Far from being a wilting wallflower, the beauty industry is well known for pushing the boundaries and re-inventing the wheel at every given opportunity. From a half naked Miley Cyrus and Ricky Martin pushing lipstick, to using slightly embarrassing names you’d rather not ask for while shopping with your Nan, makeup brands don’t shy away from creating controversy – but when does it go too far? This week a red lipgloss titled ‘Underage Red’ was launched, and pulled, from Sephora stores across the US; part of a collection with celebrity and tattoo artist Kat Von D (a controversial character herself, who’s probably more well known for having an affair with Sandra Bullock’s husband,) it’s not the first time her makeup line has come under scrutiny. Back in 2013 a nude lipstick called ‘Celebutard’ was widely condemned and removed from sale after mothers of disabled children quite rightly took objection. She really should’ve known better. So when does an unusual name cross the boundaries from being cheeky and thought provoking, to just plain unacceptable?
In my opinion using the word ‘underage’ is not glamorous, sexy,
appealing or youthful; it has associations with abuse and child
sexualisation – it’s illegal. I don’t know what Kat Von D was thinking,
nor do I know how the product even made its way onto Sephora shop floors
across the United States, but this isn’t the first (and certainly won’t
be the last) time a makeup product has been slammed for it holding an inappropriate name. MAC have their own ‘Underage’ shade of nude
lipgloss, claiming that it embodies youth and innocence – but I don’t
know any woman that would like to re-capture being an awkward 15 year
old with no idea how to apply eyebrow pencil, nor any sense of self confidence. Youth is full of awkwardness and lack of experience, so I simply don’t understand the logic of calling any kind of makeup product ‘Underage’.
No stranger to controversy, in 2010 MAC were heavily criticised for their Rodarte collection;
calling a nail polish ‘Juarez’ after the impoverished Mexican factory
town best known for its lack of police intervention in the growing
number rapes and murders of women between the ages of 12 and 22? Yeah,
that’s appropriate. From Too Faced’s ‘Better Than Sex’ mascara, to the best selling Nars ‘Orgasm’ blush and Urban Decay ‘Gash’ eyeshadow, it seems that nothing is off limits. I vaguely see the appeal of a mascara that claims to be better than the act of fornication, or the blusher that will give you the look of (ahem) joy, but an eyeshadow colour called ‘Gash’? Please, give me strength.
I know I could do without another ‘Fushia’ or ‘Rose Pink’ lipstick, but surely there’s a way to be creative without being ridiculous? Rimmel always do a great job of creating fun names that make you smile, rather than making you gasp – from Love Bug and Cheeky Chap, to Sweet Retreat and Lose Your Lingerie, they’re cheeky without being obscene. Why do brands become so fixated on calling their products something controversial, rather than focusing on the quality of product or beautiful packaging that houses it? When was the last time you bought a nail varnish, lipstick or gloss because of the name rather than the shade? Can you identify the last time you picked your eyeshadow shade based on it’s sexually explicit description, rather than the fact it complemented your eye colour? Please brands, just stop it – it’s not big and it’s not clever, but it is rather silly.
What do you think about these controversial and explicit shade names that seem to be more and more prevalent in the beauty industry? I’d love to know your thoughts.
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