Refreshing themes from her 2001 best-seller, Bobbi Brown Teenage Beauty: Everything You Need to Look Pretty, Natural, Sexy and Awesome, Bobbi Brown recently released her newest beauty bible, Beauty Rules: Fabulous Looks, Beauty Essentials, and Life Lessons.
In an interview in the LA Times, Brown makes her main message to teens explicit:
“That you are and can be amazing. You have to realize it, then you have to know a few tips and tricks. Everything from being kind to eating healthy – to basically do the right thing. Be who you are.” Sounds easy.
On the Today Show, Brown interviewed a group of teen girls on what they love or don’t love about their looks. When one girl admitted she hated her nose, Brown made her turn to profile. “It looks like you bought that nose!” she reassured with a compliment that makes sense to today’s teens, who know the high price paid for botox, surgery and liposuction. And then came a more complex question from one of the teen panelists:
“So why do you need to wear make-up?” To which Brown responded with a canned, although simultaneously authentic response about 'making you the best you possible.'
This kind of question should come as no surprise. In her still-astute and relevant 1997 history of beauty, “The Body Project,” Joan Jacobs Brumberg notes that as early as pre-World War I, women were taught that “being a better person meant paying less attention to the self.” And while today’s teens have been raised in a post-girl power culture, they still struggle with the lived experience that looks matter. In fact, YouthBeat data from the first half of 2010 finds that only 21% of teens strongly agree that they are “happy with the way [they] look.” (Note, this is up slightly from 2009, when only 18% agreed).
So have we gone nowhere, baby? Well, today’s teens know to challenge these notions of feminine ideals. They resist, in subtle and not so subtle ways, conforming to the images of beauty that they see on screen and on the pages of their magazines. But more often than not, they’re still looking for a few good beauty tips.