Discover more from The Unpublishable
The Physiognomy of Anne Hathaway & The Anatomy of An 'It' Girl
The Don't Buy List: Issue #50
The Met Gala moment that really got me going was this viral tweet, which features three images of Anne Hathaway and the caption, “this is how u age when u are unproblematic.”
First of all, no — this is how you age when you are rich and have access to all manner of expensive aesthetic interventions, blah blah blah. (As I always say: Our cultural definition of “beauty” has little to do with beauty and much to do with money.) Second of all, NO!!! — this is some brainwashed beauty-as-an-ethical-ideal logic. This is some made-up Disney movie messaging. “Beautiful”/young-looking people aren’t inherently good. “Ugly”/old-looking people aren’t inherently bad. Positioning attractiveness and proximity to youth as moral qualities — like, as another example, condemning the misogynistic behavior of politicians like Donald Trump or Matt Gaetz by making fun of their faces — only compounds the problems of beauty culture. Stop doing this.
Onto the links!
Conservatives are calling for a boycott of Maybelline after the cosmetics company partnered with trans influencer Dylan Mulvaney. Because it’s only OK when cisgender women use makeup to create and conform to “traditional” gender roles, I guess? It’s like… do these people not see that insisting makeup is a marker of femininity exposes femininity as an unnatural construct?? Honestly. Brains as smooth as Dysport-frozen foreheads.
If you want to boycott a beauty retailer, boycott Walgreens. According to a Popular Information investigation, Walgreens is “refusing to dispense abortion pills in several states where abortion remains legal.” The state of California is refusing to do business with Walgreens as a result, and you can too. Reminder: Walgreens has seen significant growth in the beauty sector over the past couple years, thanks to its in-house skincare range, No7, and popular brands like CeraVe and Neutrogena. It promotes these products with promises of “health” and “wellness” — but health and wellness are not possible without access to reproductive healthcare. Don’t buy their marketing lines! Don’t buy from them, period!! (For more on anti-choice beauty brands, check out my investigation from September.)
The latest issue of New York Magazine chronicles “a century of the New York ‘It’ Girl.” As I looked over the list — Pat Cleveland, Debi Mazar, Chloë Sevigny, Cory Kennedy — I remembered this brilliant Gawker article. “The secret sauce for It Girl status,” Olivia Craighead wrote, is “any feature that you cannot obtain via plastic surgery.” And it’s true! Pat’s high forehead. Debi’s pursed lips and lisp. Chloë’s bone structure. Cory’s droopy, dead-inside-or-about-to-be eyes.
Here’s the catch: Literally every other physical attribute of an It Girl must be considered conventionally attractive. In the negotiation of standardized beauty, women are only allowed one (1) deviation from the norm!
I am softly chuckling at the fact that Allure dubbed “the summer’s biggest hair color trend” sombré. Sombré!!! The sad-sounding portmanteau for “soft ombré” is supposed to signal a “lived-in look” — one that suggests the wearer is too busy loving life to set foot in a salon. This, of course, is a lie, since going sombré is a time-, money-, and effort-intensive process (Allure’s expert recommends “asking your stylist for gradient color, which is often achieved by laying larger panels of balayage or highlights throughout the mid-shaft and ends of the hair”). Somber indeed.
Sad in a different way: Skincare company A.P. Chem is “bringing psychedelics to skincare” with the ayahuasca-inspired EYEahuasca Enlightening Eye Treatment. Do people in the beauty industry not see how greedy and gross and colonizer-esque it is to co-opt the name of sacred plant medicine from South America, capitalize on its history of spiritual healing within Indigenous communities, attach it to a “treatment to reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles,” call it “enlightenment,” and market it with this model??
Or do they just not care?
“The notion of the hag at its essence speaks to how, in many cultures at least, older women are figures of disgust," explains Deborah Jermyn, a film studies researcher at the University of Roehampton, of these movies. “In a society where women’s capital is most overtly tied to beauty and fertility, and beauty and fertility are the province of youth, older women thus cease to have a demonstrable function, and their presence becomes troublesome, repugnant and irksome. This is why older women featured heavily among those historically accused of being witches; Hagsploitation cinema crystallises all these ideas.”
Full article here.
CNN has fired Don Lemon months after the anchor claimed 51-year-old Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley “isn’t in her prime,” as women are only “considered to be in their prime in 20s and 30s and maybe 40s.” Cool. Love it. Let’s do every beauty brand, dermatologist, influencer, and editor that implies the same exact thing via anti-aging content next.
“I am the beauty standard,” Lizzo declared in a new interview with The Cut about beauty standards, illustrating a fundamental misunderstanding of beauty standards. I mean, the problem with having a “standard of beauty” is not the specific features that make up said standard! The problem is that a standard exists. I do understand what she’s trying to say here, but language matters. “Language is power,” as feminist poet Adrienne Rich wrote. “Language can be used as a means of changing reality.” If we want to change the reality of today’s narrow, oppressive, Eurocentric beauty standards, we have to be clear about what we want instead: not a different standard of beauty, but no standard of beauty. And by that I mean: No one should have to align with any particular aesthetic ideal in order to access human rights, humane treatment, social/financial/political capital, etc.
With that, I have two thoughts re: GQ’s “Meet the Men Paying Thousands for an Invasive Surgery to Get Younger-Looking Eyes.” 1) Sucks that anti-aging ideology has now infiltrated the full gender spectrum on the physical plane but 2) old and old-looking men still rule the world.
Finally, I’ll leave you with this tweet:
YES, I’m down to blame industrialized beauty for the closing of PAPER Magazine, Bookforum, Bitch, Astra, Gawker, gal-dem, etc. Just one more way celebrity skincare is killing the culture!!
You’re Gonna Die Someday No Matter How Young You Look,