering eight tips to assist mums of young girls who are at an age when shaving their legs, arms and other body parts becomes an issue.
For mums concerned that their daughters are too young to shave, Gillette Venus offered the following advice:
“We don’t want our children to grow up too fast, but because puberty is controlled by hormones and not fashion trends, it is fairly certain that if she really wants to shave, then it may be time.”
Gillette’s guide continued to argue that “there is no correct age to start shaving”.
“If you give your daughter information early over how to shave then it can help her to decide if she is ready or not.”
Anna Lasses, who leads Stockholm youth organisation Stockholms Ungdom and is a mother to a young daughter, questioned whether the guide left scope for young girls to make this choice.
“The campaign just feels so extremely old-fashioned and really odd. Nowhere does it raise the issue of whether women and girls should shave or not.”
Lasses accepted that Gillette is a company which is keen to sell its products, and questioned whether the firm is the best source for advice on the issue.
“If such a guide is going to exist then it should cover the issue that there is an expectation. They claim that there it is ‘up to the individual’ to decide, but instead of if, they question only when,” she told The Local.
“Furthermore, one can question why there is any need to talk to one’s children about shaving – it is pretty obvious how you use a shaver,” she said.
Gillette’s guide, entitled “what mums need to know” was specifically directed at mums and girls. Elsewhere on its website the firm does offer a guide for male consumers of shaving products, but it is more of a technical nature and does not offer any specific advice for boys or tips for their parents.
One of the tips addressed the issue of how often a young girl, should shave.
“Young girls do not shave as often as adults because their hair is finer and grows slower. Talk to her… It’s about helping her to develop self-confidence – let her find a routine that works for her.”
Anna Lasses argued that the guide only serves to further reinforce accepted mainstream norms of beauty in society.
“If you wear a short skirt or shorts, then you should shave. That is how she is encouraged to feel,” she said.
The guide did however address the issue of peer group pressure.
“Remind your daughter that it is her body and her choice, she should start to shave when she considers it the right time for her.”
Anna Rudels at Proctor & Gamble, who owns the Gillette brand, told The Local on Tuesday that the firm has decided to remove the content from their website in response to the criticism.
“It has obviously not worked as it should. This has not been very good and we have listened to the negative feedback,” she said.
“The purpose of the site is to be informative and give consumers tips for shaving – we are not encouraging anybody to shave.”