Let's Be Careful About the Messages We Send To Big Business

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March 17, 2015

Time to rant a little bit... this is what happens when I don't sleep well at night. I listen to the News... Last night, I thought about lipstick. Lipstick and imagery... lipstick and money and big business. I thought initially about some of my own memories and my mother's make up bag.

Cherries in the Snow... The iconic Revlon lipstick that, at least in my childhood, sparked beautiful images of ladies who had dreamy cherry colored lips, and moved seamlessly from one romantic location to the next, in the snow. Stark color, imagery, sought after. Glamour. Lipstick, the most pleasantly female item we carry in our purses. We leave traces on cups, or on napkins, or on the neck of a shirt of a man who was just not careful enough. The lipstick itself is an icon. We probably each have no fewer than ten... each on the same spectrum of color, and each one purchased with some imagery or goal in mind. This is my nude, lip color lip color. Because having a lipstick that is a better version of the lips we have is imperative. Personally, I do not feel dressed without my lipstick, and I have written about this before. The lipstick is powerful. It has whatever goals or agendas or identity we assign to it. 

Audrey Hepburn, in one of my absolute favorite movies, Breakfast at Tiffany's, in a rush to an appointment, pauses at her mail box, in which she stores her lip color.

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No matter the rush, her outfit would not be complete, had she not paused to apply her perfect peachy pink. So Audrey.  Pink in the Afternoon, a well known shade of the time, conjures images of romance... subtly sexy, woman in charge.... somehow lovely. So dreamy. She seamlessly applies it again in the taxi, while hearing a not so pleasant telegram. She has to put on the lipstick, because a girl can't hear that kind of thing without her lipstick. Gorgeous. Even in her sadness, I wanted to be Audrey. I still do.

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Flash forward fifty years.... things have changed. I woke up to a news story at about 2:30AM, which made my alternatively sad and angry. I looked at my daughter sleeping next to me, and just shook my head and grabbed my notebook to get down some thoughts.

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Fortune.com has reported that Sephora and Kat Von D, the lady with the tattooed face ( sarcasm intended) have created, and quickly pulled a red lipstick, due to customer outrage, that was named Underage Red. One twitter commenter commented that her other shades include Pedophilia Pink, and Jailbait Blush. Also mentioned in the article is a color of the past called Celebutard, a horrific name that was associated with making fun of people with disabilities. MAC cosmetics were also cited at having a color called Underage.

Where does this leave us? Is this what we aspire to be now? Each name, in some way identifies women as VICTIMS, rather than icons. Have our notions of beauty changed so much, that we can no longer see ourselves as a higher and better version of ourselves, but instead, people to cater to the base sexual desires of men? Personally, I am seriously horrified. Is this where we are 50 years after Audrey? Do we not deserve better than to allow ourselves to be identified as targets of criminal sexual acts? Is this type of marketing acceptable? If we buy these colors, we are passively agreeing to the connotation of the labels. I honestly hope that this is not how we want to see ourselves.

Protest, by not buying. Protest by letting these companies know that we aspire higher. We are better than the way they see us. We are Mothers. We are Sisters. We are not victims, and we will not purchase or wear products that identify us as such. Rant over. We deserve better. 

 

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