Seen the commercial celebrating the heartwarming accomplishments of that woman who hooks up disabled people with service dogs? It’s so nice, because service dogs are expensive, and although it may surprise you, not all disabled people are millionaires who can afford them. So the dog lady wins an award. A Woman of WorthTM award.
That’s right. Women of WorthTM. Most women aren’t worth anything; that’s what makes this award, just for women who are worth something, so distinguished. Guess who hands it out? Nope, not the California domestic violence crisis center of the same name. I allude to L’Oreal Paris, of course, the cosmetics multinational whose slogan is “It costs a little more, but I’m worth it.”
The slogan was written in 1973 to cash in on a “social revolution and a new spirit of feminism.” Clearly, the phenomenon of “pinkification” — by which I mean the corporate co-opting, commodification, and misogynist repurposing of women’s social and political issues — is nothing new. The slogan “Because I’m worth it,” L’Oreal Paris says with a straight face, has “become part of our social fabric” because it proceeds “strictly from a woman’s point of view.”
Which point of view, thanks in part to a femininity industry that preys on women’s fears of worthlessness, bypasses all “social revolution” and “spirit of feminism” to revert straight to equating self-esteem with lipstick-caked self-loathing.
“Worth” is an interesting word choice. Among those words which indicate meaningfulness or merit, “worth” stands out with some pretty strong connotations of pecuniary value. “Worth it” is an idiom describing the satisfactory outcome of a personal sacrifice, often monetary, given in trade for some improving circumstance. Like when you save up to buy a new toilet. Objects, like toilets and, apparently, women, have worth, but they rarely have merit.
Here is the de-patriarchalized translation of L’Oreal’s slogan: “My value is equivalent to the financial commitment I am willing to make to the performance of submissive femininity behaviors which benefit me materially only insofar as they enhance my ability to appease my oppressor.”
Or, “I recognize that it’s better to be high-priced than cheap.”
When L’Oreal, a corporate entity which exists solely to profit from women’s oppression, isn’t doing everything in its power to leverage women’s self-hatred into a preoccupation with drugstore wrinkle cream, it’s “celebrating” women who are “worth it” with, what else, philanthropy.
L’Oreal’s philanthropy involves getting do-gooders — the Women of Worth TM — to perform in print and TV ads in exchange for national exposure and $5000 charitable contributions. To further cleanse its blackened soul, L’Oreal donates another 5 grand each to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund.
I don’t know anything about the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, but if their website is any indication, they appear to subscribe to a Crunch For the Cure/Komen style of product placement/nebulous “awareness”/plucky volunterrorism that really rankles the Twisty lobes. How transparent is it when corporations glom onto chick-cancer? They can look pro-woman without having to look pro-feminist.
Anyway. You might be wondering what it takes to have “worth” in this world. According to L’Oreal a Woman of Worth TM is “a beautiful person” whose “devotion” to stuff like “children’s initiatives” is “endless.” She sounds just like one of those plucky Komen cancer survivors.
L’Oreal, by the way, tests their unnecessary beauty products on animals. They don’t come right out and admit that animal testing is bad, but they do explain, somewhat defensively, that they are pretty much forced to do it, because beauty is that important, and, remember, you’re worth it. In other words, the magnanimous beauty industrial complex is willing to endure the suffering of untold thousands of sentient beings on your worthy behalf in order to protect its own even worthier bottom line. But buy that lipstick with a clean conscience: L’Oreal is “contributing significantly” to a European cosmetics “directive” that will end animal testing “for the complex tests” by 2013. Meanwhile, they’re working on “Refining” the torture so that it doesn’t cause the animals to spontaneously combust in clots of cancerous bloody gore. As often.
By the way, when I said that the word “worth” means “pecuniary value” I wasn’t being entirely forthcoming. In 17th century usage it meant “manure.”
Note: I got all the L’Oreal info from their own website.