Are. You. Kidding. Me.

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?

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2 thoughts on “Are. You. Kidding. Me.

  1. Nope. It’s not what she stands for. At least, it’s not what she stands for now. I, too, have watched the shift for Wonder Woman into a much, much more bad-ass character with thoughts – and fights – all her own.

    I’m not stoked about the t.v. show. It sounds kind of “Smallville” abysmal. And clearly lots of folks love Smallville – 10 seasons!?! – so, what do I know.

    But I think you hit the nail on the head. “Ugly=Bad. Pretty=Good.” Oh, and by the way, our definition of pretty.

    (full disclosure – I *like* pretty. don’t get me wrong. Still, crappy message.)

  2. I’m with ^Ian on this: cosmetics are very far from what Wonder Woman stands for. I’m sure that the world is constantly in struggle, the pendulum swings back and forth, actionary and reactionary to the world, towards freedom and equality and back towards the “traditional” world of suppression.

    Products like this certainly do normalize the suppressive nature, but consider that this is building on the character. The more publicity the “traditional” world is going to lend this new hero, the more people will be aware, and talking, and _receptive_ to the positive, less normalizing moments of the upcoming series.

    Like you say “you don’t see her whipping out her compact in the middle of a fight and crying, “OMG, I smudged my mascara!”” and Thank Goodness for that. Just because they want to turn her into something beautiful doesn’t mean that she will turn into that, she is a symbol of strength and beauty that comes from being confident that you are who you are meant to be and you’re doing the right. Each time they try to pull the wool over someone’s eyes, aren’t they doing themselves harm by giving YOU opportunities to write things like this? Sheesh. Keep up the good work.

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