Friday, August 24, 2012

Dear Maybelline

Dear Maybelline,

I just saw a commercial for Baby Lips.

I do not like your product's name.

I'm sure that the product itself is good.  The name and the gender-specific marketing, however, sent my thoughts spinning down a familiar road.

Baby Lips.  Marketed towards women and girls.

Let's start with the gender essentialism of marketing a body-neutral product towards only half of the population.  Only women age?  Only women get dehydrated?

Oh, I get it!  Only women need to worry about aging!  Only women need to worry about staying moist!  Men, you see, get to be "ruggedly" handsome while women need to slather moisturizers and anti-aging products all over their faces (and necks and hands and so on) lest anyone consider them not youthfully dewy.

A woman's lips must be baby soft.  As if they haven't changed since infancy.  As if they haven't aged.  As if they haven't gone through the natural maturation process.  A woman should look young and innocent and immature as long as possible.

Are you literally infantilizing women?

There's pressure on women to conform to a lot of ideals and stereotypes, some of them contradictory.  One of them is that women must be youthful and vulnerable and innocent, requiring men to protect them from the harshness of life.  You know how women are, with their wide, innocent eyes and their girlish figures and their bell-like peals of happy laughter ringing with the sweet joy of children at play.

The narratives around women and girls and babies, the narratives warning women that aging is bad for them and maturity is suspect, the narratives that men are interesting and important and attractive over a wide number of decades but women need to cling to youth at all costs, are legion.  You know them very well.  You're playing into them and promoting them and profiting off of them.

The next time I need lip balm, I'll skip the Maybelline displays and buy something that doesn't tell women to be ashamed to be affected by the passing of time.

I hope that your next product comes with less gender essentialism and fewer hateful messages.

With love,
Frank Lee

No comments:

Post a Comment