Toilet Paper and Stereotypes (VIDEO)


I have seen a lot of videos about sustainability issues but this particular video has me thinking all kinds of thoughts.

This is what I saw:


I have been yapping to those that will listen that there is an increasing crassness in our public communications. It is that slippery balance of finding a way to break through a signal amid all of the noise that is being produced to distract us.

In that sense, this video is an effective commercial or public service announcement. You remember it, mainly for that woman pulling down her shorts and the sound of the toilet flush.

In the forest.

There is an information card toward the end of the commercial that explains that American toilet paper comes from virgin trees. It’s painful to know that a tree got whacked in order for me to wipe my behind.

Because really, I am a tree lover.

Is this necessary?

I have a flood of questions though. My deeper concern: do we need to go this far to get peopleís attention? I donít want to be called a prude but did I really need to see this woman pull down her pants in order to be aware of toilet paper usage and conservation issues?

I donít think so.

Is it okay to use sexual stereotypes to get us to do the right thing?

We have tried facts, information and reason only to be told by some political and faith based organizations that we are foolish, there is no problem.

It’s certainly not clear that this form of awareness is helpful or will convince them otherwise.

Can the image of the beautiful playful pixie be used to get people talking about environmental issues?

Yes, you can use both men and women in fun creative ways. There is a difference between sexy, sexual and sexist, however. The producers of this video, with good intentions, use a sexist wrapper to convey a message of responsible toilet paper usage.

The problem is that this †type of visual short hand happens every day to sell commercial goods, products and services using a womanís body to sell just about anything.

Should environmental film and videographers slip on over to use this kind of advertising shorthand to make their points?

No. If you love and respect the planet that should include loving and respecting men and women as full beings and not as over-used widgets to sell a concept.

Would I have liked it better if a good looking man were in the video instead?

There is no question. Sure, I want to see a chunk of hunk romp through the forest and pull down his shorts. Iím not a saint. I am human. Iíd like it until he started doing what she did and then I would be in the same place.

Baffled. Saddened. Disconnected.

I donít hate the commercial. There have been far worse advertisements popping up on the Internet. There are more to come. It just doesn’t seem ok to perpetuate a stereotype in the service of a greater good.

Not even to save a tree.

Related Stories:

Study Says Building With Trees Is Better for the Planet

Molson Coors Knows What Women Want — Pink Beer

Sexist Milk Ads Taken Down

Photo from the commercial Helene Toilet Paper - Practice Being Me by Model Entertainment 2011


Ann G.
Ann G6 years ago

What stereotype are they perpetuating? That women pee? Yes, they may be over-sexualizing this ad, but there is a difference between that and "sexist" ads. This ad is not sexist. They are not showing a woman in a position inferior to a man or not getting equal rights. They used an attractive woman for a reason, and that's not okay, but they weren't being sexist.

Marilyn So Busy D.
6 years ago

I thought this was about recycled tp. When they make it so that it doesn't shred when you look at it, then I'll use it.

The Other Robert O
Robert O6 years ago

I was noticing a piece on Care2 that used a photo of a leopard to sell us on the idea of protecting a hippo preserve. I wonder how the leopard lobby feels about this?

Treesa Math
tia Math6 years ago

I agree with Cynthia C…the ad should have been shown n could have made a point without her ass! that scene was really sexist

Dawid P.
Dawid P6 years ago

the real issue is to use recycled paper.. interesting spot but can be problematic;)

Derp Herpington
.6 years ago

I'm not going to make the obvious jokes because old jokes are old.

Think about what our advertisements would be like had we developed along the sense of smell.


Derp Herpington
.6 years ago

Humans are very ill equipped to deal with the natural world. Comparatively we have poor senses of hearing, vision, smell, taste, touch, etc even when compared to our closest ape ancestors.

The only sense we have that outperforms most other animals is vision, and only because we comparatively are able to see more detail in color than other animal species.

Evolution is powered by sex, but you cannot have sex if you cannot find a mate. After millions of years of using the only decent sense we have to find mates (detailed color vision) the population largely consists of people who are visual first, and everything else second.

In acknowledgement of this fact all advertising has to be designed appropriately in order to be effective. We use pretty women to sell stuff because it keeps our visual attention long enough to cognitively process the rest of the message.

Advertisements would be very different had we developed along the lines of a different sense.

The Other Robert O
Robert O6 years ago

I thought it was cute, earthy - even refreshing! I considered her point. I was amused. I am SO ashamed of myself.

James F.
James F6 years ago

"It just doesn’t seem ok to perpetuate a stereotype in the service of a greater good."

What stereotype, Gena?
That the ad featured a female? They only had a choice of 2 genders, and as others have pointed out, it's not sexist as men generally don't need to use paper after peeing. Since you also state you wouldn't want to see a man in the rôle either, it can't be that.

That she's attractive? Yeah, the average fat, ugly type get a poor deal when it comes to casting sessions for adverts. If you've 40 seconds to get a message over, people are going to pay more attention to someone they'd rather be. Get over it, that'll never change.

So really, it boils down to you being a little shocked by the sight of someone peeing. Just like the advertisers intended. It made the ad stick in your mind, didn't it?

Having said that, a few things about it bothered me.
That was an unnecessary flush.
She didn't put the lid down first (it's there to keep splashes off you and the rest of the bathroom).
I couldn't make out what she was saying as she pulls her shorts up...
"... maybe you'll be wiping with an adaywithen." can anyone translate please?

jasna gonda
jasna gonda6 years ago

the real issue is to use recycled paper, don't make a fuss over nothing