Bobbi Brown Makeup Collection

Sultry Eye Palette, part of Bobbi Brown's new Smoky, Sultry, Smoldering Collection.

Bobbi Brown has used her friends as models in her books in the past. This year, the founder of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics asked them and, in some cases, their daughters, to be the faces of her fall campaign.

According to her website: "Bobbi’s mission has always been to give women the tools and skills to look and feel their absolute, most confident best."

She asked her customers to send in videos describing how they go from feeling “pretty” to “pretty powerful”.

I am torn on this.

On the one hand, we know from many sociological studies that beauty is a powerful currency in our society. The beautiful make more money, are treated better all around in terms of service, and are deferred to in ways that the rest of us will never experience. They are believed to be smarter, nicer and better people than the average human; even if this is not the case. All due to an accident of genetics determined by millimeters of symmetry.

North American society already gives girls and young women the unrelenting message that to be “beautiful” AND (especially) thin is a necessity in order to succeed in life. Do we need to have another major cosmetics company suggesting that “pretty” gives us power?

On the other hand, why not concentrate on the second word in that phrase—powerful?

Since we concentrate so very much on appearance in western societies, why not let young people know that personal power is the most valuable asset they possess? This power can be in terms of physical strength and fitness no matter a person’s size, using one’s brain power to excel at school and in a chosen career, or through strength of character—just being a flat-out decent person.

It seems to me that the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty and their Self-Esteem Fund is designed to help with the concept of personal power.

bobbi brown pretty powerful

I know that a lot of people have difficulty with a company that sells beauty products being involved in such an endeavor. It does appear to be hypocritical—anti-aging hair products being marketed to 50+ women, and anti-cellulite creams on size 12 models, for example.

I’m also aware of the backlash stating that Dove is “promoting obesity” by using those size 12 models. Since none of those women are clinically-obese, can one not make the argument that using the six-foot size 0 models is promoting eating disorders? One only has to read Crystal Renn’s biography Hungry to understand what the fashion and beauty business does to the health of the women (teenagers) in front of the cameras.

Bobbi Brown offered makeovers to the winners of her “Pretty Powerful” campaign. Dove offers self-esteem workshops to girls across North America.

Speaking only for myself, I wish Dove had a campaign like that when I was growing up. I grew up in a house where I was never good enough in any way; my hair was always “wrong” and I was even nicknamed “Two-Ton-Tessie” when I was thin. Is it any wonder that I’m a 50-year-old fat woman who wishes she could win the lottery just to be thin and beautiful?

For those of you with daughters and granddaughters, little sisters, nieces and young cousins, and even mentees through the Big Sisters or Boys & Girls Clubs, do them a favor and concentrate on “powerful” in all its forms. It will give them a more beautiful tomorrow.