Brains or beauty?
Brains OR beauty?
Why can it never be brains AND beauty?
I am not a morning person. But after hitting snooze a few times and finally pulling myself out of bed, I still manage to put on some make up before heading to the lab to get a step closer to that Nobel prize winning discovery I am going to make – I hope anyway :P!
But I don’t feel that if I don’t put make up on, I’m going to have a bad science day, or that I’m going to make that discovery because I look good with my full face of slap on! Beauty and brains are not mutually exclusive and I choose BOTH!
But what is the issue? Why am I sharing this?
This is the problem.
‘Skip Class, Not Concealer’. This is the tag line that Benefit Cosmetics, a brand that I used to love and buy from, has opted for on a global ad campaign.
There has always been an ugly side to advertising but to imply that you have to choose between looking good and having an education is infuriating! I have slogged my ass off at school, throughout uni, in evening and extra classes and now at grad school to get the best out of my education that I can and have ALL the options! But for this campaign to imply that I can’t look beautiful doing it! AAARRRGGGHHH!
This slogan is a step too far! This ad for me is saying that if you don’t look beautiful, then don’t go to class! I am not normally one to get immersed in these sorts of issues but this one really struck a nerve and angered me. The amount of times at uni I turned up to lectures hungover or still with remnants of last nights fancy dress plastered across my face. I didn’t care what I looked like. The important thing was that I was there to press record on my dictaphone and learn something that eventually got me my First class honours degree, my Masters degree and hopefully soon my PhD.
I mean how can something like this firstly get chosen out of what was probably multiple ideas and then finally go through rounds and rounds of finalising without anyone at Benefit Cosmetics thinking ‘Is this really the message we want our brand to be known for?’. And then for someone from the company to come back and say it was meant to be taken in a ‘tongue and cheek’ way! I for one LOVE my comedy! I am often found at comedy gigs and think I have a good sense of humour. But I cannot understand from any angle how this ad could be perceived as funny in any way!
There are boys and girls around the world fighting for the chance to get an education and a global brand like Benefit is palming it off as if it is not a big deal. Well, Benefit you are wrong! An education is a HUGE deal and I for one am not going to sit back and let the world think otherwise! An education is important for me to be able to do the career I want to do to the best of my ability, and also so I can use my brain, call out and fight back against awful ads like this one!
During my PhD journey, I have been incredibly lucky to come across an amazing online community called The Stem Squad which is full of inspiration women working in science, technology, engineering and maths. It was one of these gals @Science.Sam who brought the issue to my attention and has since lead the fight back against this campaign by sharing their messages across social media using the hashtag #SkipBenefitNotClass.
Here are a selection of the messages found across social media:
But since, the social media campaign against the Benefit ad has grown to include entrepreneurs, doctors, mothers, nurses, lawyers and more so the number of people involved in this fight back is ever growing and it is not to late to post a selfie/blog/video with #SkipBenefitNotClass to state your case. For me, this is just showing that girls (and guys) that have brains AND beauty are a force to be reckoned with!
One of the reasons I started my blog and Instagram features was to break down the stereotypes associated with being a scientist. I for one will not give into these stereotypes and will not be silenced. I am so happy that SO many other guys and gals are standing up for what they believe in.
So most of this post as been a bit doom and gloom, so I wanted to finish by looking to the future and hoping that this won’t happen again.
Firstly, I want to make a shout out to L’Oréal who have a L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science programme which recognises the achievements and contributions of exceptional females across the globe, by awarding promising scientists with Fellowships to help further their research. A cosmetics brand that is empowering women to be role models in what is considered a ‘not conventionally female’ career path, so I want to say thank you. Check out the 2017 winners are here.
All companies can make an advertising mistake. I completely get that. But this is not the first Benefit campaign that has caused a stir. Now, unfortunately for whatever reason, Benefit do not look like they are going to pull the ad, as their Twitter account was reeling out the same reply to all displaying their outrage to the campaign.
Some stores have agreed to take down the adverts but Benefit Cosmetics are not taking any action to change their controversial campaign so far! Maybe it just needs a re-brand! And I even have the solution for you! Pitch it as ‘don’t skip class, wear this concealer instead’!
Of course it will need a catchier slogan as I’m not a marketing whizz! But if there was a concealer out there that could have hid my hungover eyes at the lectures I still attended at university, or there was a concealer out there that could hide my tired eyes after endless 12 hour+ days in the lab at grad school, I would buy it! Just pitching it the other way, to me, sends the complete opposite message! It would be a message of empowerment for whoever chooses to wear makeup for whatever reason, and show them that you can still look on point and work towards that exam, ace your degree or achieve whatever you want!
A simple solution right?
In a world where social media is taking over and younger generations are being influenced more and more by what they find on these platforms, cosmetics brand should be promoting their followers to make the best out of themselves. You have a global reach! Be a brand that send positive messages and encourage younger generations to go out and get everything they want to!
I will always be here standing, hopefully, as a role model to all young girls and showing that you can still be pretty and get somewhere in a male dominated field such as science! If science is what you love to do, you can do it and it doesn’t matter what you look like! And I’m not the only one. Instagram, for one, is full of truly incredible women in STEM who did not skip class and highlight their face as much as their study notes to get those 1 or 2 or even 3 degrees that are as real as those lashes!
I just want to remind girls, and guys, out there that you are so much more than your looks! I would 100% take class over concealer any day!
Being brainy AND beautiful is awesome!