Stand Beautiful on Feminism — For More Reasons Than You Think


Lots of wonderful buzz this week about female empowerment, especially amongst us nasty women ;).  The election has certainly heightened our awareness, emotions and convictions around this topic.

But there was another piece of news on this topic that had nothing to do with elections.  Instead it had to do with an unlikely new “face” for a beauty brand: Nigerian author and feminist speaker Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie .  She is the new spokesperson for Boots No.7.  According a statement emailed to Mashable, Adichi feels “women use cosmetics to be ready for something: to show up, speak up, and make an impact in their world in their own way.”  For her make-up isn’t a tool to hide women’s power and turn them into sexual objects.  Rather it is a wonderful source of transformation, confidence and power.  What’s better, she gets to the heart of the matter and addresses the seeming conflict of being a feminist who loves make-up.  She reveals that she shied away from make-up at one point so as not to be deemed frivolous.  But this wasn’t her true self.  It was only when she gained a greater sense of confidence that she chose to go back to wearing make-up again. Check it out in this great new video.

While we may have heard similar statements in the past about the powerful role of cosmetics, to have such a powerful voice speak about her appreciation for cosmetics is new.  And then to take such a strong stance by associating herself with a brand in such a way is even more surprising.  I applaud her for fighting against the typical rhetoric that claims enhancing our beauty is wasteful at best or degrading at worst.

But I would interpret the empowering nature of cosmetics and skin care in another important way too.  Beyond how skin care or make-up make us look, think about what the actual process of engaging with it does to ourselves.  Sure, there are the usual mini frustrations of a wobbly eyeliner lid or a spilled nail polish bottle.  But most of time, the ritual of applying these lotions and potions or colors and creams, is deep.  I wrote about this a few years back in a few different posts: Another Powerful Role for Cosmetics & One More Minute Please I explained that the very act of pampering or applying skin care and make-up allows us to gift ourselves a form of, in what my good friend and Anthropologist, Tom Maschio calls, “self-care.”

Here’s how I described it in then:

When we touch, caress, adorn and pamper our bodies, we are connecting with them and, eventually, our spirits too. Caring for our bodies is soothing and uplifting at the same time.

Our bodies aren’t detached objects just to be prepared for public appearance but, rather, are inextricably linked to the self.  And every part of the body — appendage, organ, secretion, etc., function together harmoniously. Beautification, i.e., the act of massaging, applying, fixing, plucking, whatever the actual activity, isn’t just a means to an end but an act of health care and self-love.

So, for all of us women –and men included –who enjoy adding some scent, sparkle, color or plumpness to our appearances, remember that it not only boosts our confidence but it gives us a spiritual high too.  It helps us connect to our bodies — to admire them, care for them, energize or calm them and, ultimately, connect with them.    And if loving and caring for our bodies doesn’t lead to feeling empowered, I don’t know what does!

More To Love: Additions to the Reading List

Ripped from the latest beauty-in-culture headlines:

  • Mexico is a heavy beauty market …for women AND men!

L’Oreal bets on growing Mexico beauty market

  • Woman documents her year without make-up in this new book…can you imagine?!

  • An art professor shares his experiences and philosophies on the mysteries of beauty

  • While women often bond with gay men over their relationships with straight guys, fashion and beauty; does our culture let gay men see that as license to objectify women?  A commentary on the hilarious viral video: Gay Men Will Marry your Girlfriends

Any more stories to add?  Tweet us or comment @Beautyskew


Disturbing But Awesome

Lauren Luke, YouTube star and make-up artist to every teenager out there did something pretty cool.  She took her famous beauty tutorial platform and turned it into a anti-domestic abuse campaign.  While cosmetics hides everything from sunspots to zits to the last night’s debauchery, it also can hide the painful marks of domestic abuse.   Luke spends a minute or so stoically showing how to cover up her own bruises.  It’s extremely jarring and sad how matter-of-fact she is.    But at the end of the video, she challenges women NOT to cover their marks up and instead urges them to stand up against their abusers.  Take a look:

How to look your best the morning after


Bobbi Brown and I Think Alike

Last year I commended Bobbi Brown on her Pretty Powerful campaign (When Fashion and Beauty Brands Reflect Their True Role).  I expressed my admiration for her understanding the true role of beauty in our lives.  It, among other things, gives us the confidence to be creative, seduce your man, or kick some ass in the business world.

A year later I have to reference her again, as I whole-heartedly agree with her philosophy.  In a post entitled: Being Pretty Powerful is Much Bigger Than Beauty, she writes: “All women are pretty, and the key to bringing out their beauty is confidence.  While makeup shouldn’t be considered a prescription for self-confidence (that has to come from within and be developed over time), I believe that with the right tools and knowledge, makeup can help all women achieve that little ‘boost’ to help look and feel their best … instead of fighting the body you have, accept it and make the most out of it.  Focus on being healthy, strong and fit.  Commit to making smart food choices and exercise regularly.  This requires work and it’s not a quick fix, but you’ll look and feel better over the long-term.”

When I first launched Beautyskew, my mother asked, “Not everyone is beautiful, you know.”  I answered, “Maybe some think they aren’t beautiful, but everybody has beauty within them and with the right tools that can be seen on the outside too.”

It’s great to know others, like Bobbi Brown, agree!

Comment or tweet me your thoughts @beautyskew

Another Powerful Role of Cosmetics

So a big “duh” study was published about how emotions, more than rational choice, drive our purchases in the cosmetics category.  As someone who works with cosmetics brands, that’s truly a no brainer.  And as someone who has been purchasing and playing with cosmetics for decades, that’s OLD news.  Sure, cosmetics have a very purposeful role – hiding dark circles, enhancing the sex appeal of our lips, or highlighting our eyes, to name a few, but more than anything, they appeal to our aspirations.

What was interesting, and particularly relevant to me from this study, however, was that it was proven that “consumer satisfaction is greatest when the cosmetics brand helps strengthen positive emotions through the perception of ‘caring for oneself.’”  In other words, use of cosmetics isn’t only to project an image but to enhance our rituals of self-care.

I’ve discussed the notion of self-care in other posts (One More Minute Please), but I can’t emphasize how important I think it is that we physically care for bodies and our beauty (I’m actually writing an article about it!).  When we touch, caress, adorn and pamper our bodies, we are connecting with them and, eventually, our spirits too.  Caring for our bodies is soothing and uplifting at the same time.

No need to put on a full face of make-up.  If we just spend a few minutes admiring, touching and enhancing our faces and bodies, I believe we will all feel happier as a result.