Revlon Wants You to Choose Love: Criticism and Appreciation


Revlon recently sponsored a study to demonstrate the positive impact a daily ritual involving fragrance, makeup and self-care activities can have on ones mood and relationships. I found the video so unobjectionable that I almost think the response to it as an object of projection is more interesting than the content. So I have the following thoughts, both for and against the video:

  • Rebranding sex, not makeup:  Makeup is still about sex, but sex is about love (as opposed to power, transgression, liberation, pleasure or passion).  And being “open to love” is of course a function of how you feel about yourself, not how you feel about your partner.  Notice most of the partner objections in the first half of the commercial are about how their partner feels about themselves.  It’s easy to call this inversion narcissism, which it is, but the problem is you think that means its bad.
  • Affective triggers:  The affects displayed and idealized are affection, vulnerability, joy.  If these trigger aversive contempt, disgust or cynicism you now know why you’re depressed.  Your postmodern justifications for this immediate experience are retroactive (to justify the feeling) not primary (initiating it).  In other words you don’t hate women who like makeup because you’re a feminist.  You’re a feminist in order to hate women who like makeup.  Again – don’t forget that I am not saying you shouldn’t hate women who like makeup.  If you think I’m implying judgement, you’re doing it to yourself, so that you can hate me for saying it.
  • Most likely aversion reactions (devaluation) are a defense against envy (Kernberg, 1979).  The positive affects above can easily strike envy if they make you feel ashamed of not being happy (only in America) or taking better care of yourself.  The lifestyle posture of slovenliness and poor self care is correlated with most mental health issues.
  • I would assert this is extremely “cool” media in the terms of Marsall McLuhan.  This would mean it is banal and vanilla partially in order to be a canvas of participation.  Nothing in the video is as important as the fact that it is released in a social online format.  Indeed, the video itself is a fictionalized enactment of a participatory experience – of a study which itself is a participatory experience, designed to simulate results (self care makes you feel better) which everyone already knew they would find.  Finally, self care in this sense is modeling yourself after others.  This would be Baudrillard’s procession of simulacra, or Rene Girard’s mimetic desire (modeling desires, not only actions, on esteemed others). Perhaps this all conceals the anxiety producing possibility that there is no enduring self to take care of, rather it is constituted by the ritual itself, like the urge to comment upon it as a demonstration or act of self creation – an extension of the self to return to McLuhan.

It’s hard for your comments to be less about you than they are about the-thing-itself.

Ban Bossy


Go ahead, do it.  You should ban “bossy” because there is no reason to be nicer to women than to men.  It’s said with kid gloves.  A woman who is being disrespectful deserves the same criticism of her male counterparts without pulling any punches on account of her gender.

Women can be arrogant, narcissistic, controlling, disrespectful and domineering just like men.  Don’t call them bossy.  Call them douche-bags.

High level leadership has much more to do with creating and managing relationships than it does with forcefully getting your way.  Aren’t those supposed to be traditional female qualities?  Ask the female CEO of General Dynamics, not Beyonce.  

If this bothers you, do a search for “leadership traits” and compare how much more often traits like humility and communication are used than assertiveness and boldness.  Hell, just THINK about what you are saying.  Do you really admire assertiveness in others?  Can you even tell the difference between assertiveness and controlling behavior born from transparent personal insecurity?  Think about the real world, not movies.  Don’t you actually admire people who are encouraging and contribute value rather than throw their weight around?

Some of the great leadership qualities seem more feminine than masculine.  But nothing will ruin your credibility as a leader faster than expecting unearned special treatment or taking task-oriented disagreements personally. As a leader, you will often be blamed for things well beyond your control and have to deal with people who take personal offense when you are trying to be objective.  You have to eat a shit sandwich on a regular basis.  If you take and express offense at peoples reactions, you are controlling.  

If more than one person in your life has told you that you are bossy then you are bossy.  This goes for men and women for any negative quality.   And if you respond with accusations of sexism, you’re also defensive.  As Marshall Goldsmith notes, people usually don’t tell you the truth about your negative qualities out of shame and fear of confrontation.  Great leaders learn from people’s criticism. You have just as much right as a man to maintain these qualities.  They may take you far, but not as far as cultivating communication skills and actual leadership traits.

So ban bossy.  Stop being so nice, women can handle criticism.  Tell them when they are being unprofessional jerks.  And if someone calls you bossy, show them how much of a leader you are by having a conversation with them about what they meant. Disrespect can become an endless carousel of blame.  Leaders know how to get off the ride.