My Dearest Darlings, The beauty industry has been mainly concerned with the manipulation of the female species, praying on the apparent notion that women must remain as nubile, svelte and pretty as possible at all times. TV adverts depict wistful images of wondrous women in well lit usually domestic environments with an inexplicable window left ajar in order to visually echo the wind machine aesthetic of the ubiquitous pop video. Perfectly quaffed tresses frame the airbrushed faces of the female, fictitiously depicting fifty year olds with lineless masks.
This reflects the preordained domain that women should inhabit even in this age of work place juggling. Women are still shown best at home passively pampering themselves with potions and lotions to resist the effects of ‘Father Time’. Women in this context are encouraged to adopt an ethereal collection of contemporary mystical spells, indirectly perpetuating the female connection with the mystical in order to maintain physical perfection, these ‘Witches of Salem’ are encouraged to freeze time to hold back the effects of a polluted world. Calls to challenge the onset of the aging process are littered with terms of resistance and holding back, defence and anti-gravity, magical methodologies like “Super Soft”, “Youth Code” and “Boost of Youthfulness” just some of the strap-lines of L’Oreal’s products.
Smiling luscious emotional beings laugh in the face of nature reaffirming to your fellow sisters that you are all ‘worth it’, suggesting that to allow age to show on your face reflects a self that is indeed worthless; women therefore by default are only ‘worth it’ if they choose to show willingness to make themselves pretty for men to gaze upon. Indeed even fellow sisters chastise those that let themselves go; suggesting that to give up the fight against time is a betrayal of your sister’s requirement to massage various chemicals into the face. As women are depicted elegantly and passively swishing their perfectly tousled tresses in order to attract a male mate, men until recently have not needed to make such facial augmentations.
The relatively new age defying men’s cosmetic ranges, in particular L’Oreal’s ‘Men Expert’ range and ensuing advertising campaign for ‘Hydra- Energetic, Anti-Fatigue’utilises the rugged unshaven handsomeness of Gerard Butler, “Look sharp, not tired, enough said” is the strap for this line, hinting at a no-nonsense emotion free practicality. This television advert depicts Butler riding motorcycles, seducing women, and playing poker, where tired eyes would create a horrifying ‘tell’. Men share their knowledge of science and technology, men are depicted having real lives outside of the domestic realm, cannily traversing the urban realm with a muscular frame and a thrusting heterosexuality emphasised to such an extent it almost becomes a pastiche of masculinity. Men are depicted heroically at war against the brutalities of ‘Mother Nature’.
The overriding message of course is to downplay what you all suspect of the man who dares to take care of his appearance, the worst fate of a modern man even now where in a world where Hollywood heart throbs deny their true desires, a world were stars who dare to be honest regret it. This narrow and limiting version of masculinity is just as offensive as the narrow depiction of femininity, as women are only ‘worth it’ if they have long hair and air brushed faces and men are only ‘worth it’ if they’re muscular, heterosexual heroic play boys riding huge vibrating machines and hopping from one bed to the next. And so continues the battle of the female enchantress and the male warrior in the battle for attractiveness and virility.
Much Love Ms Coco LaVerne