Lady Doritos? Seriously?

doritos for women article headline

BREAKING NEWS: Women Are Too Complicated For Men

Do you ever read a headline and think it’s a hoax? Recently, I’ve been finding myself checking whether the publisher of articles is The Onion or Reductress, because separating fact from fiction is becoming increasingly difficult. Today was no exception when I was confronted with this headline:

doritos for women article headline


It’s almost comical. Almost.

In trying to prove how complicated women are, Doritos have managed to make women out to be so simple.

You’d think brands might have learned by now that people find unnecessarily gendered products insulting. There seems to be no real point to it, unless you consider the company’s profit margins. All it seems to do is drive up the price of a product while “male” or gender-neutral counterpart. The cost of razors depends on whether you’re standing in the men’s aisle or the women’s, we pay more for tampons than condoms, and BIC found out the hard way that women don’t need their own pen.

This latest attempt by Doritos to make “lady-friendly” crisps that are quieter, less crumbly and “handbag” sized tells me three things:

  1. there were no women high up in the decision-making process at Doritos HQ
  2. the men behind this idea really don’t understand women
  3. sexism is alive and well

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What’s the problem?

By creating this female version of the wonderous golden triangle snack, Doritos must have made several assumptions about women:

  1. women hate crumbs
  2. women’s handbags are too small/full of other things
  3. women dislike making noise/are embarrassed by loud eating sounds they make
  4. women, alone, take issue with the above problems (i.e. men don’t have the same relationship with a bag of Doritos)

While this blunder may seem somewhat insignificant, it’s only a snapshot of a bigger picture that represents the everyday sexism women face. When women are distilled down,minimised and stereotyped by brands to sell a particular product, a message is sent out to the masses that this is an acceptable way to view women. This kind of behaviour from brands also harms worthwhile activism by distracting the public from issues that matter. Rather than working with women to shed light on real issues like violence, poverty and trafficking,┬áit perpetuates the notion that women are superficial and care more about perception and appearance than they do about the real problems we’re facing today.

This particular product from Doritos promotes the idea that women should be quiet, clean and endorses the “ladylike” shtick that women have been actively trying to shrug off for years. Ladylike is a term that is often used to stifle female expression – be that emotional, intellectual, creative or sexual. Thrown around when a woman’s actions lie outwith society’s restricted ideals of how a “proper” (read – oppressed) lady should behave, ladylike has long been used by the patriarchy to keep a handle on women and their acts of societal defiance.

It’s about damn time people started treating women as human and not as empty shells.

It is not a woman’s duty to shrink herself to satisfy the patriarchy’s ego and obsessive control issues.

A woman is not defined by her looks, her femininity or her ability to placate others.

When will society accept that women are complex, multifaceted and unique?

Why do brands continue to pedal antiquated ideas of what a woman should be or how she should behave?

Can we just get rid of the patriarchy already?

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Personally, I’m pissed off because Doritos are one of my go-to snacks. I don’t want to be giving money to a company that values women so little. Then I’m reminded that most companies are the same and, like with ethical clothing brands, if I was to cut out all the businesses with crappy ethics I’d end up naked and hungry. Neither of those things are what I want.

What next, then? Well, for starters, keep making noise. Keep proving to these decision makers (regardless of gender) that you will be heard and your opinions matters. Keep rallying, writing, tweeting, sharing – use whatever tools you have in your belt. This is about so much more than those delicious corn triangles. This is about representation and forcing brands to gain a better understanding of half the human population (which would be easier if they were hiring more women to become those decision makers).

From now on, I’m asked why I choose to label myself a feminist, this Doritos debacle will be added to the laundry list of issues I have with how women are treated in society.

Oh, and Doritos? Next time you want to make a product for women, try asking them what they want first. It’s not as hard as Mel Gibson made it out to be.

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Author: Amy

The Squealing Piglet - a nickname that started at birth and has reappeared throughout the course of my life (not least because of my "unique" laugh...*gigglesnort*) PhD candidate, intersectional feminist and occasional blogger.

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