If I was a fruit, I would be a peach. Just like the fuzzy summer staple, I too, am covered with fine hair everywhere. I’ve since made peace with it because what is the alternative? Succumbing to societal pressure and hating my body? I don’t have time for that. And yet there are still skincare and beauty companies lurking on my social media feeds trying to convince me that my body’s hair, fat, cellulite, stretch marks, acne, and oily skin can all disappear with a product bundle amounting to well over $100.
While these companies might think they have good intentions, I’m skeptical. Some of these brands sound exactly like people I wouldn’t want to get stuck talking to in real life. These kinds of people are quick to take notice of all of my flaws and even quicker to recommend how they keep their skin looking like a beauty advert. What they’re really admitting when they say things like this is, “I’ve been blessed with great genes. No one in my family has chronic or cystic acne, nor do we have stretch marks, cellulite, or even body hair, so of course all of these quirky remedies work for me.”
Quite a few of these same skincare brands hire models who also were born with genes that make them less prone to large pores, acne, and cellulite and who don’t have hair, fat, scars, or stretch marks on their bodies. So, when I see a video come across my For You Page of a straight-sized white woman shaving the peach-fuzz downy of hair on her butt cheeks, I can’t help but question the intentions of these skincare brands. Do they want people to start being self-conscious about new parts of their body? Scrolling through the comments, one particular brand responded to users by agreeing that “all bodies are beautiful” or that no one is “expected to [shave their butt cheeks] but if you want to, we have a great routine.” Cool cool cool, but if “all bodies are beautiful,” then why does your brand only include straight-sized women and mostly only white women? Seems contradictory.
This same brand sells products that help “increase firmness of the skin, while minimizing the appearance of fine lines and cellulite” and other products that “increase circulation, facilitate tissue drainage, and plump out dimpled skin.” Is this why all of their models are straight-sized? Because if they actually included more body variation amongst their models, they would have to admit their products don’t work?
In an interview with HuffPost, Zakia Rahman, a dermatologist with Stanford Health Care, said, “Topical creams are really confusing because it’s a multi-billion dollar market and many of those things don’t work.”
i see: a late capitalism company collecting biometric data for surveillance & boosting profits by preying on insecurities on a micro level pointing out all your flaws to accelerate body dysmorphia/sell more product while you aspire to unattainable beauty standards. https://t.co/UzRtcsag6V
— dj franzia (@hawillisdc) January 16, 2020
The American Academy of Dermatology Association states, “If you’re looking for facelift-like results from a jar, you’ll likely be disappointed. Despite the claims, the results you see from a skin-firming cream will be subtle at best … When you see immediate results, the product tends to be an effective moisturizer.” On stretch marks, they assert, “like any scar, stretch marks are permanent, but treatment may make them less noticeable … It’s important to understand that no single treatment works for everyone — and many products don’t seem to work at all,” including home remedies like almond oil, cocoa butter, olive oil, or vitamin E. For cellulite, it comes down to some creams and lotion may have an effect.
Understanding what most bodies look like is going to be paramount for the skincare and beauty industry moving forward. It’s totally fine to sell products in pretty packaging with fun colors and smells. I’ll be the first to admit that it’s fun to buy these kinds of products because they’re pretty. But when brands pretend these products will help improve acne, cellulite, stretch marks, and other “problems” most human bodies experience, that just seems unethical and wrong.
To be clear, I’m not criticizing anyone for wanting to change how they look—because not wanting to have hair on your butt is a preference. However, skincare and beauty companies don’t acknowledge this. Instead, many of these brands continue to sell questionable products using harmful advertising and models and influencers who fit nicely into the beauty standards outlined by Western society. Unfortunately, this only reinforces harmful ideologies and excludes many groups of people.
I would prefer if skincare and beauty companies celebrated size-inclusive models and models with acne, stretch marks, fat, cellulite, and dark body hair in their pretty social media photos and marketing campaigns. This would even the playing field and actually show consumers that as a brand, they do in fact believe that “all bodies are beautiful” just as they are. There’s nothing ugly about bodies with acne, stretch marks, fat, cellulite, body hair, and more, so why not start putting your money where your mouth is? I’d love to see more photos and videos on my feeds of models with any of these natural body conditions having fun using booty polish or booby serum, not because it will “improve” how their body looks but because it’s fun and it smells good.
Skincare and beauty companies need to realize that today’s savvy consumers aren’t looking for superficial solutions to “problems” that aren’t even problems. Just admit the solutions you’re selling are fake and go. We’ll all be much better off for it, because the alternative is continuing to tell women that there is something wrong with how their bodies look. And that’s unacceptable.
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