Benefit Cosmetics has come under fire recently for their Skip Class Not Concealer campaign, seemingly implying that beauty, rather than brains, is the thing that society values about females. It has understandably received a lot of backlash with many feeling that it is another example of everyday sexism that should not be coming out of a company who surely should be aiming to empower women.
I personally find the whole advert quite confusing and more than a little tiresome. I suffered bad acne as a teenager and wearing make up to cover my skin was an essential part of getting ready for school because I felt too uncomfortable going bare. I am 100% sure that many people felt or feel the same. It also gets under my skin (see what I did there) that the discussion point comes back time and again to appearance. Sometimes it feels like you are never going to win; you choose not to wear make up and run the risk of people thinking that you look scruffy, unprofessional, tired or, in my case, ill. I have lost count of the amount of times my family have asked if I am feeling unwell only for me to have to reply that no, I just look this rough naturally. Having said that, I felt anxious before a recent presentation about how much make up I had put on, not wanting to be perceived as a bimbo or like someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about. I do believe it can be a fine line to tread and it really shouldn’t be.
I have worked previously in a very male dominated environment. I was asked at my interview how I would ‘deal with working alongside a lot of men’ and the comments I received throughout my time there, whilst mainly friendly and good-natured, made it clear that I was being judged on my appearance. I am heckled on a regular basis when out running and what upsets me most is when this occurs during the training sessions when I am ‘breaking in’ my charity vests. To some I am not a runner who is trying to raise money for and awareness of ovarian cancer but an object to poke fun at, intimidate or embarrass.
There are positives though. Instagram in particular is becoming a platform for women to boost each other’s confidence and share motivation and inspiration. The #nomakeupselfie took off a few years ago and raised a lot of money for charity. Benefit Cosmetics should be trying to encourage such things, not telling women again that their best chance at being successful is to make sure they look good. Having recovered from an eating disorder, I know first hand how dangerous such clumsy messages can be.
More than anything, the whole concept is ridiculous. Who takes so long to put on concealer that they’d have to skip class anyway?