And fuck you beauty industry.
Okay, let's backtrack for a second while I dive into a couple disclaimers.
The inspiration for my anger/irritation/general-feeling-of-over-it comes from a Jergens campaign that touts its skincare as being able to provide you with “flawless" looking skin.
A couple days ago I was innocently reading a blog about craft beer.
Getting into the nerd zone of reading about hops. As I scroll down, I see one of those embedded video adverts in the centre of the text that plays with no audio unless you click the sound button. It was featuring Leslie Mann.
I love Leslie Mann!
She's smart, quirky, funny, and incredibly interesting to watch.
In fact, I'll pretty much watch anything she's in.
She usually plays an underdog of sorts in her movies, and I freaking love an underdog.
Cool. So I click the un-mute button so I can see what all the fun is about.
Insert utter dismay.
I'm watching a Jergens commercial where a mother tells her daughter that she needs to start working on her elbows.
They’re just not smooth enough! The commercial ends with the mom about to start moisturizing her daughters feet too. Because apparently those aren’t smooth enough either.
I’m kind of hooked.
I need to watch more of these. I both love and hate everything about it.
Leslie Mann’s skin does indeed look strangely smooth.
But like an alien. Not a human. I’m pretty sure aliens would be that smooth. My point is, she doesn’t look like any human I’ve ever seen. Her skin is bizarrely smooth.
Probably because of the post-production work done on her skin.
No, not because of the lotion she’s selling, but the work of a skilled editor, combined with flattering lighting, a beautiful lens, and some outstanding makeup work.
The next Jergens commercial I watch pisses me off.
So much so that I have to stop watching. This one is selling me tanning lotion that is supposed to give me “flawless” colour.
First of all, what the hell is flawless colour?
What colour am I supposed to be?
Really, I want to know.
What goddamn colour am I supposed to be today?
But before I go all out with my rage-fest, let me just say a couple more things about Leslie.
Leslie Mann is the bomb.
And although I'm sad that she did these commercials, I also get it. Hello, she's a 40-something woman working in Hollywood. Do you think that she's fielding calls every day? No she's probably not.
Just like most female actors in their 40 plus years who didn't make their name as character actors (i.e. Meryl Streep) and are not fielding a million calls.
Also, like most humans, Ms. Mann is human.
Meaning she herself has probably fallen into the trap of thinking she needs to be flawless. Which isn't so strange since she works in a male-dominated industry that prizes looks over talent. Again, thank you Hollywood.
Okay, discalimer and love for Leslie, aside, these Jergens commercials are a travesty.
They are a goregous metaphor for what is wrong with how we raise our females, treat our females, package our females, objectify our females, and tell our females what they're worth.
First of all, flawless is not a thing.
Even the most flawless diamond isn't flawless! Even the most crazy hot super model has zits, and blackheads, and stretch marks, and dandruff. Or whatever.
And yet, there’s a long list of "imperfections" that women are supposed to fix.
Get rid of. Or at the very least hide! And in a second I'm going to share that list with you so we can collectively feel angry about how insane it is that women walk around with a list like that clogging up their beautiful minds and making them feel worthless.
Making them go out and buy products that don't work to do a job that doesn't need to be done.
Okay here's the non-exhaustive list of things that women need to get rid of now:
visible pores (oh yes, our pores are not supposed to be visible...cool...how do I manage that one!?!)
flakiness of any kind (too dry = not good!)
shininess of any kind too oily = also not good!)
loose skin (you gotta tuck that shit, get under the knife or start some crazy "firming" routine)
boring coloured hair (yes, just normal hair colour is called mousy these days)
You get the picture. And I'm sure you could add to the list,
These are just the basics mind you.
If you want to be a truly successful female in North America you need a few more things.
Flat tummy. Thin thighs. A thigh gap is a bonus! Nice toned muscles. White teeth. Perfect smile. Always happy. Or at least sultry. You can only be morose if you're being sexy while doing it. Big boobs. Curves. Beautiful perfect nails. Even your toe nails are supposed to look like candy!
After looking at this list I'm actually surprised women aren't going ballistic on a daily basis.
But I guess we are in a way.
We just go ballistic internally by doubting our worth.
Undervaluing our contributions. And not going after the things we care about. It should be no surprise after looking at that laundry list of things women are supposed to eradicate if they want to be of value that there aren't a ton of women in power positions.
Can you really imagine leading a Fortune 500 company and also staying on top of your imperfections.
What about leading a country while never having frizzy hair or visible pores?
It sounds tough. And that's because it is!
It's not just tough. It's impossible.
Human beings aren't flawless.
There's nothing we can do to get rid of every strange bump and line and wrinkle on our body. And nor should we bother trying. Because trying to that adds literally no value to human society or planet earth.
Nobody's life becomes better because you dedicated your whole life to looking perfect. Nobody's life becomes more full, more meaningful, more joyful because you tried for 25 years to get rid of your spider veins.
And that is why I say, fuck the beauty industry.
The advertisers writing the scripts for the commercials and adverts know perfectly well that none of the products they are selling are going to make anybody flawless.
Or perfect. Or even more innately beautiful. They are selling straight up lies. Lies that make little girls feel bad about themselves. Little girls who grow up into women who also feel bad about themselves.
And that is just shitty.
That's a shitty way for a company to make money.
And the sad thing is, they make a lot of freaking money doing this.
Let me insert an amazing quote from the Global Cosmetics Industry online magazine:
The beauty industry is growing like a hot damn.
And that growth is fuelled by females who want to look perfect.
If that isn’t enough to make you want to storm into a Shoppers Drug Mart and start throwing all the lotions and potions they’re hocking into the aisles while yelling "Enough already!!!" then you probably haven’t digested those numbers.
With 80 billion dollars you could feed 1 billion people for over 40 days.
With over 1 billion people around the world living off of less than $1.25 a day, you can see how relatively speaking 80 billion is a huge sum of money.
It’s more that double the entire GDP of the entire country of Bolivia.
It’s 5 times what Americans spent on books in the year 2016.
I repeat, what Americans spend on beauty is 5 times what they spend on books!
But money aside, and number aside, it’s just a little insane that women have so deeply fallen into the seductive trap of "flawless".
I propose that we un-fall.
That we rise up out of this sick programming and stop buying into the messages that we are not enough. Because we really are enough. We don't need to be perfect to be enough!
And empowering our young women to know that they are enough will not just change the world, it will transform it completely.