When I was in college I was very high-minded. I wore no make-up (and never would) and I didn't dye my hair (and never would). I don't think I even registered other possibilities. I still wore outfits my mother sewed for me. Well, things have changed. As it turns out, Nice 'n Easy and I have been together for longer than I was married.
Malcolm Gladwell's 1999 essay 'True Colors', a really great read, is in large measure about advertising hair dye. 'Between the fifties and the seventies, women entered the workplace, fought for social emancipation, got the Pill, and changed what they did with their hair. To examine the hair-color campaigns of the period is to see, quite unexpectedly, all these things as bound up together, the profound with the seemingly trivial. In writing the history of the postwar era, did we forget something? Did we leave out hair?' The slogan 'Does she or doesn't she?' was written in 1956 by Shirley Polykoff for a ground breaking Clairol D.I.Y. hair colour product, Miss Clairol. About this, Gladwell says, 'The question "Does she or doesn't she?" wasn't just about how no one could ever really know what you were doing. It was about how no one could ever know who you were. It really meant not "Does she?" but "Is she?" It really meant "Is she a contented homemaker or feminist, a Jew or a Gentile - or isn't she?' It was all about self-invention.
A couple of decades on, a woman called Ilon Specht was working on a campaign for Preference by L'Oreal. In an angry response to the rather traditional ideas her male colleagues were coming up with, she wrote a commercial ending in the now famous words 'Because I'm worth it'. Sprecht is quoted as saying, by way of explanation, 'It meant I know you don't think I'm worth it (Preference was a little more expensive than Nice 'n Easy), because that's what it was with the guys in the room. They were going to take a woman and make her the object. I was defensive and defiant. I thought, I'll fight you. Don't you tell me what I am. You've been telling me what I am for generations.' L'Oreal later turned the phrase into a slogan for the whole company. (For arcane reasons of consumer psychology, it was eventually changed to 'Because we're worth it'.)
Shirley Polykoff also coined 'The closer he gets, the better you look' for Nice 'n Easy. I just checked the box in my bathroom cabinet to see if the phrase is still in use. It seems not to be. These days it's all about technology.