Skip Benefit, Not Class | Feminism Up

Feminism Up issue #3 is live and you can sign up to read it HERE! The August issue is full of interesting thoughts by brilliant writers. One thing I decided to personally address was Benefit’s Skip Class Not Concealer advert that attracted a lot of ugly attention- and, rightly so. Below is the first article of issue #3 and I’d love to find out what you think in the comments. Is it a step too far? Has it made you reconsider their values?

Issue threeeeBenefit Cosmetics is a popular beauty brand that sometimes packages its products with entirely unintelligent designs. I have been a fan of their They’re Real mascara for years now and have been delighted to open up minis of their products at Christmas. Their daring packaging is sometimes brilliant, but when it’s not, it’s really not. And their recent “Skip class not concealer” advertising has been well and truly dumped in the This Really Sucks pile. Rightly so, too. The advert sees a young woman who has just woken up accompanied by this tacky slogan that proves to be far more alarming than the clock in her hand.

So many girls around the world are forced out of education; so many aren’t even given the chance. Benefit’s advertising makes a mockery out of the education the girls purchasing this concealer are receiving. While education should be the norm, we must not take it for granted. Education should be celebrated, not considered unfashionable. Benefit have foolishly decided to promote the ugly idea that our looks may only be valid with the help of their concealer; that looks should always be placed above intelligence and working hard. A message so many high-profile figures have been working hard to abolish. Michelle Obama, Malala Yousafzai and Emma Watson are just a few that spring to mind. More than ever before, it’s cool to be smart; it’s cool to try hard. Let’s not undo all of this hard work with this advert so devoid of hope.

This campaign encourages (predominantly) young girls to feel uncomfortable in their own skin; a message we, of course, don’t want to be sending. The advert suggests using concealer is a necessity, not a choice. Young people (or anyone) should never feel pressured into wearing make-up and they most certainly shouldn’t be exposed to advertising that puts education as second best. So why are one of the world’s leading beauty brands choosing tacky and uninspiring advertising, over advertising that encourages us all to feel comfortable and empowered by our make-up choices?

Since my eyeliner-winged eyes widened at the sight of Benefit’s new icky advertising, I have done my research and found a handful more adverts that lack elegance. The company has not been shy of depicting a no make-up look alongside the word (wait for it… it’s a good one) “yuck.” The second picture will feature the same woman with their promoted product showcased and the word “wow!”… “Rolls eyes until develops a headache.* You don’t need to google for long to continue finding questionable adverts.

Make-up is an area that has always interested me in terms of feminism. Ever since I can remember the phrase, “She wears too much make-up” has been carelessly thrown around. Referring to people the speaker did know; referring to people the speaker didn’t know. When a male would wear make-up, this was also a noteworthy occasion; someone just had to say something. No one should be shamed for how they present themselves. Make-up or not make-up; female or male. Benefit’s recent advert puts pressure on the young girl that already feels alarmed by what she “should” and “should not” be doing or wearing, encouraging her to wrongly conclude that it’s far cooler to use make-up than to make the most of education. Feminism has also challenged the person who believes, in order to succeed, women must wear make-up. Benefit unfortunately doesn’t disagree, encouraging young girls to cover up imperfections before skipping class, thereby suggesting make-up is a marker of success; not engaging with education. Choosing to wear or not to wear make-up should be a choice; a choice that should never be considered influential in terms of one’s success.

It needs to be made known that we should not just turn a blind eye to campaigns such as these. Before last month I hadn’t thought twice about Benefit’s advertising; blindly taking part in consumerism without properly engaging with the thoughtless words. (And I’m an English graduate.) The “Skip class not concealer” advertising has definitely made me think twice about where my pennies are spent. I have decided I don’t want to pump money into a company that aren’t celebrating us all. For this reason, I will shortly be ditching my They’re Real mascara in exchange for a product that draws attention to my eyes that are eager to be educated.

Benefit: Detention for you.

~ Kat ~

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