If you have any interest in the beauty/skincare world and spend any time on the internet you’ve seen this article .
The author, Krithika Varagur (who seems to be a fellow Indian girl) states “skin has withstood millions of years of evolution without the aid of tinctures and balms,” and serious “regimens” are completely useless.
“But all of this is a scam. It has to be,” she goes on to say “Perfect skin is unattainable because it doesn’t exist. The idea that we should both have it and want it is a waste of our time and money. Especially for women, who are disproportionately taxed by both the ideal of perfect skin and its material pursuit.”
If you know me, you know that I am an absolute skincare fiend. I love reading articles about the latest peels and potions, my skincare collection may be the most valuable thing I own, and the closest thing I have to religion is my nightly skin care regimen. So I had a lot of thoughts about this piece.
I actually agree with Varagur on some levels. The way that skincare is marketed, the level of perfection we’re pursuing is definitely indicative of oppressive beauty standards. As women we are conditioned to want to be flawless, ageless, just glass smooth (preferably white) skin. Moreover, the rabbit hole of endless Sephora purchases goes deep. Those strict beauty standards are strengthened and financed by a capitalist system that urges us on to always want more. We are continually inundated with the newest serums and treatments, the endless push to continually consume.
So yes, let’s be critical of the messaging behind skincare products. But at the same time, I’m really tired of things that are more traditionally enjoyed by femme identifying people constantly criticized. Not everything women do has to have some revolutionary feminist praxis to it. There are tons of articles out there critiquing women for wearing makeup, getting their nails done, and a dozen other things. It’s possible for women to understand and be critical of why she might enjoy something that the patriarchy has thrust upon her, but can we also just let women enjoy things?
It’s interesting to me that we’re never as critical of male associated things that are buy ins of the cishetero, capitalist patriarchy. Where are all the articles on how betting on sports teams are a scam? Or how men’s fitness magazine are just perpetuating unrealistic body types? Or how men with less impressive facial structure should grow beards because it’s basically contouring for men?
Let’s get one thing straight: there’s no ethical consumption under capitalism. Unless you are somehow a subsistence farmer living off the grid, making everything you consume and living a zero waste life, you will be able to find moral flaws with your lifestyle. That’s kind of how economic hegemony works. But we always hold marginalized people to higher standards. We judge poor people for having nice things, for how women spend their money, for trans people being a drain on national resources. Glass houses, am I right?
If a women or femme person wants to have a 15 step skincare routine, LET THEM. If that skincare routine helps that person relax, helps them feel more comfortable in their own skin, or maybe is just an enjoyable routine for them, it’s worth it. Skin care is not revolutionary, makeup is not revolutionary, but no one ever thought it was. You know what is revolutionary? Allowing women to enjoy things that bring them happiness in peace.
p.s: hmu for skincare recommendations