When a bright young surf wax business inserted themselves into our emails a few days ago, our interests were piqued. Watch out, Mr. Zog. Watch your back, Mrs. Palmer. Make sure you’re sticky, Sticky Bumps, because Bitty Surf Wax just threw open their doors!
You have heard, of course, the term “timing is everything.” They say there are four outcomes that result from timing: taking the wrong action at the wrong time leads to disaster. Taking the right action at the wrong time brings resistance. The wrong action at the right time is a giant blunder, and finally, the right action at the right time, which, obviously, leads to success.
“We are the newest surf wax company to hit the market,” wrote Jarred Davidson, the CEO of Ocean Beach, San Diego based Bitty Surf Wax. “We launched our brand at the beginning of this month and, although it’s off to a slow start, the feedback we are getting is unbelievable!”
According to Davidson, they’ve spent months designing and testing their wax, which arrives in packaging unlike any you’ve seen before and can be purchased on their site for $11.99. One might think that surf wax is simple, but finding the correct ratios of paraffin, beeswax, and whatever it is that comprises surf wax can actually be a chore. And then, of course, comes the difficulty of any new business: how to make yourself stand out from the crowd. Well, Bitty chose an…interesting way. The timing of that interesting way is…interesting.
The wax is a woman. Well, parts of a woman. Actually, just a pair of breasts and a couple of butt cheeks. “Premium surf wax,” their slogan says, “with curves.” Sound a little tone-deaf to you? Well, you’re not alone. In this new world of #metoo, Bill Cosby, Harvey Weinstein, and a host of other woman-objectifiers/rapists, the focus of the masses has never been more vocal about women’s rights. It’s safe to say that wax shaped like breasts and ass is really going to stick a pickle up the butt of more than a few people.
It could (and has been) said that people are becoming a little too sensitive these days. Outrage is everywhere. It’s on street corners and bathroom stalls and on the television. It’s in protests and college campuses, and one of the most violent sources of outrage has largely been based around sexuality and the systemic mistreatment of women. A reckoning that is long overdue.
It gets a little tricky, though, when opinions come into play. Are people becoming snowflakes? Are people just bored and looking for something to be outraged at? Is it a function of an ever-increasing access to things to be outraged about coupled with a group mentality that internet communities throw gas on? Probably a bit of all of it. None of that is to say that the outrage isn’t warranted—it’s just to say that outrage is so fuckin’ hot right now. In that respect, you gotta pick your outrages with a fine-tooth comb.
Beauty is great. Sex is great. Those are irrefutable facts, shown by millions of years of evolution, a few decades of advertisers aiming their marketing cannons solely at what makes a person want something, and the simple notion that gay, straight, trans, or whatever a person is, everyone is attracted to their own brand of beauty. Symmetry tends to play a role in that regard in organizing the eye line. Sure, some people might not like giant breasts and a curvy butt as much as other people—we all have our superficial, physical desires, after all—and sure, all those decades of advertising coupled with porn inside the little box you’re reading this on have royally fucked our expectations of what beauty should be, but here are a couple of non-PC brass tacks: the majority of straight men like boobs and butts. Evolution played a role there! Procreation of the species, and all that.
Bitty Surf Wax knows this, and they’re banking on the fact that straight men will want to buy wax shaped like boobs and butts. Although for those of us who like to take a big inhale of wax after we buy a bar, they’ve certainly put us in an embarrassing, borderline-pornographic situation when all we’ve got left is a couple of sticky butt cheeks to inhale. Given that a sample arrived at the office, we must admit that we have smelled it. To be clear, it doesn’t smell as good as Sticky Bumps, (which is not shaped like a butt). Despite all that, oh MAN, the tone-deafness of the cultural moment we’re currently occupying is, well, deafening.
The makers of Bitty Wax are well aware of it, too. “There will definitely be some harsh criticism, but in the end, we are not trying to promote anything negative,” Davidson explained via email. “The wax has a bikini on it, so it could be worse… Gotta take it or leave it. But hey, any publicity counts I guess. There will be both positives and negatives, just gotta work through it all. Should we make a male model?”
Well, yes. For every pair of female wax, there should be a penis and abs wax. Paul Fisher took great strides with his penis surfboard. Why not wax a penis with a penis? Is waxing a penis with a butt offside? We think not. We’re modern world citizens. Wax your penises away!
And in being a modern world citizen, Bitty Surf Wax forces us to confront the notion of where sex belongs. Is surf wax the last straw? If it were penis wax, would it feel more or less threatening? Objectification rarely yields progressive outcomes. But so long as it motivates warm-blooded, sex-lovin’ human beings to do and/or feel something, it’s a challenging behavior to erase from culture.
In the end, it’s easy to be outraged by surf wax that objectifies women. It’s the obvious thing to do. And there are clear arguments to be made as to how fetishizing body parts perpetuates the subjugation of females in society – reducing women to disembodied assets. In this moment, however, where a true reckoning of institutionalized sexism is having its day, it feels as though if you’re not vilifying something that has a blatant display of what could be construed as sexism, you’re in the wrong. Bitty’s going to make some people tear their hair out, claw at their faces, and raise their fists in collective fury, and perhaps they’re right in their fury. Or perhaps those in favor of a sex-laced alternative to normal wax have finally found their go-to. That said, one thing is for certain: Bitty Surf Wax is in a sticky situation.