Last weekend, runners in the Nike’s Women Marathon DC were surprised to see some creepy, weird signs being held by frat boys. The posters commented on their looks, saying stuff like, “Cute running shoes” and “You look beautiful all sweaty.” They were part of a campaign by makeup company BareMinerals — and they were anything but empowering. In fact, they just promoted street harassment and the idea that female athletes (and all women) should somehow care about how they look to men while exercising.
This kind of obnoxious campaign doesn’t encourage anybody; it just tells us that we should don our hair and makeup according to what dudes like. It implies that if they like makeup, we should wear makeup; if they like bare faces (baremineral‘d faces!), we should go bare. It’s ridiculous because it is still telling women to put on or not put on cosmetics according to how men will react. It is not inspirational; it’s a patronizing, gross generalization of why women wear cosmetics.
Plus, I kind of just get irritated at companies like BareMinerals anyway, as they promote this whole “go natural!” ideal while simultaneously telling you to buy stuff because your natural complexion isn’t good enough. Be natural — except better, because you spent $60 on a starter kit with several steps. It’s almost like putting nothing on your face, except it took you half an hour to do so.
On the bright side, BareMinerals responded fairly well to Collective Action’s (justifiable) anger, sending them a statement that read:
“First and foremost, we want to say how incredibly sorry we are that we caused any offense. Our messages were meant to motivate and support but you’ve made us realize that not everybody would find these messages motivational or supportive.It’s ironic because you’re exactly the kind of women that we are inspired by because you’re fighting the good fight and standing up for women. Our mission is to make a positive difference in women’s lives and to inspire women to be their very best. So to know that this is not what was translated on the street really pains us. We take your concerns so seriously, and we really believe this is a learning opportunity for our brand. Please rest assured that these signs will not be used going forward on the Go Bare tour. We’re glad we’re having this chance to learn.”
While I am very happy that BareMinerals responded appropriately, we hope this primarily serves as a warning to other beauty companies: stop telling us to care what men think of us. We run because we want to. We wear lipstick because we want to. We can do both and we don’t need you to explain how we should go about either.