I was at the mall a couple of days ago and happened to see a new line of MAC cosmetics, featuring a very familiar face:
Did the cosmetics look good? Yes, and the packaging was no less than retro-adorable. Did I want to buy them? Yes yes yes…but the advertising and the whole idea of a Wonder Woman cosmetics line itself is just throwing me off.
First of all, Wonder Woman is a hegemonically beautiful woman, i.e., beautiful according to our society’s expectations–Caucasian, tall, feminine, unattainable hourglass figure, you get the idea. But recently, Wonder Woman has also come into her own as a woman of strength, intelligence, valor and independence–you don’t see her whipping out her compact in the middle of a fight and crying, “OMG, I smudged my mascara!” Wonder Woman is a warrior and you’d better not piss her off; she’s as strong as Superman and as smart as Batman, and she can save the world blindfolded.
But what do we see here? Wonder Woman reaching towards a shining light full of compacts, lipstick and other cosmetics after defeating Medusa, probably the most repulsive villainess you can think of.
So, what’s the advertising telling us and our girls? That if you don’t look like Wonder Woman, you’ll look like Medusa? That looking like Wonder Woman is even possible? That her status as a respected, honored icon can be achieved not by strength, intelligence or valor, but by wearing cosmetics?
You might be saying, “relax! It’s just makeup with a Wonder Woman label! It’s a marketing ploy by DC Comics and MAC, probably to boost excitement about her upcoming TV series!”
Yes, yes it probably is. And I don’t want to be the chick who always complains about this stuff. The makeup is cute. Super-cute. I really want to buy it, I’ll admit. But at the same time–is this really what Wonder Woman stands for?