Quick, think of the biggest issue facing New York City subway riders. No, not insane delays and supposed signal problems. Nope, not wayward hands or break dancers.
It’s makeup shaming, according to CoverGirl.
The cosmetics giant launched a campaign earlier this week to combat public-makeup-application shaming. In a video, the beauty brand took aim at one of the MTA’s “Courtesy Counts” subway car signs, which asks straphangers to not groom while riding.
“We saw the sign and wondered, ‘What’s wrong with applying your makeup in public?’ And is this just an ad on the subway, or a sign of something bigger?” a voice-over asks in a video for the campaign.
The answer, seemingly, is yes: It’s a sign that women are being shamed for swiping on lipstick on the go.
CoverGirl has a study to back up their PSA, called Project PDA for “public displays of application.” The survey, completed by research firm Ipsos, found that more than half of makeup-wearing women said they’d feel uncomfortable doing their makeup in public.
But the beauty brand seems to equate feeling uncomfortable with feeling shamed. Common sense pokes holes in that theory: Most people would feel uncomfortable applying deodorant in public, or using mouthwash, but that doesn’t mean they’re ashamed to do it in public. They’re just preparing for their day in a place that’s better suited for grooming — say, a bathroom.
The PSA comes off as out of touch , or, at the very least, unfamiliar with signs on New York subways. The MTA also asks that riders don’t eat or drink on the subway. No one takes this as fat-shaming, or an implication that people shouldn’t eat in public, or at all.
And it’s not like the signs exist just to make women feel bad about grooming. They protect other riders from wayward powder plumes and hairspray spritzes every time the train lurches — and those applying lipstick and eyeliner from transferring subway germs into their eyes and mouths.
Feeling temporarily prohibited from primping is a small price to pay for keeping your neighbors clean and your immune system intact.
There’s no denying that women have to wade through some deep-seeded misogyny when it comes to their looks. But to take aim at such a specific, shaky aspect of the issue seem misguided.
Why not, instead, focus on something concrete — like the higher price women pay for most grooming products thanks to the “pink tax”?