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Preteen Eco-Friendly Makeup Actually Destroys Our World

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Wal-Mart's geoGirl line of sheer color cosmetics, with natural ingredients, hits stores this month; the retailer says mothers can buy them for their daughters.

CREDIT: Walmart

Recently Wal-Mart announced a new “eco-friendly” product on their shelves as of Feb. 21: makeup for 8-12 year-old girls. The GeoGirl line is marketed to appeal to the demographic's nascent environmental concerns, containing natural ingredients like white willow bark and green tea—wrapped in recyclable packaging. It's maker Pacific World Corporation's first foray into cosmetics.

While Bonne Bell and Lip Smackers, among other cosmetic brands, have been marketed to young teens for years, Wal-Mart intends GeoGirl to be a more serious, purposeful product than those playful, toy-centered lines of the past. The makeup also contains anti-aging formulas. Product labeling takes a cue from young girls' technology drenched lives, with text messaging-savvy names like QTPi (Cutie Pie) Mineral Blush and iCU (I See You) Liquid2Powder Shadow.

“GeoGirl is about teaching this generation about beauty care in a responsible way,” says Carmen Bauza, Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s vice president of beauty and personal care. “This line is a great learning experience for us to determine how to communicate with this generation.” Joel Carden, executive vice president of marketing and sales for Pacific World, shares that sentiment: “It's the first door to beauty for the next generation. These are real cosmetics … that will create return purchases and create a true beauty consumer.”

So let's get something straight. In a world that is suffering environmentally, socially, and economically from over-consumption, creating new and younger consumers is not eco-friendly. Despite the willow bark used in the makeup and their recyclable (presumably plastic) exteriors, buying more stuff isn't only eco-unfriendly; it actually has a net negative impact on the environment. Consider, for a moment, the resource costs of production, packaging, and shipment, such as the oil to transport the cosmetics and all the non-recyclable packaging associated with the products. And now remember that these marketing execs are right: GeoGirl will create a return customer, who will be buying more and more stuff because she's been told (by GeoGirl, among others) that she wants, no, needs, makeup to look good and be cool.

On that note, GeoGirl's clear goal of promoting looks awareness and anxiety among young girls is hugely sexist and plays into broader cultural messages which are constantly teaching girls—through media, consumer products, and adults and peers—that their physical appeal should be their primary, if not their only, concern. Anti-aging products for girls barely entering puberty? Really? Is this some kind of post-apocalyptic world where feminism or plain common sense never existed? Many authors have covered how the sexualization of young girls increasingly permeates our cultural norms, with only negative consequences for everyone involved—especially those girls carefully applying lipstick before heading off to second grade.

GeoGirl just isn't environmentally unfriendly; it's also culturally toxic.

Jessica Mowles is a staff writer with Campus Progress

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