Guest Blogger

International Women's Day Co-Opted by Cosmetics Industry

Filed By Guest Blogger | March 08, 2012 6:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: body shaming, gender stereotypes, International Women's Day, needs of women, red lipstick, rock the lips

Editors' Note: Nicole Kristal is the author of The Bisexual's Guide to the Universe: Quips, Tips and Lists for Those Who Go Both Ways. Her work has appeared in Newsweek, Back Stage,, and Premiere magazine.

International Women's Day (March 8) has been celebrated across Europe since the early 20th century as a chance to highlight women's solidarity in their ongoing fight for equality both politically and economically with men. But if you ask the #Rock the Lips movement on Facebook what the day's about, you'll get quite a different message.


"Our goal is to get 1 million women to join us and turn our offices, streets, buses, cities, countries, and the world into a sea of power pouts to celebrate that Women Rock!" Yes, that's right. They're asking women everywhere to celebrate International Women's Day by wearing red lipstick.

"Let's make a statement.
Let's wear it loud.
Let's Rock the Lips. Because women rock."

To answer your question, no, this movement was not created by Paris Hilton. The creators of this movement have chosen to remain anonymous. Possibly because they're foolish enough to think liking something on Facebook is commensurate to activism but mostly because when they say, "Let's make a statement" they have no clue what statement they're actually making.

They're telling women to celebrate their womanhood and equal rights by supporting an industry that solely profits off of making women feel insecure and inadequate about their appearance, by telling women to make women's day sexy because they've fallen for the myth that being objectified is empowerment.

They're proving Ryan Gosling's character in "Crazy Stupid Love" right when he said, "The war between the sexes is done. We won. We won when women started pole dancing for exercise." The sad truth is there's now an entire generation who's drunk that Kool-Aid thinks that buying a $10 lipstick will make the world a better place and unite us in a feminine ideal and put those silly men in their places. A place where they can oogle us from afar and think, "I respect women cause women are hot." It's slut power, y'all!

And not slut power in a cool meta "SlutWalk" sort of way, but a let's-go-get-our-nails-done-in-our-high-heels-and-march-to-Hooters-knowing-that-because-we're-following-traditional-gender-norms, we-represent-women-everywhere. (The cockles of my heart are warming in a sense of belonging already!)

The Rock the Lips movement is embarrassingly American and insulting particularly to the plight of international women who struggle with poverty, AIDS, and rape as a fact of their daily lives -- women who have never owned makeup or new clothes, who get acid thrown on them because their husbands want a new wife or are stoned to death for being suspected of cheating. The Rock the Lips movement is born of a group of apolitical women ignorant enough to think the women's movement is the same as the beauty movement. Cause, like, isn't that what being a woman is all about? Being fuckable? Besides, the women's movement is so passé, so "our moms'" generation. It's not, like, actually still needed.

But if so, where were these women's lips in late February when Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) asked an all male panel of clerics protesting whether contraception should be provided by under the Obama Administration's Affordable Care Act, "Where are the women?" Where were they when Rush Limbaugh called Georgetown University student Sandra Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute"? Doing their makeup?

My friend posted on the Rock the Lips Facebook page a suggestion that women use the $10 they would have used to buy lipstick and instead donate that money to a women's cause instead. Her post was removed from the page within minutes.

Among the "likes and interests" listed on the Rock the Lips page are "Sephora," "MAC Cosmetics," "stila cosmetics," "CARGO Cosmetics," and "NARS Cosmetics." Which leads me to speculate that the entire "movement" is a fabrication created by numerous cosmetics companies and that we've been hoodwinked again by social media marketing, pegged to a holiday. Regardless, 3,379 people fell for their "message" and agreed to participate on March 8, and many sent in photos of themselves wearing red lipstick. And that's enough to prove we women have a helluva lot more work to do.

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