The cosmopolitan, sophisticated, and model-like woman pretty much epitomizes the identity of drug store makeup brands like Maybelline. On top of that, most of these women are Caucasian. Maybelline has tried to incorporate messages of feminism into their original brand personality through their “Make It Happen Movement,” but it’s not coming off right. Using a Maybelline woman to convey messages about feminism and girl power is really problematic and awkward because it puts forth the following three things.
#1 As a woman, you have to be Caucasian, conventionally beautiful, and sexy to be powerful and competent.
When we think about Maybelline, images of women who wear black stilettos, red lipstick, and diamonds are summoned. She is a woman who is at the center of New York, the glamour scene, and the sophisticated business world. Men and women turn their head when she walks in the room. People take her seriously. People know she has money. And most of all, people know that’s she’s beautiful and rarely seen with a trace of imperfection. With that being said, positioning Maybelline's female troupe in the world of feminism is uncomfortable because, at its core, feminism affirms a woman’s identity as something that is determined by women themselves.
The Maybelline archetype embodies everything a man thinks a powerful woman should be, and puts forth a very strict, cis-gendered definition that is backed by imagery about what it means to be a “powerful woman.” And if Maybelline’s feminism harkens back to ideals originated in patriarchy, is it really feminist at all? There’s nothing wrong with women identifying with this troupe, but associating sexiness, glamour, and flawlessness with feminine power is really problematic and limiting because it oversimplifies the vast and diverse meanings of womanhood
#2 As a woman, you have to possess wealth in order to command the respect of others.
Classism is not good.
That’s really all that needs to be said, but here is some further explanation. Especially when we talk about feminism, assigning monetary worth to women or anyone has never been a feminist value. As mentioned before, feminism encourages the separation of womanly identity from profit and commercialism. A woman’s identity is not meant to be exploited or exhibited. It is simply for her.
#3 As a woman, you have to be perfect (and make it look effortless) in order to compete in the world.
This is a lot of pressure. When a woman messes up in a corporate setting, she’s much more likely to be lambasted because she’s seen as weaker. Moreover, women simply do not have the same social liberation in the workplace. Can you imagine a woman having a show like “The Apprentice?” No, it’s not imaginable so the Maybelline woman is poised, posh, and perfect, and pretty because she understands her power in that. She understands that being enticing is convenient to dominating her environment. Many times, women are confronted with this, but we have to seek to change rather than reinforce this scenario because women are so much more.