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A Passion For Products
On Kate Hudson's new skincare collab and the ever-present pull of PRODUCTS.
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In October of 2016, Kate Hudson famously told Marie Claire, “I have a passion for wanting to do things. I want to be a part of things that are going on.” The smooth-brained quote was pulled and presented, in all caps, on a full-page portrait of Hudson in a formal gown. A meme was born.
In the years since, Hudson has certainly proved her passion for things. She launched a line of workout clothing with Fabletics. She created a supplement company called InBloom. She brought “alkaline water vodka” to market with her alcohol brand King St. “Now, she is setting her sights on beauty,” reports WWD. The Kate Hudson x Juice Beauty Revitalizing Acacia and Rose Powder Mask launched last week.
But that’s not what I want to talk about today.
While Hudson obviously has more means than the average person, and uses her means to produce and promote ultimately unnecessary products for the masses to later middle-man into a landfill — whoops, I mean, buy — I think her mindset is pretty relatable: She seems to have confused a passion for life with a passion for products.
Under capitalism, it’s an easy mistake to make. It’s kind of the whole point, actually.
The “father of capitalism,” Adam Smith (1723 - 1790), said that the success of capitalism depended on wide-scale “deception” of the human soul — that this system could only work if people believed accumulating wealth (producing) and accumulating things (purchasing) would lead to happiness. “[I]t is this deception which rouses and keeps in continual motion the industry of mankind,” he wrote.
Pleasure became product-making. (Monetize your hobby!)
Love became product-giving. (“A diamond is forever.”)
Self-care became product-buying. (Retail therapy, anyone?)
Wellness became product-using (supplements, bath bombs).
“Keeping people in a constant state of lack, in perpetual desire, strengthens the marketplace economy,” as bell hooks wrote in All About Love. “Lovelessness is a boon to consumerism.”
And so, products became proxies for passion, for joy, for acceptance, for excitement, for care, for wonder, for love.
This sort of backwards transfiguration is everywhere, but it’s especially prevalent in beauty culture. Brands teach us to treat the feeling of age anxiety with the product of Botox. They promise to assuage the feeling of inadequacy with the product of acid exfoliator. They aren’t selling face cream — they’re selling (false) fuzzy feelings: Just look to products like Confidence In A Cream, Self-Esteem Serum, Hope In A Jar, and Best Life Hair Oil. These names are objectively bizarre — but the concept of product-as-emotional-proxy is so normalized, nobody bats an eye when something like Secure Attachment Comfort Serum (!!!) hits the market.
In an exclusive interview with Allure about her entrance into the skincare industry, Hudson said: “Any ritual that slows down the process of your day, anything that connects you to honoring yourself, is actually good for the brain … I love my beauty routines. It's kind of the one time I have to myself in my bathroom.” It made me want to time-travel back to 1750 and smack Smith across the face for fucking us up the way he did. Ritual is a beautiful, necessary thing. So is slowing down. So is honoring yourself. Hell, so is having time alone in the bathroom! None of these things requires an external product!!! Citing ritual as justification for cosmetic consumerism is an insult to ritual.
***DISCLAIMER: This is not to say that all products are “bad” or unnecessary. Pointing out that a bottle of serum has nothing to do with your spiritual being is not a critique. It’s simply a fact. I’ve written more about this here.***
Anyway, Kate, if you’re reading: You don’t need a Revitalizing Rose Powder Face Mask. You need to revitalize your pure, innocent “passion for wanting to do things” — and leave the products out of it.
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