Yesterday, Olay launched their newest beauty marketing campaign yesterday. It's called "Your Best Beautiful," and it's the latest in a string of wannabe-viral, vaguely inspirational marketing videos targeted at at women. Naturally, given how these beauty campaigns have manipulated our hearts, souls, and complexions in the past, I clicked Play with a bit of trepidation.
Set to a feel-good soundtrack that croons "I am a warrior," the short film features a bunch of glowy-faced women singing into their hairbrush, playing with their tulle skirts, trying on strappy sandals, and adjusting their pearls. Their apartments are quirky, bright, and clean. Their skin is flawless. They're smiling nonstop — except when they're blowing kisses at their reflections.
As they twirl, the narrator recites, "Every day a woman looks at herself in the mirror ten times. You look to see what's changed. You look to see what hasn't. You want to see the best version of you — your best beautiful. If beauty is skin deep, then you want deeper skin." Olay's caption, beneath the video, reads, "At Olay, we believe each day is a chance for you to be your best self." And the narrator croons on: "More radiant. Younger. More beautiful."
Accompanying the video are six 7-second clips termed "affirmations," wherein each actress tells us her skincare goals:
Affirmation 1: "I will look like I did the first day we met."
Affirmation 2: "I will make every carpet a red one."
Affirmation 3: "I will laugh without lines."
Affirmation 4: "I'll look like I got my beauty sleep even if I'm up all night."
Affirmation 5: "I want to be nominated for best skin ever."
Affirmation 6: "I want to have skin like a royal."
The ad campaign isn't directly co-opting the lingo of feminism like the Pantene ad did (Pantene is also owned by Proctor & Gamble, FYI). It's just straight-up delusional.
This may be difficult to hear, ladies, but if your goal is to look younger EVERY TIME YOU LOOK IN THE MIRROR, there is no product in the world other than Elixir de Benjamin Button that will help you out. You want to look like you did the first day you met your significant other — ten years from now?! You will need to find a time machine. Not sure where. Maybe on eBay. You want skin like Kate Middleton, who some speculate spends upwards of $30,000 a year on beauty products alone? You will need a serious raise. You want to laugh without lines? You will need to become a robot with a realistic laugh track.
Ads like these don't even try for a realistic message. They're so aspirational that they become science fiction. (No laugh lines. Younger every day. This is not how the science of the human face works.) They charm us with smiling models and enviable apartment decor and assume that we're all stupid enough to fall in line. Why can't they just have an ad that says "Skincare is stressful. Olay helps you look nicer." Why this constant, ridiculous hyperbole that is so prevalent when talking about female beauty? It's exhausting.
Do I want to be the best version of myself? Sure. If Olay made a cream that guaranteed I'd never have another bad skin day in my life, would I buy it? As long as it didn't kill me with some weird chemical, yeah. But do I want to be the type of woman whose goal in life is to simply never age? To look more and more beautiful every time I glance into the mirror, until I'm not human at all, but a glittering diamond of pore-less perfection? To be the type of woman whose every dollar and every waking thought is spent straining toward a wrinkle-free future?
Sounds like a terrible way to spend a life.