While skimming through Allure magazine, I came across a poll taken by the makeup brand L’oreal Paris. Under the picture of a new variety of lipsticks it stated that “75% of women believe that wearing lipstick improves their confidence.” How convenient that the same brand that is selling lipstick is also promoting the social “benefits” of wearing their product. I’m not opposed to wearing lipstick and the big picture of three glorious lipstick colors did catch my eye at first. What is problematic is the statement that lipstick gives a woman confidence. What this notion does is give women the idea that lipstick, fashion, losing weight or whatever else is on the front cover of these magazines defines the normative femininity.
With headlines like “Cure dark circles” these entertainment magazines create a form of “self-policing” as well as place certain individual responsibilities as a means to present oneself as a “good citizen” (471 Oulette and Hay). In this type of environment, if a woman has dark circles the blame for looking tired and sleepless is on her.
Still flipping through the pages of the magazine, I reached a page titled “Vicious Circles”. Tired of hearing how others interpreted her dark under eye shadows; the author heavily relied on concealers. With comments like “Rough night”, “Have you tried Ambien” or my favorite “Smile-it can’t be that bad”, all suggested that there was something wrong with her and diagnosed her with insomnia. Dark circles are a human condition and can be hereditary, but I guess some people might forget this with the fully make-uped and often photo shopped faces displayed on every page of the magazine. You are drawn in by the advice bubbles on how to reduce your dark circles so as to appear energized and happy. Quick fixes such as taking an antihistamine if your allergies bring on dark circles become part of your daily routine to keep up with this identity. You so don’t want to be diagnosed with insomnia or depression by your peers and are encouraged to utilize what society has to offer you via over the counter drugs, make-up or even surgery.
This critiquing of the self and others in society is even more potent among people labeled as “addicts”. Interventions, reality shows and make-over TV are also modes of governmentality that lecture us on being self-sufficient citizens through health discourse to encourage productive citizenship (103 Daniels). An addict is usually described as someone who looks tired, pale, unmanaged and like they don’t care about their appearance. These arbitrary characteristics of an addict become the way in which society spots out addicts begins a trend of discrimination based on looks. With shows like Intervention on A&E and other culture industry resources reinforcing the portrayal of an addict, this becomes a form of discourse that we use to understand the body and the self. The identity of self becomes based on an imaginary norm and people who are deviant from that norm are not accepted as productive citizens.