THE BLOG

Does the Beauty Industry Still Confine Women?

25/11/2015 12:07 GMT | Updated 24/11/2016 10:12 GMT

Beauty advertisers are forever selling products to empower women; we need this lipstick because "we're worth it", and if we buy this mascara we're making a statement. But with beauty advertisers using make-up as a means of empowerment, the question is - are we as women still being defined by traditional ideas of femininity?

Feminist Naomi Wolf (1990) in her book The Beauty Myth believes that there is a connection between the relationship of female liberation and beauty, "we are in the midst of a violent backlash against feminism that uses images of female beauty as a political weapon against women's advancement". Wolf believes that the beauty industry still has the power to limit women and is almost anti-feminist as wearing make-up and investing in to the beauty industry is buying into the patriarchal ideas of gender.

Since the 90s beauty advertisers had to reinvent the way in which they communicated to women. Long gone were the days where they could advertise eyeshadow so blatantly in a way that will supposedly guarantee you a man. Advertisers began to use make-up and beauty as means of empowering women, almost as if make-up products were the new feminism, with words like bold, fierce, strong being attached to a mascara. I mean look at Maybelline's slogan itself "Maybe she's born with it...Maybe it's Maybelline" highlights that Maybelline products and in essence beauty itself can transform you into the woman you want to be.

When I look at the latest brow phenomenon, I ask myself why we have all become so obsessed with our brows. Just two years ago I didn't even look at my brows and now they're like my own personal piece of art work, but why? Is it because the beauty industry developed having flawless brows or "brows on fleek" as a way of exercising beauty and ultimately female empowerment? Ask yourself why did I buy that eyeliner? Why do I want flawlessly clear skin? Effectively it's because the media have created an image of what it means to be beautiful and being this way makes you feel good about yourself. The media have generated an image of ideal beauty that is now a goal for women.

I actually saw an advert for a Maybelline "shine seduction" lip gloss which portrayed a very attractive woman wearing the lipstick with a silhouette of a man in front of her. Which suggests to me that a woman's beauty is a form of power to attract a man through wearing a certain lipstick. Which is slightly on the patriarchal side no?

Based on this advert it appears that the beauty industry are still exercising make-up as a means of women wanting to attract men. I know a lot of women will read this and think "I wear make-up because I want to and because I enjoy it" and rightly so, I am exactly the same. But when you think about it beauty advertisers are selling make up products that advertise that beauty is basically an achievement for all women. Does female power, in a society that relies so much on self-image derive from beauty?

Some feminists may argue you can't wear make-up and be a feminist...I definitely disagree. But I do believe that whether we enjoy wearing make-up because it does make us feel good, that beauty advertising still portrays a very idealistic image of beauty that is often depicts being pretty or having long eyelashes as a woman's form of empowerment.