Beauty Redefined Blog

9 Reasons to Ignore Every Mascara Ad Ever and Embrace Your Own Eyelashes

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When we see this mascara ad (one of HUNDREDS just like it in any media directed at women), we have a few thoughts:mascara beauty redefined post

1. Natural extension-free, insert-free eyelashes on women are unbelievably rare in all media today, and it has exerted some serious pressure on girls and women to keep up with that normalized new standard. Eyelash-related products and services are being sold at record rates. Before you dismiss this stuff as petty, consider that this is an example of one single beauty ideal (among hundreds) that has evolved to become inescapable and unquestioned. We LOVE to question these things.

2. Like the sticky note says, this ad has been altered to sell many unreal ideals, and the most egregious is the LIE so many of us are buying that any mascara can make your lashes look like this! Even this magic mascara can’t create the look in this very ad! Need proof? See the disclaimer in the bottom left: “Simulation of product. Results on the lashes enhanced by lash inserts.” In other words, “This is all a lie. But we hope you don’t read this tiny print.”

3. Why is “LOOK-AT-ME” always the goal if you’re female? We hate that becoming an ornament to be looked at is not only the unspoken message of most advertising directed at women (for beauty products and everything else), but is often also the literal, verbalized message, like it is here. Your body is an instrument to be used for your benefit, not an ornament for others’ viewing pleasure. Thinking about what you look like a lot of the time, even while you should be concentrating on other things, is called self-objectification and it’s not a good thing. Learn how to recognize it here.

4. No one ever ever ever talks about men’s eyelashes or sells men anything to do with their eyelashes or asks men to think about what their eyelashes are lacking. Male and female eyelashes serve the same functions and are created equal. Just like men, you don’t need to dye, extend, amplify, paint, or modify your eyelashes in any way. You don’t. Yes, we’re living in a world where natural eyelashes are becoming a rare sight in media (and unfortunately in the world around us too), but that does not mean your natural lashes are any less awesome or fulfill their intended function any less perfectly. When we flip the script and see how unbelievably gendered the expectations of eyelashes are, we get a much-needed reality check.

5. We are not throwing shade on anyone with lash extensions, expensive potions, mascaras, procedures or prescriptions. We get it. Long, dark, thick lashes look fab. But we gotta talk about the reasons so many women feel so compelled to spend their money and time on those potions and procedures. And why zero men do. And why ads like this target us at every turn. And how much money these companies are making off of our desire to look like these unreal images. (Hint: it’s in the billions.)

6. Own your reality. Own it and rock it and show other people it’s OK to feel good about their own realities — long, thick, dark lashes or short, thin, light ones or whatever. We all need them to protect our amazing eyeballs. When you accept and feel OK about whatever you’re working with, it gives others permission to accept and feel OK about whatever they’re working with too. And that simple example can be life-changing.

7. Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline. OR MAYBE it’s Maybelline plus lash inserts, plus Photoshop, plus an objectifying culture that teaches us our appearances define our worth that gives this ad its power.

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8. I’m rebelling against this endless eyelash pressure by boycotting mascara today. And maybe tomorrow. Don’t get me wrong — I love me some mascara, but what I love more is my self-worth not being determined by the products I smear on my face. If you feel less “you” when you’re not wearing certain cosmetics or lash extensions, or you use certain products and services out of fear of what others will think if you *don’t*, I challenge you to try TRY try to wean yourself off of them. It is liberating to stop depending on that stuff. Prove to yourself that you are more than a body and your reflection doesn’t define your worth by foregoing the beauty efforts and expense you think you need. You don’t need makeup or extensions to make you any more acceptable and valuable or any more YOU.

9. If people ask you if you’re “sick” or “tired” or “OK?” when you’re not wearing makeup, we have to learn to blame the system that has created the made-up, unnatural ideals we now see and accept as the default of normal and healthy. Wear those questions as a badge of honor for pushing back against the pressures that make our regular, natural faces unacceptable and strange while painted, modified faces go unquestioned. You could even be honest and say that out loud when someone offers a comment or question about your less made-up or naked face — tell them this is just your natural face and the alternative is actually your altered face. If the person is cool, tell them you’re working to be more comfortable with yourself minus alterations. There is no shame in this game!

Need more help developing body image resilience that can help you overcome your self-consciousness and be more powerful than ever before? Learn how to recognize harmful ideals, redefine beauty and health, and resist what holds you back from happiness, health, and real empowerment with the Beauty Redefined Body Image Program for girls and women 14+. It is an online, anonymous therapeutic tool that can change your life, designed by Lexie & Lindsay Kite, with PhDs in body image and media.

For more about the Beauty Redefined Foundation and the work Lindsay and Lexie do to promote positive body image, check out our short intro video below, and don’t forget to subscribe to our new YouTube channel! 

  1. Grackle
    Grackle01-13-2015

    Thank you very much for this post. I have serious insecurity about my eyelashes. They’re reasonably long and thick but they’re also very light-coloured, so I’m fairly sure they don’t show much unless I wear mascara. That said, I almost never do because I don’t think I should have to. It doesn’t really make me feel more confident about it, though.

    My insecurity about this seemingly trivial thing is very obviously a result of social conditioning (just like everybody else’s, really.) In cartoons, only the female characters have eyelashes and all the actual live women I saw had theirs enhanced, and as a result I spent part of my childhood totally unaware that men have them too. It wasn’t until my father picked me up one day and I got close enough to his face to see his that I figured things out, and I still remember that it completely blew my mind!

    • Daniela Fonto
      Daniela Fonto04-07-2015

      This article nails it! I only wear makeup on special occasions, like nights out or big celebration-type lunches etc. I only wear makeup when I want to or need to, basically. I would feel silly wearing makeup every time I left the house. I also think it would be a waste of products. People can do as they please, this is how I feel. By the way, Maybelline test on animals, so don’t buy their stuff anyway!

    • Kiboko
      Kiboko04-08-2015

      My bottom lashes are so blonde, they’re invisible to the naked eye. I don’t care. In fact I give precisely zero f*cks. I don’t wear make up any more and no one noticed when I stopped. I can honestly say, no one asked if I was tired or sick and no one looked at my face or my lashes. If they did or they had the nerve to say anything, it wouldn’t make any difference because it would be THEIR problem. I’ve saved money and time by not wearing make up. I still go out to restaurants, pubs, and the theatre with no make up and I have a great time. It’s social conditioning because no one else really cares and you shouldn’t either. Your lashes are fantastic. They protect your eyes from damage. I used to believe the world needed to be protected from my un-made up face. But it’s a lie. I wish I’d realised this years ago as not wearing foundation has really helped with my eczema. I just don’t have anything negative to say about not wearing make up. If you do wear it, it should be for you and no one else.

  2. Nazmul
    Nazmul01-20-2015

    Nice post.

  3. Rebekah Jaunty
    Rebekah Jaunty01-24-2015

    Thanks, ladies! I appreciate this post. As someone who’s been trying to come to terms with her own fine blonde lashes, here’s my advice:

    1) If you’re nervous about quitting mascara cold turkey, try weaning yourself off by using tinted eyebrow gel or clear mascara instead.

    2) Watch period pieces; if the movie’s set in the distant past, the makeup artists have found ways to makeup the actresses with much more subtle makeup than we see in modern settings. In a movie, at least you know the men are wearing makeup too!

  4. Kiss & Make-up
    Kiss & Make-up01-25-2015

    I really find it ridiculous the amount of photoshopping that happens in beauty ads today. They really are selling lies! Way to disappoint your customers…

  5. Christina
    Christina01-25-2015

    I follow you on FB, repost & share. My 15 yr old daughter & I talk a lot about photoshop and when she looks at a magazine cover and starts telling me how beautiful so-and-so is, usually a Kardashian, we end the conversation laughing about the ridiculous altered images. But wow….how did I buy into this one? As if a $10 tube of black gooey stuff that I wipe on my lashes will make all the difference, add the final touch? Thanks for the genuine “eye opener”, ladies!

  6. Kiboko
    Kiboko04-08-2015

    My bottom lashes are so blonde, they’re invisible to the naked eye. I don’t care. In fact I give precisely zero f*cks. I don’t wear make up any more and no one noticed when I stopped. I can honestly say, no one asked if I was tired or sick and no one looked at my face or my lashes. If they did or they had the nerve to say anything, it wouldn’t make any difference because it would be THEIR problem. I’ve saved money and time by not wearing make up. I still go out to restaurants, pubs, and the theatre with no make up and I have a great time. It’s social conditioning because no one else really cares and you shouldn’t either. Your lashes are fantastic. They protect your eyes from damage. I used to believe the world needed to be protected from my un-made up face. But it’s a lie. I wish I’d realised this years ago as not wearing foundation has really helped with my eczema. I just don’t have anything negative to say about not wearing make up. If you do wear it, it should be for you and no one else.

  7. Sara
    Sara04-12-2015

    This article is perfection. It is exactly how I feel about make-up ads in general.

    The idea of women having to be perfect and hide every little flaw including something as minuscule as eyelash length is laughable to me.

    I am a woman who rejects these ideals, and stand by you two. You girls go, and continue to be my voice and an advocate of how I feel about self-objectification and the media, culture, and peers that cause it.

  8. Le fil d'Ariane
    Le fil d'Ariane09-03-2015

    Wonderfully said. I’m 21 and I’ve only begun concerning myself with make-up recently – not that I use any, even on important occasions, I just notice how many women around me have it vs how many don’t. Some days, looking at other women I feel that my mother and I are the only one who go without, and to be honest I was starting to wonder if wearing make-up every day is an essential part of womanhood that I’m somehow missing. But it’s not! I knew it and you put the right words on that feeling! (unlike me, whose grasp on the English language is slipping away pretty fast)

    Besides, even if putting on make-up is only a matter of minutes, and even if I felt any incentive to do it, I’d still prefer to use this time to decipher old love letters, have a solid breakfast or whatever nonsense I usually do in the morning. And a few minutes per day means a lot over the course of a year!

  9. Elizabeth
    Elizabeth08-29-2016

    As a natural blonde with fine, pale eyelashes I was brainwashed into thinking I need to wear mascara every day. Then a few years ago I developed a serious eye infection and had to stop wearing all makeup immediately. At first I was terrified! But today, I am very happy to be free of that compulsion and feel great not wearing any mascara at all. I do wear a bit of eyebrow pencil, because I still feel uncomfortable with virtually no visible eyebrows at all. And sometimes some lip gloss. I also put a bit of concealer over the scars I received in a car accident long ago. But in comparison with what I used to put on – in a ritual which took me 15 minutes every morning plus continual anxious inspections and touchups in the day – I feel very liberated. I look fine as I am, and I’m grateful to this website for bringing other women’s attention to the pressures we’re under to conform to a really unnatural ideal.