Life – shaving cream puns and racism

Barbasol Mar 15 1937

Just take a look at this picture for a second, shall we? The quintessential “heathen Chinee” of lore, nestled between the pages of Life magazine for the purposes of selling shave cream in a handy tube. The image alone is horrifically racist, but let’s look at the actual ad copy. “Life Shaver” – ba dum ching!

The story is supposedly from a real doctor who was doing missionary work in China, and is, of course, a long-time Barbasol user. He’s been plagued by bandits and other miscreants throughout his tenure, but now, it’s gone too far – can’t a man shave without having a gun pointed at him? [Although, actually, the doctor never mentions that the Chinese man pointed a gun at him, or any weapon at all, despite the picture showing otherwise]. The bandit seems more interested in the process of shaving than his original intent to . . . rob, perhaps? The doctor realizes that some of these “bad men are but grown-up children.” So let’s treat the hairy beast like an ickle one, and see what happens.

The man grunts and points to his own face, and the doctor lathers him up with cool, rich Barbasol lather, and strops his razor. He shows the bandit how to use it and then makes him a present of razor and cream, and the bandit is so appreciative of the gift that he leaves soon after, and takes the rest of the looters with him.

Barbasol – not only does it give you a close shave, but it protects you from hairy marauders!

Life magazine, March 15, 1937


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