Everyday, without even batting an eyelash, millions of women around the world suck in their cheeks and purse their lips, as they apply their favorite shades from crimson to cream. The pageantry of trying and applying makeup at your local beauty counter can be extremely cathartic or mildly intimidating depending on who you ask.
But when your makeup calls into question the sexual objectification of young women, well, it’s time we all looked a little harder into that mirror.
Last week, following an article published on Buzzfeed.com, the Twittersphere went ablaze over “Underage Red,” one of the latest shades in celebrity tattoo artist turned former reality star Kat Von D’s line of beauty products, with women calling the color everything from “a lipstick for creeps,” to “a name that makes my skin crawl.”
On Friday, Von D., whose real name is Katherine von Drachenberg, addressed the controversy in a long post published on her Facebook page.
“I have never expected everyone to understand or see things the way that I do,” Von D. began. “With that being said, I can understand why some have found reason to be offended in regards to my choice in naming a lipstick "Underage Red,” but I feel the need to correct those of you who have clearly misinterpreted the name itself, and the inspiration behind it.”
In her post, Von D, who describes the $33 lipstick color as “unapologetic, bold red,” quickly turned unapologetic herself. “If you read the word "underage" and you automatically jump to a disgusting conclusion, I ask you to perhaps question your own mind and thoughts.”
This isn’t Von D’s first rodeo when it comes to picking a controversial lipstick name. In 2013, Sephora pulled “Celebutard,” off the shelves and issued an apology to customers after receiving mass criticism and a Change.org campaign that cited the name as everything from insensitive to a hate crime.
“It has come to our attention that the name of one shade of a lipstick we carry has caused offense to some of our clients and others,” a Sephora spokesperson said in a statement at the time.
Over the years, the names of the beauty products have ranged from cringe-worthy like Essie's "Trophy Wife,” to OPI's over the top "Iris I Was Thinner." It’s a thin and often highly disputed line, and something Catherine McCall, a clinical psychologist who specializes in current cultural factors that affect sexual development hopes to see come to an end.
“It’s never just a name, there’s always a meaning behind it,” Ms. McCall said. “Especially in advertising, names have a lot of power in selling things and it’s just disturbing that they (Sephora) would think a name like that is appropriate. It suggests there’s something appealing about an underage girl.”
The mother of four daughters and four granddaughters, Ms. McCall said she worries about the impact a product like this could have in protecting young girl’s sexual development.
“I think it’s important when marketing any product to be more concerned about protecting the sexual development of young people, not exploiting it,” Ms. McCall said. “And this is grossly inappropriate.”