I’m not someone who wears makeup, nothing religious or new age radicalism, I just never could do it right and so I left it all together (barring my Kajal routine that I cannot do without). However, last weekend, I tagged along with a friend who wanted to buy makeup – she is one of the crazy people who have a compulsive disorder to feel inadequate with regards to the amount of makeup you should hoard, in fact she has like 10 different shades of pink lipstick and she thought they were still not enough. So, we both decided to venture to various branded stores in hunt for the missing shade of pink for her collection.

Since I’m naive to the different types of makeup products, I was in for a shock with the type of nonsense that was being sold so you could look pretty – not for yourself but for some man / woman who would find you f**kable because of the colour of your lipstick or eye shadow. Some of the weirdly sensual names I came across, “The Balm Nude Dude Eyeshadow Palette”, “Kissable Lips Lipstick”, “NARS Orgasm Blush”, “Pussy Galore Nail Polish”, and that’s just a few, aisles are filled with dirty names by brands who believe that dirtier the name, higher the sales.

The Role of An Ad for Cosmetic Brands

This is an ad by the brand Giorgio Armani. It shows a young pretty woman who is partially nude with open long hair. She is using her one hand to curl a strand of her open hair on her neck while caressing her neck loosely. Now, if you remove the brand name and the product image from the picture, you would keep wondering what the product is. The body language and posture of the model is depicted in an extremely sensual and provocative way to make the audience believe that the woman is in need of sexual gratification. Users are left to believe that women need to act their part of being sexual objects so that they are alluring to men and thereby acceptable to the society.

The whole purpose of this ad and similar ads that are thrown at users practically everyday, is to entice an illicit desire in the viewer to constantly upgrade themselves and the only way to do so is by buying these products that will make you look prettier as per the standards of the society. Afterall, isn’t beauty “THE” only thing that every woman needs for success, who cares about intellect, wit and personality. 

Portrayal of Female Sexuality in the Wrong Way

Open instagram and you would see influencer ads about cosmetic products where the female is pouting with the lip gloss ready to kiss or taking the tongue out in a playful way. Nothing wrong in objectifying yourself in a sensual way when you are selling condoms or sex toys, but I fail to understand the need to show makeup products as objects that are erotic in nature. Yes, I understand that such images help boost the sales but what about ethics? Do advertisers have no role in helping to change the image of how society perceives women? False advertising that continues to tie a woman with only sexuality helps add fuel to the deep rooted narrow minded perception about women where they are treated as objects of lesser value than their peer male humans. 

Historically speaking, such ads would have worked in the past when women were restricted to household chores and their primary role was to please their male partners. Women were supposed to act as eye-candies and cling on to the arms of their men in societies as prized trophies. However, modern times need modern narratives. Women are now more self confident as they ever could be, don’t think about themselves as objects and have a mind of their own. Advertising in today’s time needs to show women as who they are and not as what the outdated patriarchy society thinks them to be. 

For me personally, brands that sell sex with cosmetics never seem to have a recall value because they look the same, there is no differentiation, on the contrary, such ads possibly creates a negative attitude towards those brands. Men probably still like the ads with sexual appeal but they are not the ones buying these cosmetics, so it’s time that advertisers embrace the message modern women want to give to society and portray the same in their ads.


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