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Why We Should Stop Equating Fashion & Makeup With Female Empowerment

Commodity culture and materialism have a long history of interfering with the lives of women. With the rise of modern feminism, and women having more autonomy, companies have followed by advertising products which speak of empowerment but remain primarily one of many purchasing products. A lot of popular brands and fast fashion have used the term “FEMINIST” in the way brands use social movements in general to sell products. There are also “feminist statement” t-shirts selling for at least $20, if not more. This style of advertising is more development, but, admittedly, it goes back to corporations selling “flower power” in the 1960s or luring women into smoking cigarettes in the 1920s. A once-powerful and political term today becomes a fashion piece while diluting its meaning within a context of merchandise advertising. The product is not only overpriced, but also feels more and more hypocritical and farcical.  Young women remain the target for makeup and hygiene products, all with a stated aim to make young women feel better about ourselves, which ultimately means they will have great success socially and in their career. Underneath that, however, is a FOMO and threat that one is not going to succeed without the product. One sees red lipstick marketed in a manner which tells women how a particular brand will cause them to conquer nearly anything in life. One hears or sees there is nothing stronger than a woman with a perfectly-applied eyeliner wing. The effect becomes not only overwhelming, but toxic in the sense that women feel compelled to keep up. One sees this most oppressively in job interviews and first days on the job where a woman’s dress, makeup and other accouterments are judged in a manner where second chances are not likely to be found. It alienates women in oppressive ways because the woman is not judged on her character; rather her character is judged by her wardrobe and makeup. 

Skincare morning routine

Far from being liberating, the advertising promotes commodification of female empowerment. It creates a toxic judgment men are often immune to, where men have very narrow and hardly changing wardrobes and do not have the burden of wearing makeup. Men have deodorant and maybe hair gel, but not much else. There is no longer any reason women should acquiesce in society’s game of fashion. Liberating women from the burden of highlighting and promoting physical beauty should no longer be a factor in any woman’s success in society or more particularly in employment.  Wearing lipstick, eyeshadow and putting on eyelashes are not acts of empowerment. Too often they represent submission to patriarchal authority and are more a cause of low self-esteem and lack of confidence.