New Jersey residents have thick skins, and they like a good joke, even one at their state's expense.

One of our favorite recent T-shirt designs featured the line "New Jersey - only the strong survive."

And we've been enjoying the "Which exit?" jokes and the one about the state bird being the mosquito - or a certain finger - for years.

We're also used to television comics who know no more about the state than what they can see from the New Jersey Turnpike poking fun at us.

But one of our own corporations holding the state up to ridicule just to sell deodorant? That's asking for trouble.

Unilever, based in Englewood Cliffs, is the parent company of Dove. The skin-care company is pulling an in-state billboard campaign planned for this summer that featured a beautiful woman holding up her arm next to the text, "Dear New Jersey, when people call you 'the Armpit of America,' take it as a compliment. Sincerely, Dove."

The company was surprised by the less-than-enthusiastic reception the ad received when New Jersey residents heard about it, and Dove canceled the campaign and issued a half-hearted apology.

Dove was apparently trying to subvert the usual impression of armpits, saying that - with its products - they can be something to be proud of. But did the advertising geniuses who came up with this really expect New Jerseyans to get a kick out of the old "armpit" libel? What were they thinking?

The ad seems particularly odd in comparison to so much of Dove's recent advertising, which flexes its social conscience by encouraging women of all shapes and sizes to find themselves beautiful.

But at least the Dove ad was trying to make a point. Most Jersey-bashing humor is just tired and old-fashioned, often a way for comics to help New York audiences feel better about themselves.

And while we're on the subject of outdated humor, let's talk about our governor for a minute. Chris Christie is a public figure, and his policies and some of his behavior certainly are ripe for criticism and humor. So why does every late-night host or political cartoonist think the only punch lines involving Christie have to be about his weight? We get it; he's a big guy. Give it a rest.

We'd like to think that one day the rest of the country will better appreciate New Jersey's stunning natural areas, its beautiful beaches and it's scientific and cultural contributions, which rival those of any state. We'd like to think so, but we don't.

It's far more likely that the New Jersey gags will continue, and that our broad-shouldered state will keep laughing along.

Just lay off the armpit jokes.