An Unsent Letter To: The Beauty Industry

(….Specifically to everyone responsible for this….).

I tried to let this one go, I really have. But it’s been about 12 hours and I can’t. I am still intermittently thinking about it and doing my “This is a thing…?!” face (see also: commercial R&B, UKIP, these things written about a tennis player). So, steady yourselves, for this may blow your fragile minds in the heat, but there are some situations I don’t particularly care about looking nice in.

I’m not a beauty writer; when I do see your promotions it’s usually the daft ones someone’s wanted to share because they’re daft, so forgive my tone here. But really, some of them are daft aren’t they? And the daftest of the daft are for any product or feature that concerns itself with making women look nice a) on flights, or b) during childbirth. If there are two scenarios where I and – I guarantee you, most sensible women alive – couldn’t care less about looking like a sack of shit with eyes, it is those two.

When I’m flying (which is rarely – in my sector the only affordable holiday is a present from your family, and the only business trips I go on are up North by squashed train) there are possibly two things on my mind: Will I get something to eat which isn’t meat and is half-recognisably food? Will my luggage and I get out of here in one piece? Even if, hypothetically, I was Very Important and flying into New York to be greeted at the airport by a Very Important representative of Totes Brillo Inc, if he didn’t understand that a woman who’s just stepped off a six-hour flight mightn’t be catwalk material then frankly you’re better off not doing business. I mean, would you trust him to look after a plastic spoon, let alone the LIBOR rate…?

Similarly, I’m no authority on giving birth. But by my imaginative powers – and knowing a few women who’ve made that particular leap of pain threshold – I can picture a few of the things that might go through a mind in that situation. Guess what – none of them are: “Gosh, if only I had worn mascara and put on some nicely-scented face cream ejecting seven pounds of screaming flesh would be so much less of a bore….!!” Whisper it, doctors have seen lots of women in labour. Unless you’ve mislaid a packet of Pringles or the new Jodi Picoult up your birth canal I don’t think anything’s going to be too much of a shock.

As someone’s dad told my group on Business Awareness Day in Year 10, selling isn’t just about selling, it’s about knowing who to sell to and when. Cosmetics are great but aren’t greatly necessary for every occasion. Like, clowns are great but funerals aren’t really the right demographic, if you see where this is going. At certain levels, taking care of your appearance is a sign of healthy self-respect (trust me, I know where the line is: I’ve been greeted for dinner by a man wearing a grubby yellow high-vis safety vest, * for no occupational reason…) . At certain levels, however, it is a sign of being stonking ridiculous. Understand the difference, please. Sincerely yours.

* I wish I was making that up. I’m not. Just as I wish that article link was made up, and it’s not.


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