COVERGIRL has announced the winner of their “Stand Up for Beauty” Video Contest. (Remember their Campaign Declaration Cloud, that read like a spambot’s mash-up of “love your body” rhetoric mixed with “buy our products” reminders? How could you forget?)
You can go watch the video on their website real quick, and then come back and we’ll talk about Nicole, “an Ohio gal” who is “funny, ambitious, and positive” and just netted herself $50K by making faces at the camera while putting on makeup and fessing up to her lady ‘stache.
Hi! I’m Nikki. When I was a kid I used to get picked on. I was kind of awkward and hairy. They called me “Mustache Girl?” Yeah, I have a little bit of uh, hair on my upper lip. But it doesn’t matter to me what they say. I know with CoverGirl, I can feel beautiful just being me. I don’t have to be Miss Popularity. I don’t have to be serious and conform. I can be funny or quirky. I can fall down sometimes! If I want to. I don’t have to spend a fortune to feel pretty. I don’t have to wear designer clothes. I don’t have to be a Size Zero. Ha ha. I don’t have to shave my legs every day — but I don’t have to have a mustache either. Hmm. I can be glamorous and sexy and I think nerdy can be kind of cute. I don’t have to wear makeup, but I like to. Not for you, but for me. Because I. Am. Beautiful.
So on the surface, this is good stuff, right? Nikki looks and sounds cute as a button. Yay, (some types of) body hair! Yay no more Size Zeros! (Nikki looks to be about a four.) Yay being funny AND sexy all at the same time!
I mean, good Lord. If “pretty can be funny” is a message we still need to clarify — in today’s post-Tina Fey/Sarah Silverman/Jennifer Aniston/Etc world — then grasshoppers, we have more work to do than I even thought.
Because no kidding, pretty can be funny. Pretty girls get to fall down, wear glasses, make fart jokes, and even, under very specific comedic circumstances, eat pizza or cheese in public. That’s not radical. They’ve been doing it on every sitcom since “I Love Lucy.” They get to do all of this stuff because they’re so gosh darn adorable — and thus, all their wacky antics are cute, not threatening or weird.
It’s when you don’t fit the beauty mold to a perfect size 0 to 6 that we run into trouble. If Nikki lets her mustache grow in, then no, we don’t want to watch her make goofy faces anymore.
But we actually don’t need to clarify that. I’m not pointing out anything we don’t all already know, in the marrow of our beings. This is how the beauty industry works now. Plain old insecurity isn’t selling? Women are cottoning on to the “you’ll buy this product if we make you feel bad enough” marketing plan? Then let’s talk about how great and smart and strong they are — while continuing to show the same exact beauty visuals (thin, poreless, hairless) we’ve been using for years. The products are the same. The goal (look like this to be happy and beloved!) is the same. The only thing they’ve changed is the display copy. And as my friend Gayle Forman points out today, over in her blog post, “fat,” images are so much stronger than the written word.
It’s just the same old CoverGirl commercial playing dress-up.
PS. No word on what Nikki plans to do with her $50K beyond the website’s nonsensical explanation that she’ll use it to “make her possible true!” By the by, Nikki is also “Inspired by family and friends, especially her mom.” It’s like CoverGirl’s ad writers just Google “words women like to hear,” (or maybe “words Oprah has used recently:” possible! moms! inspiration!) slap them down on paper and go to lunch.