Girly Conflicts

The adventures of a not makeup fan working at a cosmetic’s company

When I was little I dreamed of being a princess (I still do but for smarter reasons) and by little I mean around the time I was 5 years old, so it didn’t last for too much time. The appeal was in the magic, the pretty castles and the dresses, and of course in all the love stories related with that tiara wearer concept. Then this smart voice inside my head talked: “let’s be honest”, she said.

At this point I would completely suck as a princess, starting from the delicate behaviour, smart manners and the needed skills to start a nice conversation out of nothing. Not princess material at all. This inner discussion got stronger with the place where I started working almost two months ago: I’m doing an internship at a cosmetics company and I don’t know anything about makeup at all. I don’t do makeup; it’s complicated, takes time and money I could use better (I would like very much to invest in Stromboli’s pizza again) and I don’t understand it, which made me question if I’m doing it right, if I’m girling the right way.

Talking with some of my girl friends it looks like I have the perfect job, the dream job, I live just in front of the open gates of makeup heaven! And I feel just like Andrea Sachs (portrayed by Anne Hathaway in The Devil Wears Prada) does when she starts working at Runway: “What am I doing here?”

Do you see that face? I make that face too, pretty often. Did I mention this is also one of my favorite movies?

Maybe I was not as hit by everything as she did but do you happen to know how weird does it feel to talk daily with engineers (most of them older men) about mascara or lipstick and realize they know way more than me about it? And not just in a technical way.

The environment change has been really noticeable too, considering I come from an university with a high rate of diversity and I’ve been living inside a design faculty for more than four years now. I feel like an outsider working in some research project about how the average world is, because I’m not saying this with a mean undertone, but most things here are a huge cliché.

In this new found universe, guys like soccer, cars and motorcycles (I’ve never met so many soccer fans/players till now, I’m actually impressed) and girls like makeup, personal care and heels, which contrasts a bit with my lack of understanding of business casual outfits and my strong belief of sneakers being the best kind of footwear for any occasion. It’s not that I don’t feel welcomed because everyone has been nothing but nice, kind and fun so far, but I see myself as the new strange purchase some random couple just made. Not quite as a mascot but as a cat being taken care of by dogs, for six months straight. Sometimes I start missing what I have at the faculty, the kind of persons I surround myself with daily and the carefree vibe that lingers around creative environments that makes me feel at home.

I wish I could take some of that energy and show them all what’s it like to be in a less binary world where the concept of beauty stops trying to be universal and turns into somehow unique expressions. The traditional perception of beauty and the way it changes everything inside the company is what actually bothers me and so does the resistance to embrace different ideas focused in new kinds of beauty, and this view of the world is what actually makes me feel left out and question girliness.

Beauty becomes an absolute concept where the exploration possibilities are less bold and the need seeking becomes a loop, with most of the innovation being focused on incrementing features rather than in the creation of new concepts of beauty, which can be explored by users that change as fast as the industry does (at least in a global scale, maybe not much in the latin american one). As the outsider I am I think it’s their loss.

The internet told me his name is James Charles and I think his lashes are on point.

On the other hand, some paradigms have been changed in the past years in a global scale and the traditional ideas about what’s it like to be girly or manly are all scrambled, and some top makeup brands are guilty, like CoverGirl and their bet on the first male brand ambassador or less courageous brands and the growth of their products offer for men, although there’s no need to go that far looking for references to back up my theories or arguments (I don’t even know what I’m doing, I just got excited typing). My final thought on this issue: Latin american beauty companies are still far behind.

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