1-Minute Musing: The Medical Gaze
A quick, couple-paragraph thought.
I saw an ad for Youthforia’s foundation primer the other day that featured a molecular graph of the structural formula for silicone. It was meant to highlight how the cosmetic chemical prevents foundation from slipping. Instead, it made me realize: Where the industry once used sex to sell beauty standards, it now uses “science.”
Today, dermatologists recommend cosmetic treatments (like lasers and fillers) at healthcare appointments (like skin cancer screenings). Doctors use med school degrees to start self-branded skincare companies, and medicalize beauty culture to shill makeup on Instagram. Allure recently released an Ingredient Index styled after the periodic table of elements, leaning on the practical nature chemistry to sell logic-defying forms of aesthetic manipulation. ELLE recently published an article about the health applications of Botox, leveraging them to encourage the drug’s cosmetic use.
All of this — the so-called “science” of beauty — offers women a way to intellectualize an obsession with their appearance; a way to justify the submission of their bodies to current cultural beauty ideals. I have a longer article about this in the works for another publication, but for now let me say: At least in terms of beauty industry advertising, the medical gaze is the new male gaze!!