Justice

Origins Thinks We Look Too Old Already, Millennials

February 21st 2015

By:
Alicia Lutes

Origins, a beauty and cosmetic brand, is touting a new campaign as a marketing initiative "embracing" the "quarter-life crisis trend." It has rolled out an all-digital advertising effort for their Original Skin Renewal serum product launch, hoping to cash-in with their $40-a-bottle (allegedly an "entry-level price point" according to AdAge) cream to stop 20-year-olds from looking so old.

At least that is according to Yann Marois, the executive director of global marketing for brands Origins. In his mind, young people "lead a very public life" and thus "looking your best is a real concern for that age."

"Especially when you're going through all these changes that make you more vulnerable," he added, highlighting what so much of the advertising geared toward women is about: focusing on the perceived undesirability of their vulnerabilities. A problem to be fixed. Our society's obsession with beauty has created a multi-billion dollar industry that wields real power in shaping not only women’s perceptions of beauty standards, but also of their own self-worth in relation to those standards. And their products continue to trend ever-downwards in terms of the age of their target clientele.

You mad yet?

Origins #QuarterLifeCrisis

Now, let it be said first and foremost: we know advertising based on insecurities is nothing new. That's how the entire industry was born. But we live in the age of the #LikeAGirl campaign and those not-so-bad Dove commercials, with clear calls for more equality and respect for women — particularly in the way we advertise to them. So if we don't demand better, higher standards from the companies that serve us — insist we do not want to play the psychological mind games — who will?

The 2008 YWCA USA report, titled Beauty at Any Cost, addressed the very real effect that obsessing over one's beauty has on women (and young girls) in America. The report found that said obsession resulted in decreased levels of self-esteem...and also earned the beauty industry a ton of money (as it stands currently: an average of $8 billion per year).

But it's nothing new (understatement). Advertisements from the early days of the industry are filled with shame-enforcing tactics. The difference now is that we're telling even young people that even they are too old-looking these days; that our standards demand there is never too soon a time to start worrying about skin elasticity or wrinkles or sagging, uneven skin. As any woman who was previously a young adolescent girl can tell you: young girls' idols are not fellow teens, but rather the 23 to 30-year-olds playing teens on TV and in movies or making the music that they listen to and like — a.k.a. Origins' target clientele.

See how slippery is the slope?

Origins #QuarterLifeCrisis

Since anti-aging products came into existence, their target demographic has always been middle-aged women, giving younger women another beauty standard they didn't previously have to worry about: looking young. In fact, this product came about after doing research — as AdAge put it — "centered on entering the 'white space' of skincare for women in their 20s" that no one was serving. Nobody asked, so Origins answered.

Now, it seems that any age is a good age to start worrying about how young you lookAnd wouldn't you know it, it's working: women in the 18 - 30 range are more worried about aging than ever, according to the NPF Group. Millennial women are free to seek out and spend their cash on existing anti-aging products if they so choose. But to target us directly infers there's a problem that we need to fix about ourselves. This product did not come out of their clientele's demands but rather market research looking to fill a hole and capitalize. That's not concern — that's capitalism.

What makes this even worse is that studies show anti-aging products have a vague-to-no positive effect. Medical professionals, moreover, do not consider these lotions to be health care products. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), according to the Mayo Clinic, classifies creams and lotions as cosmetics, "defined as having no medical value." Meaning they are regulated less strictly than actual drugs and their testing for safety and overall effectiveness is not nearly as rigorous — regardless of what the marketing campaigns may tell you.

Haven't we had enough of already? It's bad enough these tactics have been used forever, but now we're pushing them earlier than ever before? It's discouraging to see that even when it feels like we've come so far, we still have miles to go when it comes to respecting rather than reviling women into buying products. Aren't we tired of beauty companies telling us we're not good-looking enough? If not us, Millennials, then whom? The 10-year-olds?