Feminist ideologues hate the idea of women wearing makeup–that’s kowtowing to the arch-enemy, men, by making yourself look attractive.
But decades of anti-eyeliner screeds such as Naomi Wolf’s The Beauty Myth haven’t managed to tear our sex away from the cosmetic counters. So now, the IWF’s own Carrie Lukas reports on what might be called Plan B of the assault on the beauty industry: convincing teen-age girls that slathering on the mascara and blush could give them breast cancer. (Carrie’s article, “Mass-Scare-a,” appears on our home page and also in the Washington, D.C., Examiner.)
The movement is called Operation Beauty Drop, and its advocates travel around to high schools urging the girls to drop their beauty, or at least their beauty products, into Beauty Drop bins. At the root of the scare are chemical substances called phthalates used chiefly in mascara, but also in nail polish and facial cleansers. How the phthalates on your eyelashes and your nails wander over to your breasts is anyone’s guess, but the European Union has banned the stuff, so it must be bad.
As Carrie points out, however, the U.S. government has conducted extensive tests on phthalates;
“In 2001, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention studied the effects of these substances on rats. Analysts concluded that rats that became ill had absorbed the equivalent of four and a half bottles of nail polish a day for 70 years. The Food and Drug Administration examined this and other data and concluded that these ingredients are safe as used in cosmetics.
“Why, then, did the European Union ban the use of phthalates in cosmetics? Because something called the ‘precautionary principle’ says, in effect, we must assume every chemical is dangerous until it’s proven safe.”
“Proving something safe, of course, is an impossibly high standard. No one can prove that something will never, ever be harmful. But it’s a principle that these activists want to apply to our cosmetics.”
As Carrie points out, the real aim of the Beauty Drop activists is likely not so much to abolish phthalates as to abolish makeup itself. Carrie writes:
“[A]n element of political correctness may also fuel this debate. Leftist feminists tend to resent women’s efforts to achieve physical attractiveness. Naomi Wolf’s ‘The Beauty Myth’ focused on the detrimental impact that the quest for beauty plays in women’s lives. Feminists regularly attack women’s magazines that glorify often unattainable images of beauty and complain that women’s vanity is a product of a patriarchal society that compels women to attract and please men.
“This worldview may explain why feminist activists focus on the speculative ‘dangers’ of cosmetics, but are less enthusiastic about discussing other controllable health risks.
“For example, Womens eNews, a feminist Web magazine, has run multiple articles on the speculative link between breast cancer and makeup but has largely ignored obesity’s far stronger link to cancer.”
And what I love about this newest anti-beauty campaign is this sentence from the Feministing website:
“For the past month, the [Beauty Drop] girls have been traveling to stores and schools in their areas, educating girls and boys their age about the health dangers of cosmetics.”