Beauty in the Era of Trump

I recently asked my students to show me the Youtube videos they love, and . . . wow. We are living in a dark age of terrible observational comedy, pranks, and not very well thought out identity politics. But, glass houses. I’m not not proud of my Youtube consumption either. Recently, however, beauty Youtube for old ladies has made a turn towards the political. It happened because of Trump. Something feels particularly icky about “hauls” and sponsored videos when we have a snake-oil salesman in the White House.

Our beloved Anna and our strange friend Mercedes have been inspired to stop pushing products at us. And they are inspired by a genuinely delightful Youtuber: Kimberly Clark. Her videos are funny and genuinely woke.

Kimberly Clark is not radical because she is a drag queen. In fact her new videos have thrown into relief the key role drag queens, and appropriations of drag queen makeup, have played in the explosive growth of the beauty industry. She is radical because she wants to buy everything (so I can relate to her), but she is doing the valuable work of talking us and herself down from actually buying all the products.

Another valuable resource in this radical anti-buying stuff turn is Dr. Dray on Youtube. She is a dermatologist who, for reasons that are unclear to me, is giving away her expertise for free. She is willing to answer basically all questions in the comments. Her wisdom is timely: put your sunscreen on, use retinoids for heavy duty wrinkle/acne work, stop irritating your skin with serums, oils, and masks, and see a dermatologist for genuine skin problems. Amen.


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