Sex for women is sold as a set of fashion and design items. As our culture becomes increasingly sexualized, sexual discourse becomes more visible. As Janice Winship, author of Inside Women’s Magazines notes, this sexualization has frequently tended to operate through forms of ‘in-your-face advertising’ aimed at affluent young women (Winship, 2000). Sometimes it seems like, when sex is associated with something of high value, it has the tendency to soften people’s negative attitudes towards “said” matter. Interestingly enough, the sexual economics theory concludes that “women react more favorably to sexual images when they are used to promote an expensive, rather than a cheap product (Baumeister & Vohs, 2004). With that being said, marketers will use that knowledge (consciously/subconsciously) to appeal to its target audience.
For example- one day I decided to take a trip to Sephora, and once I finished touching up my eyeliner, I couldn’t help but notice the edginess used in the labeling of so many of the products. Once I established the trend, it was like the echoes of female scandal and rebellion were creating a new culture of their own.
Let’s break down this down:
First, we have the brand Urban Decay. If you didn’t know, real-life urban decay refers to the deterioration of a city, due to age and lack of industrial support. Second, One of Urban Decay’s claims to fame is its Naked palette.
The Naked palette is one of the most purchased palettes in cosmetics history. In fact, one was sold every six seconds in 2015. In addition, it scored Duchess Kate’s stamp of approval and it was even dubbed “the iPhone of makeup” by Forbes (Rollings, 2016).
Some of its a shadow names are Virgin, Sin, Bootycall, and Tease so I’m sure it didn’t take too much searching, for any of these names to catch consumers attention. In my view, the success of this product, is a testament to how much women are starting to care less about aligning themselves with the status-quo.
Also, Urban Decay has a line called Vice lipstick. If the name Vice Lipstick didn’t bring any ideas to mind, then I’m sure the shade names probably will. To list a few, one can purchase shades such as Safe-word, Notorious, Carnal, and Whip. Are you surprised, yet?
Another popular cosmetic brand is called Two-Faced and one of its best-selling products is the Better Than Sex mascara. The brush was inspired by the curves of a woman’s body, which is why it is shaped like an hourglass figure.
The third cosmetic brand that stood out to me was NARS. NARS’ best seller is its Orgasm Collection and I think the video advertisement above is self-explanatory.
Whether you agree with it or not, I find it interesting how the cosmetics industry plays with this concept of deviance. The liberal feminist approach challenges our societies traditional attitudes pertaining to men and women’s roles in society.
This approach theorizes that female deviance arises from gender discrimination (Simpson, 1989). It is more socially acceptable for a man to exhibit crude behavior than it is for a woman. Women are told to “act like a lady,” and behave with class. However, the marketing of makeup products and the success of various cosmetics brands is a really good indicator that the times are changing.