15 Comments
Jan 10, 2023Liked by charlie squire

in new york it seems like every empty storefront now houses a cosmetic dermatologist or new wellness brand. the more these ideas are “normalized,” the harder it is to exist in a “normal” body. people forget– though companies do not– that by changing our definition of normal, we shift our overton window. i love how you put that. i pass these stores and briefly i consider their promises; i’ve begun to vocally disavow them each time i walk by, if for no other reason than to remind myself that the eternal quest for youth and beauty is neither sustainable nor “normal.”

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I am nowhere near new york but these thoughts and mindsets are so insidious! Love the last line, I wish you luck 💛

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Something has always rubbed me the wrong way about Botox being a feminist statement. A cousin of mine works in fillers and injections and she frames it as empowering, which I suppose in STRICTLY the sense that it is a choice to make or not make it is empowering, but it is feeding this toxic cycle of a system that encourages women to literally change themselves just for aesthetic reasons. Literally inject and chop themselves up. All to be society's definition of prettier. Thanks, I hate it.

Skincare can be a bit more nebulous, I feel--on the one hand, I use skincare products, I put on sunscreen and moisturize. It makes sense to take care of your skin. On the other...when the quest of skincare is framed as "antiaging," when the goal is not gracefully growing but FREEZING your young and beautiful self, that's sooo toxic, and I thank you for pointing it out.

As you said: 60 year old women at the grocery store are so beautiful. Maybe we all grow to be like them: living, breathing, interesting, and lovely in our own way. ✨

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author

totally agree! big fan of using sunscreen and good moisturizer <3

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i made a conscious choice to not wear make up as a teenager because i wanted to like myself as i am and not fixate on my appearance (i was insecure enough as is!) and i only feel increasingly alienated and pressured as everyone around me considers or actually gets cosmetic procedures and injections and it becomes more and more normalized. make up is nothing!! everyone would say. no matter if i liked myself better bare faced or felt uncomfortable being perceived as feminine, no one cared because me conforming to their idea of beauty was more important than how i felt.

i really try to feel at home w traditionally feminine stuff as an enby but by god do these interactions make me want to be masc forever and never attempt to be feminine ever again. i will never be feminine enough for them, i will never be pretty enough for them, so why bother, you know? it almost feels like im making a mockery of femininity by not trying hard enough.

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Feb 2, 2023Liked by charlie squire

You mentioned how you’ll leave philosophizing on beauty to other authors like Kafka. And i think that’s partially why it is difficult to discuss the beauty industry: we see these conversations as entirely separate, as if one has more legitimacy than the other. The only difference is Kafka gets the luxury of writing about these concepts without people mentioning personal vanity, or phrases like “this will bring other men down” ever entering the discussions of his work. We accept these fears and insecurities as universal to the human condition first and then engage with the topic and critique of the systems that exploit these fears from there.

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Jan 12, 2023Liked by charlie squire

So good!

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Jan 14, 2023Liked by charlie squire

yes yes yes! i love this whole paragraph: "It is taboo to critique the concepts of makeup, cosmetic surgery, anti-aging, because it is received as “shaming” others’ “choices”. Why does there have to be shame? ..." If you haven't already, i super recommend Jess DeFino's "Unpublishable" newsletter here on substack.

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Feb 4, 2023Liked by charlie squire

loved this, there's nothing subversive about Big Beauty repackaging beauty in a way that checks off all the boxes of pop feminism. it still tyrannizes women/feminine-presenting people by convincing them they're broken and their beauty is tied to their self-value - just under the guise of something more socially acceptable (self-care, wellness)

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Jan 18, 2023Liked by charlie squire

this was fun to read! reminded me of michelle lazar's writing "the right to be beautiful"

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author

sounds good--i'll have to check that out!!!

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Jan 14, 2023·edited Jan 14, 2023

Beauty is real and always has been in every human culture. Many insecurites are based on reality, not just generated by advertising. As long as you are reasonable, there is nothing wrong with seeking to change the things you don't like about yourself rather than just accepting them or pretending you are being brainwashed.

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This may be a little controversial but the very first assumption that these industries are “created to prey on insecurity” would take a lot to prove. Do they feed on, even FEAST on insecurities? Absolutely no doubt. But I don’t buy into original sin thinking so im not so sure they are created for that reason. I think they are created out of sheer desire...just a thought...

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Feb 5, 2023Liked by charlie squire

I think I would be more willing to see these as desires if it were easier to opt out of participating in beauty standards in the first place but they are inescapable and based in systems of oppression. A really good example is how skin lightening products are marketed to dark skin women. Do these women desire to have lighter skin out of a personal preference? Or is it because having lighter skin will make it easier for them to operate in a world that is actively hostile to them due to the color of their skin?

And the companies that create skin lightening products, and any beauty/wellness product in general, markets them the same way: if you buy what we sell, your life will be better. That could mean for one person “you will look and feel good, people will want you and you can use this to express yourself” and for another person “you won’t have to deal with the discrimination and hardship you deal with now, this will make your daily life and interactions easier because you will be closer to an ideal we advertise” and, naturally, to another person “you will be treated differently if you do not use our product, people are going to see you and reject you for your flaws, you cannot exist in certain spaces or attend certain occasions without us, you are the ‘before’ photo and we can make you the ‘after” and companies are marketing to all of them. And all of those feelings can exist in someone at the same time, because we all want to be beautiful, or at least we all feel the social pressure to be beautiful, even if we didn’t define that beauty on our terms.

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