[Glossed Over] COVERGIRL Says Beauty is the Victim.

Oh dear. Where to even begin with COVERGIRL’s Stand Up For Beauty Campaign?

Cover Girl Stand Up For Beauty Declaration Cloud Photo

The gist, as you’re probably catching from their “Declaration Cloud,” above, is that beauty has been getting a bad rap, kind of like that cheerleader that everyone says slept with the whole swim team, when really, it was just like, two or three guys, tops. Drew Barrymore and a whole bunch of celebrities and beauty bloggers are on board, “defending beauty’s honor” and claiming lip gloss’s ability to put a smile on your face as an inalienable feminist right. And COVERGIRL is even planning to give $50,000 to whichever Beauty Defender made the best video of why she stands up for beauty.

I guess I’m getting stuck on random segues like “and what’s so authentic about under-eye circles anyway!” (Umm… they are a part of my face?). And also the fact that the campaign’s home page invites me to sign the COVERGIRL Beauty Declaration and get COVERGIRL makeup shade matches for my current department store brands at the same time. So when “we declare that starting now — beauty is for all,” what we really mean is “anyone can buy COVERGIRL products — even fat chicks, honest!”

So, can you rock that? Or am I being a curmudgeon when I should be giving them points (maybe half a point?) for trying?



Filed under Beauty Schooled, beauty standards, Glossed Over., Makeup, week 18

25 responses to “[Glossed Over] COVERGIRL Says Beauty is the Victim.

  1. Dan

    The “what’s so authentic” segue is pretty poor. Makeup is the height of inauthentic, if you want to get snarky about it. It’s appropriate that you cover this here, but i hope this “declaration cloud” gets no more attention than your average PR stunt in the mainstream media, unless they too want to point out how lame this is. Covergirl supports beauty? What next, will the WSJ issue an editorial about how free markets rule? Or perhaps High Times is ready to through its weight behind pot? Not exactly analogous, but just sayin.

  2. Chandler

    I love how they conflate “beauty” with “makeup.” I think the best argument against this POV can be seen in your post on those baby beauty pageants. (http://beautyschooledproject.com/2009/11/13/high-glitz-baby-beauty-pageants/)

    I’d ask, “Who says natural can’t be pretty?” Sometimes standing up for beauty means leaving the eyeliner at home, people!

  3. Michele

    It’s just the typical, make you feel ugly so you’ll buy their crap, marketing scheme. Soooo tired of being told there will be dire consequences if I don’t jump on the diet, excercise, makeup, hair-dye, botox, surgical enhancement, (on & on ad nauseum), bandwagon. Shut up cover girl (even their name tells you something- is makeup any different than a Burka??!!).

  4. I just added a comment about this campaign to our discussion of the new Kotex campaign at re:Cycling. You might find the similarities interesting:

    Original post:

    New comment comparing to CG campaign:

  5. KNB

    couple of things…
    “beauty doesn’t have secrets” (except what’s IN the makeup)
    “beauty doesn’t have a dress size” (except that model who wasn’t used during fashion week because she had ballooned to a *GASP* size 6)
    “it includes. not excludes” – Except it excludes me, a size 12-14, who cannot find clothes made by any designer that doesn’t create clothes for PLUS SIZES.

    so yeah. I feel EXCLUDED.

    • Alex

      What’s secret about what’s in the makeup? There are ingredient lists on the side of each package, right? (Curious if I’m missing something here!)

      • Hey Alex; Great question. Cosmetics are required to list their ingredients on the package, but there are two issues here: 1) Certain words, like “fragrance,” are used as umbrella terms for proprietary formulas that contain mixtures of hundreds of ingredients, none of which are spelled out, and some of which may have toxic properties. So the list you see on the package doesn’t tell the whole story on what’s in your makeup. 2) The government doesn’t require cosmetic manufacturers to do any pre-market safety testing on the chemicals they use. So even when they tell us what’s in any given product, that list of hard-to-pronounce chemicals doesn’t mean much to the average consumer because we don’t know what health risks they might pose. For more on this issue, check out safecosmetics.org.

      • Alex

        Hey Virginia,
        Good point about fragrance – it is a weird umbrella term and phalates are cause for concern.
        But while it’s tricky to try and sort out the chemical names, if they traded in the chemical names for something like “fragrance” clearly we have an issue with that too.
        So what should we campaign for here? Chemistry is an important part of making beauty products–but I hear you on wanting an ingredient list that makes sense to people.
        I’m just not sure what we should be asking for…

      • I think better safety regulation is the key. Of course we need chemicals to make beauty products, but if cosmetic companies had to follow stricter protocol in terms of which chemicals they use and at what levels, I’d be a lot less concerned about whether consumers can decipher every ingredient on the label. Right now that’s important because we don’t know whether ingredients are safe, and being an informed consumer becomes an uphill battle. But it shouldn’t be the consumer’s responsibility to figure out whether a potential carcinogen or reproductive toxin is in her body lotion. The government should be doing a better job of evaluating that before the body lotion reaches store shelves.

      • Alex

        Ah, which links back to the Colorado bill you blogged about earlier. I wonder if bills like that one that have worked (like in California) have really made a difference for consumers, or if the bills have to be refined further? Anyway, thanks for the conversation – an important one to have!

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  7. Melissa

    Wow. That’s just disgusting. Just…wow.

  8. Alex

    Well… Except isn’t beauty about self-expression? I’m all for not feeling like you have to wear makeup to fit one prototype of “female”, but I think the true part about the campaign is that beauty can be fun. Purple eyeshadow, fuchsia lips, black nail polish, spiked hair, etc. Even the most counterculture among us probably have used beauty products to make a statement about ourselves. Why must the feminist always feel she has to be the woman with the under-eye circles and frizzy hair? (Gloria Steinem wears lipstick. Just sayin’.)

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  10. Cover Girl used to be my favorite brand as a teen, back when I thought the make-up could make me look like Christy Brinkley. Funny thing, Christy Brinkley is still in the ads 20 years later and she looks exactly the same (ah, the wonders of air-brushing).

    This “defend beauty” ad campaign is insulting. Sure lip gloss is fun – but does it need to be toxic? Um, no. Too bad some Cover Girl lip glosses rank 7 and 8 on the Skin Deep database, http://www.cosmeticdatabase.com (10 is most toxic). Many Cover Girl make-ups also contain chemicals that are actually toxic to the skin, imagine that. And that’s just what’s on the labels. As Virginia points out, many chemicals in the product are not disclosed. So yes, it would be smart to require companies to be transparent about what’s in their products and to phase out the most hazardous chemicals.

    Beyond the toxicity issue, I also find this fascinating because of the massive effort that goes into making us think we need these products to be cool and fun. I personally am taking the “P&G Free” pledge and refusing to buy any products made by this corporate conglomerate. See my blog for the reasons why: http://www.notjustaprettyface.org.

    thanks for the discussion!

  11. UrbanChica

    Gee whiz, you are all haters. Beauty is natural and yes, beauty can be Cover Girl too. Take a chill pill ladies. It’s an ad campaign.

    • “It’s an ad campaign.”

      Are you one of those people who believe the media has absolutely no effect on culture and society, then? That’s the only way your comment has any merit.

      Also, loving the condescension. Just because Virginia makes a good point that runs contrary to your worldview doesn’t give you the right to dimiss her as angry.

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  13. shannon

    Alex, Europe has actually banned over 100 dangerous chemicals from being sold in cosmetic products. It’s been very successful. We need national laws, and an organization like the FDA to regulate the industry.

  14. Gina

    Come on people, it’s makeup for Christ’s sake. I am a freelance makeup artist. I have helped thousands of women feel better about themselves. Women who come in and have any skin condition imaginable, women who are going through chemo and their lashes/brows are falling out, women who just want something pretty and sparkly. Why is that a bad thing? Makeup can be applied to look “natural” and only camouflage small blemishes/”flaws”, or more heavily to create pretty dramatic looks. It is just like art. Why are you wasting your time picking apart a CoverGirl campaign? And picking apart people who wear makeup? If you feel excluded or insulted, why be hypocritical and go on to make remarks about women who choose to wear makeup? This is pretty ridiculous. It’s a stupid campaign, yes (most ads are). But why blame that on women who wear makeup? If you don’t want to live up to the standards of “beauty,” why, then, are you asking “beauty” to live up to yours?

    Also, there are far worse toxins in the world than those found in makeup. I really do not think applying sunscreen is worse than getting skin cancer.

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  17. Couldn’t agree more. This is all about beauty standards, and enforcing them, not about women’s empowerment. I’m so glad you wrote about this!

    I don’t wear makeup, and here’s why. My skin likes to breathe. When I wear even lipgloss, my lips feel like they can’t breathe. When I put on eyeliner or mascara, my eyes get itchy and red. When I put on blush, I’m always afraid to touch my face for fear I’ll smudge myself. Is this what being a woman has to feel like?

    Combine this with the fact that beauty companies are run at the expense of women, by men,

    Combine this with the insecurity that the magazines try to produce with fashion ads, makeup ads, laser hair removal ads, plastic surgery ads, I could go on.

    It’s just not worth it to read them. Thank goodness we have the internet so we don’t have to look at these ads anymore!
    Stylish Plug-in for Firefox and AdBlock Plus reduce nearly all of the ads I see online, BTW.


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