Mika Ninagawa for Shu, round 2
Curator's Corner: happy (almost) spring!

Friday fun (?): Child's play

Some recent collections have gotten me wondering about why makeup companies have been doing packaging that would appeal more to little girls than to women (or even teenagers.)   It started with Too-Faced's 2010 holiday collection called Enchanted Wonderland, which included 2 pop-up palettes featuring the girlie trifecta of fairies, flowers and tons of pink. 

Too_faced holiday 2010
(images from talkingmakeup.com and beautifulwithbrains.com)

I have nothing against pop-up palettes - I love Urban Decay's Alice in Wonderland and NYC palettes - but it seems that Too-Faced took it just a step too far by making theirs fairy-themed, or at least, didn't execute it in such a way to make it seem sophisticated the way Urban Decay did.  The palettes look more like something that my 2 year-old niece would be drawn to rather than an adult.

After this collection, I started noticing a spate of odd, "little girl"-type cosmetics.  I've already discussed the packaging for Tarina Tarantino and MAC Wonder Woman, but Sephora has introduced the Hello Kitty line, along with a set of flower-shaped brushes. 

(images from sephora.com and nordstrom.com)

Finally, the new ad campaigns for Illmasqua's Toxic Nature and MAC's Quite Cute collection feature women whose clothing and accessories definitely have little-girl elements to them (butterflies, pigtails and exaggerated tutus for Illmasqua, stuffed animals and bubbles for MAC):

Blonde Wasps_face

Green wig_full body

Not only does MAC present a sort of overgrown tween in the image, it revels in the theme.  According to the ad copy, Quite Cute is "a style ride that combines postage-stamp-sized puppies with pixie swizzle-stick fashion and butterfly kisses for cute boys and even cuter shoes!"  I have a vicious sweet tooth but that's too saccharine even for me!

(images from illmasqua.com and temptalia.com)

Now, I have defended more kiddie-esque makeup and collaborations, such as various Disney, Barbie and Alice in Wonderland collections.  And I love stuffed animals - the entire Museum staff is composed of plushies!  It's okay for grown-ups to take comfort in and enjoy the delights of childhood on occasion.  But I feel as though the line between sweetly childlike and just plain immature needs to be drawn somewhere.   With this kind of packaging and advertising, are companies encouraging the infantilization of women?  Or possibly the sexualization of little girls?  (Tutus aside in the Illmasqua ads, some of the models are wearing fishnets and heels.)  I don't think anyone can say for sure.  I do know that I am slightly confused as to what makes certain ads and packaging that are centered around kid-friendly themes feel more acceptable than others.  Good:  MAC's Hello Kitty line.  Bad:  The regular Hello Kitty line.   Maybe it's simply a matter of personal taste.

What do you think?  Are these designs playfully whimsical or painfully juvenile?  And if the latter, do you think it encourages a societal view of women as children or is it totally harmless?

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