We’ve been led to believe that self care equates to merely possessing an arsenal of expensive beauty products. Pretty photos of expensive things arranged just so can signify a new kind of status. We’ve been manipulated into believing that we can cocoon ourselves into plush, non-synthetic sweatpants (“home is where the bra isn’t”), apply hyaluronic acid and retinol creams, sip carrot juice, and suddenly all will become well. Even I, cynic-queen-supreme, have been sold the lie.
Consumerism has become the answer to all of our problems; and beauty products, containing both the false promise of eternal youth and a retail therapy price tag that is less expensive than a pair of shoes or a new bag, are the new kryptonite. We peruse websites like Into the Gloss, Violet Grey, and Goop when we’re feeling particularly soulless, and look to Instagrammers for glamorous “Top Shelfies” and macro shots of K-beauty products and Q-tips, only to dart off to Sephora, MAC, and Bluemercury on our lunch breaks to reinvigorate both ourselves and the economy.
I personally justify my beauty product purchases by telling myself that I can use whatever I buy for an art project; and in this way, the product’s practicality doubles. Not only does this Nars Single Eyeshadow in Matcha promise to uplevel my appearance, I tell myself, but it can add to my Instagram’s cache. I can knock out two birds with one stone!
The new dream jobs of Instagram Influencing and YouTube Makeup Artistry allow us to wrap ourselves into worlds where everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.
These new occupations require ample solitary work, posturing behind cameras and manipulating our makeup drawers, vanities, and the contents of our handbags to display a cleanliness and #oddlysatisfying sense of order that seldom exists in the real world.
And yet, even knowing that I am freely contributing to an exploitative $532-billion-dollar-a-year industry, I am rendered powerless when confronted by the forces of Diptyque candles lined up in a row (“But their jars are reusable,” I protest to my wallet) and manicured-fingers spraying bottles of Le Labo into the ether. These objects seem to glimpse into luxurious lifestyles that we’ve been conditioned to covet, and yet that are designed to be completely unattainable.
I continue to spend a good 15% of my paycheck on products that I absolutely don’t need. Yes, Cetaphil would probably suffice, but La Mer’s packaging is prettier. Sure, I could use Revlon, but Kat von D makes my lips look so much bigger a la Kylie…
In essence, a cry for help: I’m caught up in the matrix, and yet I love the matrix… Suggestions?