What Does It Mean To Critique Beauty?
And why I can't do it without you.
In Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma by Clare Dederer (which I truly enjoyed), the author describes the structure she uses to review films: “What is the film trying to do? Does it succeed? Was it a worthy objective in the first place?”
Applying this structure to my critique of the beauty industry would look something like this:
What is the beauty industry trying to do? Center beauty in our lives; present it as a path to love, happiness, care, connection, expression, empowerment, and actualization.
Does it succeed? No; it instead conditions us to center our own physical appearance — which has little to do with beauty and often has the opposite of the intended effect, in that it can lead to discontent, disconnection, dissociation, disempowerment, and all manner of physical and psychological health issues.
So that’s the goal of this newsletter, I guess. To acknowledge the importance of beauty, the power it has to shape and enhance and enrich our lives. To acknowledge the failure of the beauty industry to fulfill its promises, so that we might stop funneling our time and attention and money and energy into it and find fulfillment elsewhere.
I think it’s a worthy project, and one that the beauty media (both traditional and social) has pretty much refused to take on. Which is a longwinded but hopefully clarifying way to introduce… Substack’s new referral program! Lol. Basically, when you invite friends to subscribe to The Unpublishable — and join in the project of thinking about beauty more critically — you get access to paid content for free.
How to participate
1. Share The Unpublishable. When you use the referral link below, or the “Share” button on any post, you'll get credit for any new subscribers. Simply send the link in a text, email, or share it on social media with friends.
2. Earn benefits. When more friends use your referral link to subscribe (free or paid), you’ll receive special benefits.
Get a 1 month comp for 3 referrals
Get a 3 month comp for 5 referrals
Get a 6 month comp for 25 referrals
To learn more, check out Substack’s FAQ.
For more on beauty vs. appearance: