When I started looking through controversial, sexist, gender stereotyped advertisements and commercials, I came across a commercial for Herbal Essences Shampoo. In this specific commercial, Nicole Scherzinger, a very beautiful, made-up, girly-girl brings her shampoo into an airplane bathroom. First of all, this is confusing, because who washes their hair in an airplane bathroom? The camera zooms in on Nicole looking at herself in the mirror, raising her eyebrows in a sexual manner, and moaning while rubbing her hair, reinforcing Baker-Sherry and Grauerholz’s findings that “the feminine beauty ideal is viewed largely as an oppressive, patriarchal practice that objectifies, devalues, and subordinates women” (Baker-Sperry, 2003, pg. 711).  As Nicole continues to rub the shampoo through her hair in a sexual manner, the camera flashes to different men finding amusement and enjoyment from Nicole’s loud orgasmic moaning. This symbolizes Herbal Essences’ belief of how men are supposed to view women: as sex items. They show men removing their headphones to get a better listen to Nicole’s sex sounds, while also showing a man putting his ear up to the door of the bathroom. The video compromises of mostly men actors to signify only men should find this sexualized woman attractive. This upsets me, because men are not the only individuals who are attracted to women. Other women find women attractive, sexy, and beautiful, but Herbal Essences doesn’t show any lesbian women raising their eyebrows or getting pleasure out of Nicole’s moaning. This observation proves that Herbal Essences is suggesting that the amusement from the men is how men are SUPPOSED to react to women (not how women should react to women). In other words, Herbal Essences is telling the public that men should be the only ones to find pleasure in women and the way they reacted to the sexual moaning is the way they SHOULD react.

The woman is dressed in a confusing fashion; she wears a full face of makeup, a tightly fitted PINK dress, and large hoop earrings, none of which an individual would ever wash their hair or shower in. I think that Herbal Essences was trying to insinuate if you buy Herbal Essences shampoo, you will look like Nicole Scherzinger and have orgasms. I cannot figure out the orgasm aspect to this commercial. I feel that the orgasmic moans were incorporated/added to the commercial either to imply an individual will receive orgasms due to how “good” they will look after using the shampoo OR to imply the shampoo will make you feel so good that it causes the individual to have an orgasm. Both speculations seem to be senseless and absurd, as shampoo cannot cause one to have an orgasm!! At the end of the commercial (after Nicole screams, “YES!”), the narrator says, “It’s an experience everyone will be asking for” and all of the passengers press the help button above their seat. This is suggesting that anyone who buys this shampoo will have the experience Nicole had in the bathroom and that people should WANT to have that experience from using Herbal Essences. This entire commercial sends out several misguided messages on gender stereotypes and sexuality stereotypes. It also attempts to trick viewers into receiving potential advantages and rewards, such as Nicole’s beauty and sexual pleasures. All in all, this commercial sexualizes women effectively epitomizing sexist thoughts and behaviors while also attempting to make the public believe this behavior is acceptable and “normal.”


Baker-Sperry, L., & Grauerholz, L. (2003). The Pervasiveness and Persistence of the Feminine Beauty Ideal in Children’s Fairy Tales. Gender & Society, 17(5), 711-726. doi:10.1177/0891243203255605

Christy, J. (2013). Nicole Scherzinger Herbal Essences Airplane Commercial. Retrieved June 13, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_jpHOw2Uqno