Here are some facts: grass is green; September follows August; cows go “moo”. Here’s another one: women have hair on their faces. In fact, we have hair all over our bodies, but we definitely have it on our faces, from our foreheads to our chins. It has always been this way – it’s not a big deal. Except maybe it is. Over the weekend, MAC posted a picture of a woman’s lips to Instagram and the social-media platform lost its mind. Why? Because the beauty brand hadn’t retouched the woman’s lip hair.
Showcasing MAC’s Chestnut lip pencil, the image has received just over 143K likes and garnered well over 1,000 comments; comments such as “OMG !!! What about the mustache in her mouth”, “She has got a mustache”, and “What about the yukyyyy hair on the lips ...omg”. Scrolling through the outcry, you’d think the model was sporting a Poirot-style twirly moustache – or maybe a Tom Selleck lip-thatch – not the four teensy hairs that are just about visible above her top lip. But even if it were a Selleck-esque tash, what’s the problem?
The problem is, of course, that women’s body hair is still – STILL – not typically depicted in the media. Meaning that, when we do see it, it’s seen as something out of the ordinary, as opposed to a very normal and natural thing.
Over recent months, there have been a couple of brands challenging this. In June, American razor brand Billie released an advert that actually showed woman with body hair (rather than the shiny, hairless skin we usually see in hair-removal adverts). Hailed as the first of its kind, the advert has been widely applauded. So, too, has UK-based shaving brand Friction Free Shaving, which, in July, also released an advert that depicted women with real-life hair. “We’re used to seeing women pretending to shave already smooth skin. We wanted to call time on this old-fashioned approach and to portray women’s shaving in a more honest and modern way,” commented Briar Keen, co-founder of the brand.
Fortunately, not all the comments on MAC’s Instagram post were negative. Many called the image beautiful, applauding the lack of retouching. “Perfect!! Facial hair and all. It’s absolutely perfect and totally represents actual women,” said one user, while another said, “Thank you Mac. Beauty is not always about perfection. Color is gorgeous. And shock horror woman have hair on their bodies!! Who knew right!”
The images of women in media are all too often an unrealistic depiction of reality. Progress is, to some extent, certainly being made – however, the fact that a few lip hairs in a lipstick advert can cause discussion proves that we still have a way to go.