‘Natural makeup’ isn’t empowering, it’s bullshit
Glossier isn’t your confidence guru
by Una Dabiero
Now that being feminist is cool, companies have decided to put it all over their products in an attempt to scam us into think they're socially conscious, lining their pockets in the process. Companies whose products can't even actually be feminist are trying to get in on the action, too. I'm willing to overlook a lot of shit for the sake of consumption, but we've gone way too fucking far with this weird, market-driven belief that no-makeup makeup looks = female empowerment.
The natural look was one of 2017's biggest trends, and is poised to stay strong in 2018. Dewy skin that looks au naturale, light ey -makeup, and a moist but subtle lip is the look. And we're being told it's better because it's more ~us~.
But really, companies are just repackaging old makeup products to play up the “natural” vibe. Supposedly, it celebrates women in their natural form and empowers them to feel beautiful. Yeah, right.
Glossier, a natural-look cosmetics company that came on the scene in 2017 but is now a household name, is a clear example of this switch-up to make makeup woke. In a 2017 statement to accept expansion funding from New York City, Glossier said, "We are incredibly excited to further Glossier’s mission of empowering women to feel proud of who they are today.” By selling lipgloss, ya know?
And they aren't the only one trying to sell us natural looking makeup because it's "empowering." Tarte Cosmetics had an entire line of foundation literally called the "empowered foundation." It was a "hybrid gel" that worked more like a tinted moisturizer, so people could see your natural skin underneath. I feel empowered that Beth sitting next to me at work can see my pores. Thanks, y'all!
It's pretty obvious natural makeup being "empowering" doesn't really match what's happening. Think about it: these companies are still selling us products based on insecurities created by patriarchal beauty standards. They're still making money off "improving" our appearances.
And the new natural movement might actually be worse for our psyches. Back in the good ole days of 2016, we were saying "Oh, you need good contour to look hot!" or "Oh, you need falsies for perfect eyelashes!"
Then, when you didn't have the look, it was the product's fault. Now, it's your fault. It's your skin, your facial structure. And you know how they're going to remedy that? Selling you skincare products.
You know what makes it really apparent that they really care about selling trendy products instead of us accepting ourselves? They still aren't using normal-ass women in ad campaigns. Glossier only uses models that look like moon aliens with perfect skin, straight-ass teeth and freaky wide eyes.
And they aren't the only ones. Just last month, L'Oreal told a woman THEY BOOKED with acne that they can't "work with people with skin issues." It was a BIG DEAL in the year 2018 that a plus-size woman was the new face of a Revlon. And that woman was fucking Ashley Graham, the definition of classic beauty. All these companies are selling us tinted moisturizers and telling us to feel good when we look hot. But we'll never be as hot as their models. That's the point. We want to look like them, so we buy more products. The fuck?!
But you know the craziest thing? We're buying it. Now that we accept anything that is remotely positive towards women as feminist, companies can twist products that further entrench patriarchy into positive or empowering, when they really aren’t. That's some scary shit! They don’t even have to sell us beauty standards anymore, they’re so engrained.
Not to mention, what happens if we're all tricked into thinking buying a feminist product — a pair of vulva earrings or a lit feminist barbie — is all we need to do for the movement? The movement fucking stops.
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Some women may say, like, "My makeup, I do it for me!" But really, our sense of looking and feeling beautiful with makeup on is founded in patriarchal beauty standards. And playing by these rules isn’t “feminist” or “empowering” because it makes you feel good about yourself based on the same old set standard. Playing by patriarchal standards isn't what feminism means. And it's not empowering.
This doesn’t mean individual people should be tasked with not wearing makeup and destroying this structure. We're given rules and we play by them to feel accepted and secure. I wear makeup. That's totally fine. And some people have found ways to express themselves with makeup. That's great.
Makeup on cis women — natural style or not — isn't feminist and it's not empowering. It's not ground-breaking. It's playing by the same old rules and appealing to the same old standards crusty dudes have been deciding for decades. And companies definitely shouldn't be able to market their flawed products to us as some life-saving material. We should demand more from corporations, especially those that claim to be socially responsible.