In her documentary Killing Us Softly, Jean Killborne explains that a vast majority of advertisements assume an outlook of heterosexuality of consumers, and this Crest White Strip commercial is no exception. At open, three young women are sitting at a table in a restaurant. When the last member of their party joins the table with a smile on her face, it is assumed that there is a new man in her life, “Oh come on, you’re glowing! You’re in love,” her friends cheer while she smiles and refutes their statements. The object of the advertisement is to show that with crest white strips your smile will be so bright that everyone will believe you’re in love but, in fact, it’s just crest white strips.
This commercial is a great representation of what Beauvoir proposed in The Second Sex, this idea that women are defined by men. “But if I wish to define myself, I must first of all say: ‘I am a woman’; on this truth must be based all further discussion. A man never beings by presenting himself as an individual of a certain sex; it goes without saying that he is a man.”
The women in the commercial cannot comprehend the idea that their friend might just be happy on her own, no one questions whether she received a raise at work or just closed a big deal nor do they ask if she just found an amazing home for a great price; the assumption is that a man has come into her life and made it better. One of the friends even asks if this new mystery man has a friend in hopes of meeting a man for herself. This commercial utilized the belief that women need a man to be whole and signify happiness, not only putting women in a place of invalidity, but also excluding non-heterosexual women who, in fact, don’t need or want a man for happiness.
McCann, Carole R., and Seung-Kyung Kim. Feminist Theory Reader: Local and Global Perspectives. New York: Routledge, 2003.
Killing Us Softly 4. Dir. Jean Killborne. Cambridge Documentary Films, 2010. DVD.