Discover more from The Unpublishable
That Bioré Pore Strip School Shooting Ad
& some other things.
An influencer lies on her bed, eyes open, staring into space. “I find myself recently struggling from seeing the effects of gun violence firsthand,” she says via voiceover. A gunman killed three of her fellow students at Michigan State University earlier this year. “I will never forget the feeling of terror I had walking around campus for weeks … from countless anxiety attacks to crying alone in my room at night,” she continues, upbeat music bopping in the background. Then: “Join me and Bioré Skincare in speaking up about mental health!” She peels open a pore strip, sticks it on the bridge of her nose, smiles.
Yes, Bioré sponsored an influencer advertisement implying its (unadvisable) products can soothe the trauma of a school shooting. Yes, it’s awful. Yes, people are outraged about it. And they should be! They maybe shouldn’t be surprised, though. As I told Washington Post reporter María Luisa Paúl when she interviewed me for her investigation into the ad, “The beauty industry has been feeding us this messaging about beauty products being some sort of solution to stress, or an act of self-care and wellness … for a pretty long time.” For instance, just a few days after the Bioré debacle, I received this PR email:
Predatory marketing that capitalizes on customers’ declining mental health is nothing new. It’s also not the core issue here.
Companies like Bioré are able to profit off of the national epidemic of near-constant gun violence because the United States government refuses to do anything about it. Politicians have yet to provide citizens with reform, regulation, or hope for a future free from weekly mass shootings. In a capitalist society, this opens the door for corporations to offer consumer-centric “solutions” instead. And why wouldn’t they? Businesses exist to make money, period. And why wouldn’t we buy in? “What are the other resources that are available to young women, in particular, who are experiencing these sorts of things in America?” I asked in the Post piece. “What resources are we offering to victims of gun violence? Where do they have to turn?”
Our elected officials are failing us, miserably. It makes sense to me that a young person traumatized by a school shooting or anxiously anticipating the next one — and there will be a next one — might see that and say, I guess I’ll try a Bioré pore strip.
“How To Stop Hating Your Face” by Aubree Nichols for the Los Angeles Times
“Our lives are increasingly virtual, so we have fewer inputs for what a real human face looks like,” says Jessica DeFino, former beauty writer and founder of The Unpublishable, a Substack newsletter with more than 70,000 subscribers that exposes the untold secrets of the beauty industry. “With filters, we’re constantly inundated with digitally altered images to measure ourselves against,” she explains. “Beauty standards are getting more demanding, dehumanizing and impossible to maintain.”
“Nipped, Tucked, & Woke As F*ck: Gen Z & The Politics of Plastic Surgery” by Alexandra Pauly for Highsnobiety
Jessica DeFino, a reporter whose work takes an unflinchingly critical look at the beauty industry, characterizes the decision to undergo a cosmetic procedure as a “coerced choice,” one coaxed by a culture in which women are rewarded for manipulating their appearance to meet an impossible standard of beauty. “This idea that anything a woman does is inherently feminist because she's choosing to do it is obviously very problematic,” she says. “It doesn't look at the underlying cultural and socioeconomic factors that influence our choices, or the wider impact of our choices.” That’s where plastic-surgery-as-empowerment-speak falls short: It fails to recognize that cosmetic surgery and injectables help perpetuate a beauty culture that harms everyone – particularly women of color.
“Animal Testing & Harm Within the Beauty Industry” by Molly Lipson for Atmos
Jessica DeFino explains that the beauty industry harms animals — and the wider environment — just by existing. “There are so many activists who are very passionate about animal testing…and I would invite them to think of some of the other, perhaps more under the radar, ways that the cosmetics industry is contributing to climate change and is killing animals, biodiversity, microorganisms in the soil, ocean life,” she said. “It’s all linked.”
“About that Martha Stewart Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue Cover...” hosted by Sari Botton for Oldster Magazine
Progressive inclusivity? Reinforcement of impossible beauty standards? None of our business? A [video] chat with Valerie Monroe, Laurie Stone, Carolita Johnson, and Jessica DeFino, moderated by Sari Botton.