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'What's wrong with being hairy?' Netizens in China call out Singapore salon for comparing women to orangutans in ad

'What's wrong with being hairy?' Netizens in China call out Singapore salon for comparing women to orangutans in ad
PHOTO: Instagram/Strip Singapore

[UPDATED Feb 9] 

In response to AsiaOne's queries, Strip said that some netizens may have drawn some wrong conclusions from the company's use of the image of an orangutan. 

"Our mascot was inspired by the beloved tourism icon of Singapore and has been present since the brand started 20 years ago," said a spokesperson from Strip. 

The beauty chain said Strip was created with the aim for women to be completely body confident. 

And that the brand firmly believes in female empowerment and liberation while promoting love of oneself with full respect of everyone's choices in their grooming choices and regimes. 

'Never engages in shame campaigns'

The company added that it "never engages and will never engage in shame campaigns to push or influence people to accept beauty services that benefit us". 

"We are a brand that believes in good humour and setting high standards in all our campaigns with full respect for females as well as males alike with the most progressive mindset," said the spokesperson. 

The company added that it aims to provide a quality space for body grooming that is practiced safely and hygienically. 

And it does this by "using inventive, humorous advertising and marketing campaigns to inject a dose of humour and fun into both the message and the actual waxing treatments, taking the embarrassment out of this sensitive subject".

The beauty chain said that the alleged conversation in the article with an unnamed staff member saying that they could not find a human as hairy as an ape and hence used the image of an ape is most abnormal. 

"This conversation may have been fabricated and most unlikely to be true and we are in the midst of an internal investigation with our Shanghai team," said the spokesperson. 

The company said it will be removing the use of the orangutan's image from their current and upcoming campaign visuals in China to avoid such misunderstandings and misinterpretations.

"We continue to encourage body positive movement and celebration of female empowerment and liberation," it said. 

This advertisement by a salon was meant as a cheeky attempt to promote their hair removal services.

But netizens are not seeing the funny side, saying that it compares women who do not shave their body hair as orangutans.

Strip, a beauty chain founded in Singapore in 2002, had put up two posters of their ads outside their outlets in Shanghai, reported the South China Morning Post (SCMP) on Wednesday (Feb 8).

One of them showed two bikini-clad women and an orangutan jumping into a river, while the other featured a model and an ape that were dressed in the same dress.

Several enraged netizens later took to social media to criticise the "degrading" depiction of women, reported SCMP.

"I've made a tipoff against this advertisement," a netizen commented. 

"This company degrades women and materialises women and creates body anxiety among women only for the sake of its commercial interests."

Another netizen asked: "What's wrong with being hairy?" 

Responding to SCMP's queries, an employee from the Shanghai outlet said that the company's head office supplied the ad posters.

And that an orangutan was used in the ad since there were difficulties finding women with ample body hair. 

Said the unnamed employee: “The advertisement sends the message that if you don’t remove your body hair, you will look like an orangutan; if you remove it, you will become beautiful.”

Strip told the media outlet that the posters had been "adjusted", and promised they would carefully vet future ad campaigns.

AsiaOne has contacted Strip asking if the posters would be removed in their Singapore outlets.

Orangutans are featured in the company's promotional materials on social media

'Token Indian celebrity'

In another ad that had caused backlash, ShopBack's 'Indian dance' video in April 2021 struck a nerve with some netizens then.

The ad, which featured brand ambassador and local comedian Kumar and TikTok influencer Kevin Tristan, has several backup dancers donning traditional Indian attire while repeating the campaign tagline.

But several netizens called the clip problematic and slammed the company, saying "just because they have one token Indian celebrity, they created this fake 'Bollywood' song?"

ShopBack co-founder Joel Leong told AsiaOne then that it is a misconception, and clarified that the company supports diversity and works with a wide range of content creators.

ShopBack also said it has since reached out to the affronted TikTokers to address their concerns, as well as to learn more about what to take note of during their future productions.

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