Stop Buying Breast Cancer Awareness Lip Gloss
The Don't Buy List: Issue #61
Hello, dewy dust bunnies, and welcome to another edition of the The Don’t Buy List! October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. You probably already knew that though, thanks to the beauty industry’s yearly parade of pink ribbon-adorned products. You know, that classic “here, buy a lip gloss you don’t really need — made with petrochemical byproducts of the fossil fuels that are driving increased cancer rates, packaged in plastic that’s also linked to cancer, and delivered to stores or even your own home using carcinogenic shipping fuel — and we’ll donate a small portion of proceeds to breast cancer research and pocket the rest!” thing?
My mother has stage 4 metastatic breast cancer, and I can barely type the words without crying off my limited-edition, pink-dyed, de-puffing Baggage Claim Under Eye Masks. Juuust kidding about that last part! I would never buy tumor-inspired skincare when I could just donate $20 to METAvivor instead. (Did you know that most money raised for breast cancer research goes toward breast cancer prevention and early detection? Only about 2% goes toward research on stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. Today is Metastatic Breast Cancer Day, so if you feel compelled to support stage 4 patients without consuming something useless in the process, now’s the time! Make a donation here — no mineral oil moisturizer included.)
Also: I’ll be joining my mom and her cancer care team at the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walkathon next weekend! You can support our team here.
Anyway! Onto the links…
In this issue: Pamela Anderson goes makeup-free! Lipstick as transubstantiation! Injury as an appearance ideal! The Golden Bachelor! The danger of tweakments! Perfect teeth! Body renovation shows were the original home renovation shows! “Cruelty-free” is a joke! Julia Fox’s memoir! Youthforia! And more!
Pamela Anderson didn’t wear makeup at Paris Fashion Week and people are losing their minds about it.
My take? Anderson is a much-need model for what it might look like to divest from beauty culture. Like… you can reevaluate your choices! You can change your mind, even after you change your face! You can just stop!! (I’m thinking of professor Clare Chambers’ philosophical concept of the unmodified body: “The unmodified body is not a literal thing,” she says. “Your body might be very much left alone, or it might have had surgery or undergone procedures. The idea is that whatever your body is like, right now, you can let it be.”) I don’t think this is a gimmick for Anderson. This isn’t some “clean girl”, faux-less-is-more status performance. For one thing, the 56-year-old is not skipping makeup so she can launch a skincare line or shill no-makeup makeup products via affiliate links; there’s no consumerism tie-in here (yet). For another, she’s spoken openly about regretting getting breast implants and Botox for years now; in her memoir (which I recommend reading), she admitted feeling pressured to undergo cosmetic procedures she didn’t truly want for herself. Going makeup-free seems like an authentic choice for her. I think it’s great. (Of course, Anderson’s thinness, whiteness, money, and social status all make it easier for her to skip the makeup without facing social consequences. This is the fault of systems of discrimination, not Anderson. And again, she’s not trying to manipulate these systems for her own profit here! She’s not engineering publicity to sell products! She’s living her life and getting publicity. There’s a difference. Also keep in mind that many, many, many women go without makeup on a daily basis. It’s rare to see it in the celebrity space, especially at Paris Fashion Week, but this is also… normal-to-the-point-of-boring behavior overall.)
“For instance, if you are trans, it’s really hard to divest from very gendered beauty performance, because that might put you at risk. If you are older, you might not want to divest from anti-aging behaviors because you feel your job depends on it. There are obligations for women of color as well. There's so much racism and colorism tied up in ideas of cleanliness and how your hair should be worn. It’s important to be sensitive to that and to also realize that there are little ways in which it is safe and healthy and maybe even good for you mentally, physically, psychologically, spiritually, to step away from a certain beauty product, procedure, or behavior and realize, okay, I'm actually fine without it. For me, it's all about finding those little moments. That line will be different for everybody.”
The full interview includes my theory of “aesthetic inflation” plus takes on sunscreen anxiety, the anti-aging myth, and the pseudoscience of skincare.