Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains.
Women are born free and made unfree by the patriarchy, but let’s focus on why serums are the real problem.
some writer in 2018 probably
There’s been a growing backlash in digital publications to the rise of skincare. Authors make different points, but the main takeaway usually is that skincare is the latest in a long line of cons or chains women are clapping on readily to bow before the demands of society.
I don’t tend to like these articles, but maybe not for the reasons you’d think.
It seems a bit weird to read an article attempting to raise the alarm about interest in beauty products stealing power from women when the author considers only one [negative] reason we might be into skincare and makeup. It’s strange to get deep into a piece about women losing their agency due to serums only to realize that the author has not talked to any human women who really care about this stuff about why they care about this stuff.
Why is it that publications will rush to talk to actual fucking Nazis, but can’t ask beauty fans some questions before explaining our motives for us?
I’m way less concerned about hyaluronic acid serums keeping/making us slaves to the patriarchy than I am about the fact that writers can routinely get pitches accepted that have the underlying premise of “women, the things you like are stupid and let me tell you why [with zero to no reporting].” Women are the primary peddlers of these stories, to make the cut that much deeper.
That’s not to say that skincare has been good for every person who has ever layered. I can see how a routine built due to pressure to look young at work or within a marriage would feel awful. That could be a limiting, negative influence on a woman’s life. Yet the problem, of course, isn’t brightening essence, but deeply rooted inequality that will still be there even if one dumps all ten or eight or twelve steps in the trash.
There are many reasons a woman might be into skincare and the only question that matters is whether beauty products are making the scope of her life bigger or smaller.
If some skincare helps alleviate pain from dry or acneic skin, it’s probably making the scope of her life bigger. If she’s spending hours each week joylessly layering in order to feel worthy of love, yeah it could be contributing to a smaller scope of life. The same three-step skincare routine that I do because it makes my skin feel good but doesn’t otherwise move me could be a precious self-care moment for someone else or a source of burden and anguish for yet another woman.
What beauty products mean to women varies and the only way to stop writing one-dimensional takes that are doing far more than sheet masks to rob us of agency is to talk to people who use beauty products about why they do it. If French printers’ apprentices who tried and killed cats in the eighteenth century got a whole (glorious) chapter exploring their motivations, surely journalists can rustle up some emails or infiltrate a Facebook group or two and ask some questions. Looking at the landscape from one’s own brain and then making universal pronouncements reminds me of my lazy tennis style back in the day: hang back on the baseline and hit hard, but not very skillfully. If you think women need an alarm bell, put in the damn work and prepare to run the whole court.
When Cheryl Wischhover asked if I’d talk to her about beauty holy grails I flipped open my calendar immediately, knowing that she’d get what makes beauty one of the most vibrant, maddening, and growing fandoms right now. I’m not disappointed. “The ‘best’ lipstick probably won’t change your life — but the search for it can” is an examination of the concept of beauty holy grails and our collective search for something sublime that captures the energy that drives a community I recognize and love.
Hopefully we’ll get more like it in 2019.
First appeared on fanserviced-b.com