Beauty or just bad taste? Have brands crossed the line?
This is a piece of writing I wrote for A level English language coursework. I wanted to put it onto my blog as I felt I wanted to almost open a discussion about whether people agree with this text or not. I'd be really interested in finding out about what people think regarding this topic. Thank you in advance. Son x
Nowadays sex seems to be everywhere. People are no longer shocked at seeing a virtually naked woman on the side of a bus or billboard, everyone discusses sex and people have appeared to become immune to taboo language.
As an all-round beauty fanatic myself, I have thoroughly delved into the ever-expanding world of make up products and associated paraphernalia. The one thing that never fails to shock me: the continual release of new make-up products with cringe-worthy, sexualised names.
The beauty industry is already seen by many as superficial and materialistic. Why then would the product creators want to feed further into this reputation by naming products with overt euphemisms, negative stereotyping of women’s attributes and the attempt at satire through puns and wordplay. “Glow job” the name of a highlighter sold by the brand Soap and Glory, targeted at Pre-teens will be found stocked at your local Boots, accompanied on its shelf with the lip-gloss “Sexy Mother Pucker”. Yes, an attempt at creating a humorous tone, but really?! In my opinion, neither humorous nor empowering, in fact just highly awkward.
I’d like to believe that I’m no prude and a good old punny product name makes me chuckle just as much as the next person. “Taupe-less Beach” and “Don’t pretzel my buttons” are two of my favourites. These are neither distasteful nor offensive.
In this ever expanding world of beauty, it’s expected that brands endeavour to leave their mark, creating innovative products that will evoke attention and potentially stick in the consumer’s mind. This entails the need for witty names in order to stand out from the rest of the bunch. I think we are all in agreement that the plethora of nude lipsticks titled “Light Pink” give us no excitement. However, if the quality of the mascara really is “Better Than Sex” the product should speak for itself, grabbing and drawing in consumers through its intended use and not its euphemistic choice of name.
When a make-up product is sought after for its controversial, ideological name rather than the quality of the formula itself, should that not be when the consumer market and company owners collectively say, enough.
The term “sex sells” seems highly appropriate after taking into account the title of bestselling mascara “Better than Sex”. Now, I could see why a person could be tempted by a mascara claiming to make your lashes look better than the act of fornication. But imagine how horrified you would be as a parent having your 12-year-old daughter asking whether she could have “this beautiful blush called Deep Throat” for her birthday!
“Underage Red”, a lipstick that has seen tremendous scrutiny this past year, its connotations not being sexy, alluring or glamourous but insinuating child sexualisation. People are even arguing that the name promotes statutory rape and paedophilia. If I saw this product in the shops, no matter how amazing the formula, colour or packaging is, there is no way I would be volunteering my money to a brand so incredibly inconsiderate in their choice of language. Company owner, Kat Von D attempted to defend her name choice with an explanation about teenage feminine rebellion and her 16-year-old self's first love affair with lipstick. To me, this just sounds like a sad excuse that very few are going to buy into.
A brand with an abundance of product names to make you recoil in embarrassment is Urban Decay. In my opinion one of their most disturbing and looney names is “Lube in a tube”. Why? Have I missed the memo? Why would anyone want to smother a Durex substitute or doctor’s utensil onto their lips, I certainly wouldn’t! Should there be an imaginary moral line outside of which brands should be shunned for their inappropriate linguistic choices? In my opinion; yes.
Multi-millionaire and make up brand owner Charles Revlon once said: “In the factory we make cosmetics; in the store we sell hope”. So, what exactly is the cosmetic industry selling? Shimmering and seductive promises of being better in bed – or at least a desperate stab at looking as though one would be?
Ending on a more positive note… The beauty industry definitely has its fair share of incredibly ingenious product “namers”. My all time favourite brand for their hilariously pun filled nail polish labels has got to be OPI. “Berlin there done that”, “How great is your dane?” “Tickle my France-y”, “yoga-ta get this blue”. Why can’t brands take this kind of inoffensive humour as an example and steer clear away from derogatory sexualised terms?