Make up your minds cosmetics companies, advertising agencies, and beauty magazines – do we lose the weight or keep the weight? Do we fill in our eyebrows or can we wear our makeup the way we please? Do we buy the designer heels and clip in extensions or can we celebrate our femininity whichever way we want?
Well, I already know the answer for myself, but that does not mean that I’m not sick and tired of the double standards perpetuated by hundreds of companies and media outlets wherever I look.
It’s one thing to be inclusive and another thing to confuse people with mixed messages about beauty “ideals”. We know, we know, you are working against the long-standing beauty archetypes set by the forefathers of the cosmetics and advertising industries. You are trying to make up for it *insert sympathetic pouty face here*. But it does not take a genius to figure out that since you couldn’t beat us, you joined us in our feminist calls of body-positivism – all in order to shake up your sales numbers.
[bctt tweet=”But you are doing it all wrong with your faux activism.” username=”wearethetempest”]
But you are doing it all wrong with your faux activism. You are still defining our beauty for us with your pseudo-honest campaigns and your brand-sponsored articles telling us for the umpteenth time that we’re fine the way we are. All the while waving your beauty products in front of our noses. You are still building on a long legacy of advertising that ruined women’s perceptions about their body images, but this time you’re extra-manipulative about it.
Let’s take the notorious Dove Real Beauty campaign as an example. It has been playing on our emotions for over a decade and making a whole lot of profit from our insecurities. We’ve all felt that the “real” women in the ad don’t represent us – you know, the real real women. Featuring a group of evenly skin-toned, hairless, cellulite-less, belly-less, coiffed, curvier versions of the stick models we’re used to still doesn’t do it for us. They all still share the same body type and the same flawlessness – thus setting a completely new unrealistic ideal for what “beautiful” should look like.
[bctt tweet=”Featuring a group of evenly skin-toned, hairless, cellulite-less, belly-less, coiffed, curvier versions of the stick models we’re used to, still doesn’t do it for us.” username=”wearethetempest”]
A decade later, Dove’s still playing the same game, and its current landing page for Dove India is even more infuriating. With a “let’s break the rules of beauty” campaign line positioned right under a header photo of sari-clad women (who all fit the classic beauty standard, by the way), I am left genuinely puzzled. Is this photo a display of Dove’s bravado in breaking Indian beauty stereotypes or is Dove trying to break the rules of beauty adopted in this very photo? Because to me, these women are all perfect and definitely unrepresentative of the women of India. There is a lot going on in this campaign, but ultimately, it is confirming the very stereotypes Dove is allegedly trying to break.
[bctt tweet=”We are never going to look like that, no matter how hard we try to be (or not be) ourselves” username=”wearethetempest”]
And what is it about this “beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself” photo-shoot? Who is the target audience – regular people or models? I take it it’s us, right? And we are required to believe that these professionally photographed, retouched, dramatic looking women wearing all kinds of neutral make-up are being themselves? I don’t know if Glass Magazine really cares, but a lot of women tend to fall for that sh*t, you know, and it is more destructive than the standard old super model photo shoots with heavy makeup and all. We sure as hell know that we are never going to look like that – no matter how hard we try to be (or not be) ourselves. And everybody knows that these models would definitely second that opinion themselves. So don’t tell us to live up to ideals that may or may not look like that in reality.
Big cosmetic brands – either get reasonably honest or just be true to your profit-driven nature and save us all the agony. If you’re going to own the body-positive narrative, then effing own up to it, do it like it is, and tell it like it is. No wishy-washy, half-assed messages, no retouched photos, and no nonsense. If not, then kindly leave the real beauty thing to feminist activists and well-meaning parties. You can’t really be on both sides of the argument.
[bctt tweet=”You can’t really be on both sides of the argument.” username=”wearethetempest”]
The pie chart (shown above) I found on the internet tells it all. Our bodies are commodified to suit the interests of whoever can make money out of them. And in that sense, these self-acceptance campaigns are no different than campaigns that feature air brushed and thin-waisted models. Our perceptions of our self-worth are swayed – not to our own benefit but to the benefit of billion dollar corporations. It’s true that these companies can’t focus on personality, because their soaps can’t clean us from the inside, and their lightening creams can’t brighten up our lives. Outer beauty is relative, and it should continue to be so, because it is not the crux of the matter or the epitome of a person’s beauty. But all that emphasis on it – whether negative or positive – is just bringing us further down.
[bctt tweet=”Outer beauty is relative, and it should continue to be so.” username=”wearethetempest”]