The first lawsuit started last year when a woman reported balding due to the use of a product called Wen, which is made and promoted by a man named Chaz Dean and a marketing company called Guthy-Renker, all from Los Angeles, California. Guthy-Renker’s products include Pro-Activ, which is sold as an anti-acne product. Their products are sold by means of infomercials with appearances by such celebrities as Alyssa Milano and Brooke Shields. Some details about the lawsuit are available here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2015/04/02/wen-hair-conditioner-lawsuit/70822018/ It has grown in two class action suits with reportedly more than 200 complainants and the number still seems to be growing.
Note: This evening, while I am still writing this, it has been reported that two suits are going into mediation: http://topclassactions.com/lawsuit-settlements/lawsuit-news/262922-wen-hair-product-class-action-lawsuits-head-to-mediation/
As I’ve previously mentioned, I don’t have television. But, I did watch some of these infomercials, available on YouTube, which are or have been aired late at night on television. QVC is a cable and satellite T.V. network that is devoted entirely to infomercials and this product’s infomercials have been run there and it can be purchased from QVC and from luxury, high end cosmetics company Sephora (pronounced se-For-uh, with the accent on the second syllable).
I have been reading the allegations by many women – maybe as many as a hundred that I’ve personally read – against this product line, called “Wen,” and those who sell it. It seems significant that all the alleged victims are women and the alleged perpetrator is a gay man who teaches women how to properly perform femininity on television.
The complaints against the company are actually two-fold:
The first and the absolute most horrifying is that this product has made women’s hair fall out in clumps. Sometimes this occurs upon the very first use of the product. At other times, dramatic hair loss, as much as 1/3 to 1/2 of a formerly healthy head of hair, occurs over a period of usage such as a week or two. Many of the women thought they had serious health problems like lupus and were tested by baffled doctors. There are claims of careers ruined (that one was a model), marriages ruined and occasions missed along with depression and and anxiety.
The second aspect of the complaints involves billing practices. Women were charged for, at least, three months and sometimes indefinitely for products even after they cancelled their orders. In many cases, people did not realize that behind the “One-time purchase” button there was small print regarding on-going billing. Many people reported that their credit card companies were not cooperative and refused to cancel or reimburse them. One woman reported that after she cancelled her credit card, the company continued to send this product, Wen, along with an invoice. When she did not pay it, she says, she was turned over to a collection agency.
What kind of hatred and disrespect does it take for someone to do this to other people? Oh, that’s right. They’re only women. At least, the vast majority of complaints are from women and this product’s advertising is aimed at women.
I took a look at the advertising for this product because I enjoy doing that kind of thing.
Harmful cosmetics are a feminist issue because they are part of women’s and girls’ gender prison. Firstly, there is the fact that women are encouraged to buy and use often very expensive commercial beauty products in order to live up to a beauty standard set by misogynists. Secondly, there is the problem that these products are, more often than not, comprised of unhealthy, even dangerous, laboratory chemicals.
The advertising, itself, is, also, a feminist issue because it is advertisers (almost all of whom are still male as the ad business, itself, is viciously male-dominated) who largely shape women’s and girl’s perceptions of ourselves.
Advertisers promoted the insidious image of the “housewife,” based on women’s status as domestic servants to men. This is how they sold kitchenware, laundry soap, cleaning products, food products and coffee to women. This was the dominant type of advertising in the 1950s and 1960’s.
But, there is now a trend for women to sexually objectify themselves, to aspire to a lifestyle supposedly lived by celebrities like Paris Hilton.
After reviewing these ads and reviewing videos made by women and placed on Youtube, some of whom loved the product and many more of whom reported that is caused devastating hair damage and loss (the product was promoted to black girls and women and there is a particularly heartbreaking video of a young black girl crying about the matting to her hair caused by this product – probably due to fallen hair becoming entangled in her living hair), I have concluded that this product was sold by means of a technique called “branding” – a more modern style of advertising.
This is where not only a name, but a lifestyle associated to the name, is attached to a product. In this case, the name is Chaz Dean and the lifestyle is a lavish, trendy Hollywood one, as evidenced by video tours of his very expensive home, which he undoubtedly purchased at the expense of these women! The product is called “Wen,” but the name, “Chaz Dean,” is closely associated with it.
It is, also, sold by means of male authority.
Male authority is something used in television advertising aimed at women going back for decades. For example, back in the 196os, when teenaged girls watched “Dark Shadows,” they saw advertising aimed at themselves, featuring young girls who may resemble themselves doing something “feminine” like laundry. While we see two girls, we hear an authoritative man’s voice narrating over the top. It is soothing, reassuring and fatherly as it tells us what a marvelous product these two cute girls are using to launder their clothes.
Male authority is doctors, dentists, chemists and, in the case of Chaz Dean, a new kind of male authority – the expert hairdresser who is shown on all the talk shows telling women how they should clean, condition, cut, style and treat their hair. This is done as if men are natural experts on all subjects to do with women – not just our bodies, but even the hair on our heads.
Almost invariably the expert male hairdresser is a flamboyant, gay man like Chaz Dean, who, while he has all the authority of a man, tells us he is really just like us. He lusts after men, too. He likes beefcake. He knows female heartbreak. He is our friend. He is our confidant – our equal.
Except that he is, in every way, our enemy. In fact, I could make a good argument for the fact that the gay man is one of our greatest male enemies because, more often than not, he reinforces gender. For instance, he pushes such insidious policies as “marriage equality,” when it is in the best interest of female people everywhere that legal marriage, which has its roots in Roman slavery, be abolished forever. There’s, also, the fact that gay men overwhelmingly hate women and very often see women as competition for the attention of males.
The gay man is an authority over the feminine gender. He knows what makes women “real women” more than we do. This is an idea promoted on television shows, especially programming aimed at women. Men are authorities over women. They are authorities on women’s matters. This is the repeated message and when it is repeated to us often enough, especially on the television, we begin to accept it.
Since Chaz is one of us and is an authority not only on how we should look but the lifestyle we should want to lead, he represents something we must all aspire to. This is the idea behind branding. It is not so much about hard-selling a product as it is about selling a lifestyle. The concept of branding in advertising was very well illustrated in the 2009 movie, “The Joneses,” starring Demi Moore.
In this movie, the Joneses are the family next door. They are a perfectly happy husband and wife with two children, one boy and one girl. They have it all and their neighbors want to be just like them. They want what they’ve got. Except the Jones family is not a real family, at all. They are an advertisement. They sell by means of branding. Everything about them is a lie intended to make their neighbors feel bad about themselves and make them want what the Jones’ have.
This is what I see in the advertising method used to promote Wen.
There is no way to know who Chaz Dean is. I don’t even know if that’s his real name. Nobody seems to really know who he is. He might have been born in Canada. He is said to be an American. According to some commenters beneath articles on the subject of Wen, he is well known around Los Angeles as his face is seen on billboards there. He and his image, itself, appear to be the result of marketing.
Marketers have convinced a lot of women that this guy is a hair expert. This is so true that I have seen women on YouTube promoting this product out of the goodness of their hearts. In every case, their hair looks absolutely horrible. It looks dull, thin and unhealthy. Yet, they think it looks great. This is brainwashing. These women have bought the delusion. Even when their hair is falling out, they continue to believe that this product is making their hair look better and healthier because that is how it is marketed on the television.
I couldn’t say enough bad things about television. I hate it with a passion. People who regularly watch it really seem to me to be under hypnosis. The women with damaged hair, damaged follicles and perhaps damaged health, who promote this product in their videos are an example of how television can influence people to see things that are not there and believe things that no person, who is not under a hypnotic influence, could possibly believe.
This product is marketed as a “natural,” hair care system, including a conditioner-like cleanser, which contains “nourishing botanical ingredients that work wonders on even the most dry, damaged and frizzy hair.” And while the product does or, at least, has contained some botanical ingredients (the ingredients list on the product appears to have recently changed or it may be that there are just some inconsistencies in what goes into it), it, also, contains some harsh laboratory chemicals.
It’s not clear which ingredient or ingredients are apparently causing women to go bald. But, the product is far from being “natural” in the sense that most reasonable people mean when we use this term to describe what we put in or on our bodies. Most of us don’t regard silicone, sulfates and alcohols as ingredients that are “natural” or “nourishing” to apply to your hair or scalp.
Yet, the ads for this product repeatedly focus on botanicals and the product is considered, for some reason I cannot fathom, as “vegan” or vegan-friendly in some way.
The following video talks about some of the ingredients in this product and how the ingredients list has changed:
What does the term, “Wen,” mean, anyway?
Why would anyone name a hair care product Wen? In light of what women allege has happened to them upon using this product it is very strange, indeed. Some women have reported experiencing not only balding and hair falling out by great hands full, they have also endured boils, rashes and acne-like break outs.
The definition of the word, “wen,” from Google is as follows: A boil or other swelling or growth on the skin, especially a sebaceous cyst.
Here’s the definition from dictionary.com: Pathology. a benign encysted tumor of the skin, especially on the scalp, containing sebaceous matter; a sebaceous cyst.
This sounds like a sadistic joke! But, this is what is going on.
Amazingly, since I started writing this post, the suits against Chaz Dean have gone into mediation.
If there is something women could learn from this, here’s the take away:
#1: Stop listening to men. They lie a lot and they hate us. Instead, think about how your grandmothers and great-grandmothers took care of their hair. Chances are they know far, far better.
#2: You can take care of your hair much better using items from your kitchen. This information is all over the place thanks to the wonders of internet communication. You don’t need to spend $30 or $40 on a bottle on a commercial hair cleansing product.
#3: Unplug from the T.V. Get away from that thing. It is an instrument of black magic and whenever you watch it, you fall under the influence of evil people who want to harm you by means of remote influence. (I could elaborate on this quite a bit – how the T.V. is an object of influence in the house and the whole thing is based on occult scientific principles, which are well known to those of us who practice witchcraft.)
Here are some links to the many complaints about the Wen products:
There are some pretty scary reviews on these products at Amazon.com, too, and you’ll find lots of allegations of hair loss, outright baldness, boils, fungal-like occurrences in the hair, and rashes associated with the use of this product in comment sections of news articles pertaining to the lawsuits.
Here, also, is an article about this from a ridiculous site that should never be believed: Snopes! I mention this because there are lots of very gullible people (many who, ironically, consider themselves to be skeptics) who really believe in and swear by Snopes and will bring up articles from this disinformation site to try to debunk anything and everything. This would be funny if it weren’t so horrible: http://www.snopes.com/politics/business/wenhair.asp It says there is no proof that the product causes baldness, but if you take a little initiative, you will find many individual women talking about their experiences with this product. You’d have to be under some heavy television programming to deny the obvious after seeing and hearing what has happened to so many women and girls. But, those people are around. They are! It’s a little scary.