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Revlon tells women to smile and wear makeup in horrifying new video

On the surface, Revlon’s new we-hope-this-goes-viral video seems innocuous enough. After all, the campaign is called “Choose Love,” and it’s meant to empower women (I think). But look a little closer, and it’s about as empowering as a “how to please your husband ad” from the 1950s.

For the video, Revlon—and the same company that made that viral “first kiss” video last year—had several in-love couples come into a studio and talk about their relationship. We meet couples who have been together for one month and several decades, all equally adorable. They talk about their special spark, as well as their insecurities—well, the women’s insecurities—and how they affect their relationship.

Then the women are told to go home and try a new beauty routine for a week, then come back and describe how their lives have improved!

Just what was this magical routine? “The ritual entailed taking time to appreciate yourself each day by looking in the mirror, applying fragrance and eye make-up, enjoying a mint or chocolate, applying lipstick, taking a deep breath and lastly, smiling,” according to the press release.

That’s right. The ladies were told to wear makeup, eat some chocolate, and try to smell a little better. Basically, to go and tidy themselves up while the men continued to go about their everyday lives eating Cheetos and watching Netflix.

After I watched the video I became angry—not because of how ridiculous the “experiment” was—but because I think Revlon’s intentions were actually pure of heart. I think they really meant to make a video that would seem like it was helping women.

This vintage ad basically conveys the same idea.

Instead, they perpetuated the stereotype that women’s looks can (and should?) determine their happiness, that women aren’t very into sex (two men mentioned wanting more), and that if only women knew how to spruce themselves up a bit and smile more, their lives would improve. Which means those sexist vintage ads floating around the internet aren’t so vintage after all.

Sadly, the campaign makes clear that the concept that women need to change, women need to open up, women need to blah blah blah in order to find or keep love is so ingrained in our culture that the message can actually be construed as empowering. In reality, this rhetoric puts all the blame and responsibility on women. It says, “Hey, ladies, if you’re not in love or your relationship isn’t burning with desire, well—it’s your choice.”

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