• Thu, Mar 17 2011

Estee Lauder Spells “Confidence” S-I-Z-E 0 S-U-P-E-R-M-O-D-E-L

I just want to say that the canapes at the Estee Lauder presentation Ashley and I attended were fantastic. Really, superb. These lovely little sashimi things on rice cakes. Just great! And champagne, too! And such a fun space. They had this elevator that was like an entire room, and it was super cool! It was like being on the Tower of Terror without the terror! Yes. There’s a lot to be said for that event.

But now that I’ve said all there it to be said for it, let’s talk about the rampant hypocrisy of the beauty industry.

Specifically, let’s talk about the presentation given to introduce Estee’s Lauder’s new spring line.

During which, the presenter explained that Estee Lauder surveyed women and they’ve found that 63% of women think they’re beautiful! Which I think is rad, given that 75% of women are dealing with disordered eating. I guess the overlap is working out really well for 47% of us! The lady behind me must have thought that was rad too, because she guffawed as though the presenter had made a very funny joke. Like, as though the presenter had intended it to be a joke.

Nothing was a joke.

Even when they said, “there are no ugly women, just lazy women.” That wasn’t a joke either.

“But what does beautiful mean?” the presenter asked, “what does that word mean?” And I whispered to Ashley that if she said “confidence” I was going to shoot myself. The presenter hesitated a moment and then said that they asked a lot of women, and the response that she liked best was that beauty means confidence.

So I shot myself.

But alas, it was just a flesh wound, so I kept listening. Because really, what else can you expect? I would love it – love it – if you went to one of these events and the presenter said “what is beauty? Facial symmetry. I will now illustrate the ideal proportions and how you can trick people thinking you come closer to those proportions than you actually do by smearing our products on your face.”  I would buy every product in that company’s line to reward them for their honesty.

But they’re never going to be that honest because, I don’t know, we’re all embracing some elaborate pretend world where beauty is associated with a character trait that it is at best tenuously linked to. The most beautiful women I know tend to be the most painfully insecure. And quite honestly? If Hilary Rhoda had crippling social anxiety disorder it might affect her modeling career adversely, but it would not make her less beautiful. Would it? Oh, fine. Maybe it would make her slouch a little bit, keep her head down. Maybe it would affect her posture. Maybe she would become .5% less beautiful.

The whole “beauty is confidence” line is the kind of smoke that major beauty companies blow up women’s asses all the time – never mind that 95% of high school girls think that beauty means being a size 0, 1 or 2 with big boobs and perfect hair.

Basically “confidence is beauty” is horseshit shoveled down our throats by an industry trying to sell us products. It frankly capitalizes on our extreme lack of confidence.

But, alright, I figured, if that is the kind of campaign it is going to be, that is the kind of campaign it is going to be. “Perhaps they’ll use “real women” who I think of as being very confident like, say, Condoleezza Rice” I thought, “And those women will apply some lipstick and magically be filled with more of this elusive confidence that is beauty itself.”

But they used supermodels Joan Smalls, Constance Jablonski and Liu Wen. Who are insanely traditionally beautiful in every possible way. Well, I suppose they are different races. In 1985, that really would have been cutting edge. Now they’re just all insanely beautiful.

Are they confident? I don’t know. Because they didn’t really say anything in their advertisements. The advertisements consisted of using special effects to highlight problems unique to their specific skin tones, like dark spots on women of color (like Joan), or redness on Caucasians (Constance).

Let me be perfectly clear – I do not mind that Estee Lauder is using supermodels. I love supermodels. I like looking at conventionally pretty women with perfectly symmetrical faces a whole lot. I like to do a little vicarious living through them. That’s fine.  But I have no idea how showing a supermodel standing perfectly silent having their blotches highlighted has anything to do with being confident. Or with “every (non-lazy) woman being beautiful”. All it indicates is that size 0 supermodels are beautiful but flawed. Flawed in ways where they’d better slather some Idealist Even Skintone Illuminator on themselves very quickly, so that maybe some day someone might love them.

Really, all I got out that whole advertising campaign was “even absurdly naturally beautiful women are flawed, and need to correct those flaws.” Hey, you know, maybe that’s true. That’s what the make-up industry is based off of. And I wear make-up every single day. But seeing that doesn’t make me feel confident, so much as it makes me feel… sad.

And it makes me feel doubly sad that we’re all sitting there nodding wildly that “yes! Yes, beauty is confidence! Let’s watch these women with computer highlighted flaws be silent because that communicates that message! These size 0 models show that every woman is beautiful! Girl power!” because we want Estee Lauder to send us some free mascara, maybe.

(They make great mascara).

I don’t object to mascara. I don’t object to supermodels. I object to pretend-world.

Nice canapes, though.

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  • oja

    THAK YOU!
    I am so sick of people telling me: “oh, that girl who weighs 50lbs less than you isn’t more confident because she’s attractive, she’s more attractive because she’s confident!” *gag*

  • Lauren

    I loved this article. I think my favorite thing about TheGloss, and all it’s writers, is that there is no sugar coating, just honesty. Very refreshing, Jennifer.

    Also, I read this after spending my lunch break shopping for make up.

  • Linda

    “just a flesh wound” – hahaha; I stopped reading right there to come down here and golf clap that little incorporation.

  • Kat

    It’s like their breast cancer campaign where they give, like, a dollar for each product to charity but said product has ingredients that have been linked to causing breast cancer.

  • J

    I loved this article. I HATE that they keep telling us beauty is confidence. I laughed out loud at “So I shot myself.” So I had to explain myself to my former-runway-model boss. That was okay. We just had an argument. And I didn’t get free mascara. Or canapes.But I like this piece anyway.

  • noodles

    This article is amazing.

  • Stephanie Zhao

    YES! I have been saying that for ages, but shunned by my “OMG, you’re so mean!” friends.

  • Anna

    That was the best article I have read in a long time, “So I shot myself.” – hilarious! But thank you for this, it made me feel 10 times better about not caring about being a size 0, all it’s going to do is make me hungry.

  • Sarah

    HAHA this is so true….. I am so relieved to know I am not the only one rolling my eyes at the whole ” Be confident, look in the mirror and love who you are!” bull shit. I would like to know who they polled to get their stats….

  • wade

    Look over here to this.You have never seen. cheap nfl jerseys This is you and me a platform of communication and see, like,do not hesitate to contact me, I believe that I won’t let you down!

  • Patricia

    Have I mentioned how much I enjoy Jennifer Wright’s articles? They’re so spot on, clear and well written.

    Regarding the article, I still fail to understand how are we supposed to feel confident while we are constantly bombarded with images of “perfect” women claiming they’re not perfect! They’re just like me! You know, UGLY!
    Geez. Nowadays I’m totally fine with my looks and even – gasp – consider myself pretty, it took me years, tears and a small fortune wasted on cosmetics that somehow never made me look like CLaudia Schiffer to get here. So bollocks to Estee Lauder, no matter how much I splattered night cream on my face, it refused to look airbrushed and Claudia Schiffer-ey.

  • Arie

    I try finding my size online for shopping and get bombarded with search results of this crap. YOU are not born to be tall, slender – GET OVER IT AND STOP B—-ING!! Seriously beauty is confidence. Being born FLAT CHESTED I have learned to be confident and strutt my stuff ANYWAY because I’m don’t let society tell me how I should look. Now, I have a good marriage, had a vaginal birth, nursed a baby into healthy toddlerhood and guess what, it’s because I am a wombed human being, A WOMAN. I have acne sometimes, get moody, but I still love life, because the person next to has their own path and I have mine, and maybe we can share our stories, maybe we can’t but trust me, God made no mistake when he made me, and no mistake when he made you. The question is, when will you stop tearing others down and learn to really just love yourself. Stop reading magazines, if you can’t find your beauty being celebrated, leave it alone. But stop issuing hate in other women because they are not you. NOW CAN SOMEONE TELL ME WHERE I CAN BY ADULT CONSERVATIVE JEANS IN MY SIZE so I can avoid being exposed to all this god awfull prejudice against my body; it’s unhealthy for everyone.

  • Arie

    FYI, that would be a size 0, Christ, I can hear all the vile spews of hatred and predjudice. I am no longer going to ever, ever, type “size 0 jeans” in google again. Equivilant to typing n-word and getting vile white supremicist results.