Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Sexism in the Dermablend Professional Ad Campaign

There's a dark backdrop, a question presented, "how do you judge a book?", and a serious man in a plain, gray t-shirt sitting down in front of the camera. He's got a few piercing and a stoic expression, but he looks like any guy you might see down the street. This first impression the viewer makes is quickly destroyed as, before the viewer's eyes, it's shown that the man is covered head to toe in Dermablend concealer. He has dark, intense tattoos that, just a moment ago, were impossible to see. We see a final clip of the guy before cutting to the products and the phrase, "Go Beyond the Cover". Well, this is a different makeup ad, but one that unfortunately still indulges in sexism.

I would first like to point out that this makeup, of course, is not your typical drug store product. The Dermablend Professional is for mostly covering up tattoos or other parts of the body that typical concealer would fail at hiding. Rick Genest, the tattooed man, is a model and friend of Lady Gaga and, as the ad demonstrates, his mere disappearance of his tattoos are an endorsement within itself. Along with this, it's important to note that this product is being sold for a more specific demographic rather than a Covergirl ad. While makeup is a product to remedy insecurities, the Dermablend Professional concealers are meant to target people who would otherwise feel alienated or judged for either their tattoos or appearance.

My response to the ad is a mix of impressed surprise at the concealer's ability and curiosity as to how a woman would've been portrayed in the same ad. Imagine if they chose someone who was covered in tattoos and looked straight at the camera with the same unforgiving look. The only ads that feature women in this campaign are "Camo Confessions", which are brief videos that are shot and produced to create an intimate and vulnerable confession with several pretty ladies. They have insecurities over their appearances, but overcome it with the Dermablend products. Rick Genest also does a Camo Confession, as well, but it's focused on more of a story of how the tattoos have allowed him to express who he is in the world. The differences in just the gender of the person seems to wildly change what the ad campaign is about.

For the ladies, it appears that -since they are seemingly tarnished beauties- women are not allowed to see their differences as ways to express their individuality as Rick Genest can. While he has tattoos, there are no women that have tattoos. The stigma of being a woman sporting a tattoo typically unleashes a wave of suspicion of promiscuity, irresponsibility, and the idea that a woman is no longer "lady-like". While Rick Genest has obviously felt judgement for his appearance, it's an odd contradictory for not featuring a woman with a similar appearance and similar message of judging a book by it's cover. Though it's nice to see an ad that wants to empower both the men and women, it's disappointing to not see equal representation of the demographic that would use the products.

Women are judged immediately with superficial expectations. They are expected to have the big lashes, clear skin, and white teeth that demonstrate biological perfection. When a woman contradicts that idea and, like Rick Genest, is unapologetic for their unorthodox appearance, they are shut down and trivialized. It's not to say the videos about the woman with the severe acne aren't important to note, but the ladies with tattoos and piercings are no longer given a moment to shine like their male counterpart. He's able to be applauded for his endorsement of the ad, but it would be unlikely that the same response would be given for a woman. God forbid, she provided no justification for her appearance choices at Rick Genest does.

Rick Genest Ad: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9mIBKifOOQQ
Rick Genest Camo Confession:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ngyHy2HPx3k
Cheri's Camo Confession: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yBKr4uxXRi0