According to a popular beauty brand, “ugly” is the new social trend they’re trying to hinge on for 2020. And yes, it allegedly sounds as bad as you’d expect.
Estée Laundry, an online beauty watchdog, recently called out Benefit Cosmetics for including “looking ugly” in a list of “pop culture/social trends” during a brainstorm meeting. Their source didn’t indicate whether it’s going to be used for their 2020 ads, but Benefit has been criticized for using makeup-shaming tactics in the past.
In 2017, a Reddit user shared a Benefit ad where it called a woman “yuck” for not having winged liner and the eye with liner is “wow.” Several netizens were offended, saying that the brand is basically telling women they have to wear eyeliner to attain a certain beauty standard.
It doesn’t stop there. Estée Laundry also received a Benefit ad screenshot from a follower which called a natural brow “weak” while the shaped brow had a positive description. As many of you know, Benefit prides themselves on their brow products and services. The landing page for the Benefit BrowBar even shows a woman with thick, exaggerated brows to advertise their brow waxing.
But if we were to give the brand the benefit (heh, pun) of the doubt, it’s possible that they’re over their makeup-shaming ways and will hinge on “ugly” beauty.
What is ugly beauty?
Last year, ugly beauty was a hit among makeup lovers because they didn’t need to follow the conventional rules of beauty. As Dazed Media editorial director Bunny Kinney told Confidentials, “Beauty is not synonymous with looking good. People recognize beauty as a way of transformation—being scary or ugly is part of that.”
This is why we also saw weird trends pop up in the last couple of years: topsy-turvy makeup looks, nose hair extensions, ribbon brows and prosthetics, among many others. Many of them were silly online challenges, but people still embraced the weirdness.
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At the same time, this rise of unconventional beauty encouraged people to be more body and skin neutral. Now we see more posts of women flaunting their body hair, cellulite and acne—features that society deems unappealing. (It’s also important to remember that natural features are neither ugly nor trends. The ugly beauty trend is just one of the catalysts.)
What ugly beauty shouldn’t be
If Benefit does use the “you’re ugly” narrative once again, it perpetuates the idea that you have to look a certain way to be considered beautiful. Of course, they’re not the first brand to do that. Whitening and anti-acne brands are infamous for shaming people’s appearances to sell their products.
Ultimately, people have the choice to do whatever they want with how they look. They can opt not to wear makeup or shape their brows, but that doesn’t make them less beautiful. Beauty brands don’t have to keep calling their customers “ugly” to sell. They should instead empower women (and men) in choosing what works best for them and putting the makeup on when they want to.
Photo courtesy of Unsplash
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