Benefit cosmetics fails girls

Benefit’s new ad is a failure

A UK based skin care company is encouraging young girls to skip school and prioritise make up at the expense of their education. Benefit Cosmetics have been slammed by consumers for their slogan 'skip class not concealer'. The poster depicts a teenage girl lying in her bed holding an alarm clock and looking sleepy, with what appears to be a pile of books and a teacher standing next to her, cheering her on to ditch her education for makeup application.

Essentially, Benefit Cosmetics appears to be telling young women and girls to value their appearance over their education, suggesting young women are only valued by their beauty. 

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Numerous angry consumers have reached out to Benefit on social media, appealing to the make-up brand to reconsider their campaign.  

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Sarah Champion, Member of Parliament for Rotherham, has also reached out to the brand condemning Benefit for encouraging such a sexist and damaging message. 

She writes, “I was extremely disappointed that Benefit considered this to be an appropriate message for your brand. This suggestion that young women and girls should prioritise appearance over education is potentially hugely damaging”

Benefit responded to Champion by stating that “…there was NEVER any desire to discourage women and girls of any age to choose makeup over education… we were totally confident that our customers everywhere would know that this message was totally ‘tongue in cheek’…”    

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Girls are already struggling with body image pressures

Benefit fails to understand that their campaign is directed at school girls who are at a vulnerable age and already feel pressured to fit stereotypes of beauty. Even though Benefit might not be intentionally marketing towards girls under the age of 16, the reality is that research indicates makeup is becoming increasingly popular for girls as young as 8.  

A study conducted by The Renfrew Center Foundation, a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to prevention of eating disorders, surveyed 572 young girls between the age ages of 8-18. They found almost 3 in 5 girls admitted to wearing makeup; and of the girls who wear makeup, two-thirds (67%) started between the ages of 8 and 13.

Despite Benefit believing their campaign was “…totally ‘tongue in cheek’”, the reality is that girls are looking to mainstream cosmetic companies to teach them how to behave and how to look. Girls as young 8 are actively participating in cosmetic culture, resulting in cosmetic companies becoming a source of education and influence.

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Girls as young as 12 are afraid to leave home without wearing a full face of make-up, new research has revealed. A new study has found that over half of 12 to 14-year-olds wear make-up most days and 17% refuse to leave the house without make-up on.

This advertisement promotes and reinforces the message that girls and women are only valued for their looks and not their brains. This is a real and not a laughable problem when girls as young as 12 are deciding not to go outside or attend school due to not having a face full of make-up.

This is serious. We need to face up to the fact that beauty standards placed on girls and young women are causing serious harm, with 70% of adolescent girls having body dissatisfaction, resulting in eating disorders, self-harm and depression.

Benefit has a responsibility to teach our girls about self-esteem and body positivity that does prioritise looks over school education. Benefit has failed to meet the expectations of their consumers, by promoting negative messages.

Benefit needs to enact Corporate Social Responsibility in their marketing and advertising. We would welcome Benefit to reach out to Collective Shout to learn more about our CSR program.

If you want to be a part of the fight and help our girls, join us and be a part of our movement.

Tara Kortel has a Bachelor of Social Science, specialising in legal Studies. She is currently completing the Bachelor of Criminology and Psychology.


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