I'd seen some of the Rodarte collection before but hadn't looked into it because, once again, the colours of the collection did not interest me. But now I am horrified.
The reason everyone is so angry at Mac is that some of the names of the products are named after a border city notorious for it's crime rate, called by many 'the most dangerous city in the world'. Further more part of the reason for this reputation is that a horrendous string of murders against the women of the city (thousands have occured since 1993 and are unsolved). The majority of the women killed were between the ages of 12 and 22 and were factory workers. And most of them showed signs of sexual violence and torture on their bodies.
Ignorance is one excuse, i can admit that i had never heard of or the atrocities comitted there, so if noone had pointed it out i wouldn't have known anything was distasteful about the names. However after learning about it i cannot believe that anyone who understands where the names stem from cannot see anything wrong with it!
As for Mac and Rodarte being ignorant about the subject, i cannot imagine how this can be possibkle. The name 'Juarez' could have been an innocent mistake but when combined with others such as 'Factory' and 'Ghosttown' how could they be inspired by anything other than the city and the crimes. Especially when Rodarte have admitted that their A/W collection was inspired by 'the maquiladora workers going to the factory in the middle of the night'
'that, according to the designers, who certainly know how to romance a pitch, led to this conclusion: They’d build a collection off the idea of sleepwalking.'
'I came across a note about Rodarte's Fall 2010 ready-to-wear collection and the source of its creative energies – maquiladoras in Mexico's Ciudad Juárez. Yes, maquiladoras. The same maquiladoras that serve as the site for violence, exploitation and femicide, all neatly brokered by global corporate capitalism.'
The group of murders is known as 'las muertas de Juárez' or 'The dead women of Juárez'. The makeup of the models from Rodarte's show and now the promo pictured for the Mac collection makes the women look like corpses or ghosts and this deeply troubles me. It's as if these women are supposed to represent the murdered girls, but a beautiful, high fashion, couture version of a murdered girl (reminds me of that awful poor-taste episode of ANTM where the girls posed as dead girls and the judges said things like 'you look beautiful...and dead'.). And this along with the idea that the show was inspired by 'Sleepwalking' does not sit well with me.
The idea that the models, inspired by the Factory workers are 'sleepwalking' is horribly offensive to me. The workers are real, living women. Many will have friends or family members who have suffered horribly and many must fear for their lives as so many poor, young women have been murdered. To use these women as 'inspiration' for you multi million selling makeup or clothes range just does not sit well with me.
I cannot put it better than the author of this:
'Women in Ciudad Juárez contend with casual violence, grinding poverty, and a higher risk of death than almost anywhere else on this earth — and they make our jeans. It's a little icky to ask them to "inspire" $4,000 dresses as well. Rodarte has done collections inspired by Japanese horror movies (they made dresses dyed so that they looked like they were bleeding), but there's a huge difference between aestheticizing fictional violence and aestheticizing real violence. It's discomfiting to think about the latter.'
Makeup is, let's not forget, a beauty product. While it can be used to create art, to make people look grotesque, etc it was invented primarily to make people look and feel more attractive. The collection is made of 'regular' makeup (as apposed to Special FX makeup or similar) which again is meant to enhance a woman's natural beauty. When this is combined with a concept to do with death, kidnap and so on it becomes incredibly morally dubious. The promo photos are not meant as artistic photographs illustrating the suffering, they are advertising a product. The model's look, while not to everyone's taste is meant to be something to inspire. Should Mac and Rodarte really be saying a murdered mexican woman is something to inspire us? Should the idea of these women be used to sell makeup or clothes? Using these sort of ideas in conjunction with a beauty product appears to be glamourising Juarez.
As well as being shocked and appalled at Mac for this i am also just as shocked and appalled by some of the comments on the website. Many people seem to see absolutely no problem with the names.
The main argument people are saying as for why these names are fine and not morally dubious is that makeup is art, art is often inspired by horrible events, and so there is no problem.
They've got one thing right, art is often inspired by horrible events.
Take for instance Picasso's piece Guernica:
The piece was comissioned by the Spanish Government, meaning that yes, in a way, Picasso was making money out of the suffering. However what Picasso did was bring the true horror of the bombing to light, there is nothing remotely glamourous about the piece, nothing celebratory or heroic, just a piece that shows the misery and pain that war can create. Seeing the piece makes me feel a little queasy because it is just so raw and brutal, it's horrible and painful to look at because it relects the true misery of the bombing. And in fact the painting has become an anti-war symbol and a reminder of the tradgedies of war.
Then let's take the Juarez polish as our next example. It's described as a 'Bright Opal Pink' with a frost finish. I've seen no photos of the polish but looking at the packaging of the other pieces in the collection i imagine it will be a normal Mac polish bottle with 'Rodarte' on it. Does a pink nail varnish named after a town where thousands of women have been raped and murdered do the same thing as Picasso's painting? Will this polish become a symbol of how wrong femicide is? Somehow i don't think so.
Also while Picasso (and other artists who make work to do with pain and suffering) was paid for the piece I believe (maybe i'm a little biased as i am an artist myself) that money is not the only, or even most important thing on the artists mind when they create the work. And while Mac may have had some artistic vision behind the collection the main and most important thing is to sell makeup and make money.
I agree entirely that makup can be used to create art, makeup artists are amazing and can use the medium to make pieces as creative and moving as any painting or sculpture. However a nail polish is not art in and of itself! A lipstick named Factory is no more a piece of art than my tube of 'Titanium White' acrylic.
People are arguing that 'it's just makeup so lighten up' but to me that's part of the problem! I love makeup but, lets be honest, it's not the most important thing in the world! It's a fun, frivolous thing that brings me a giddy little thrill and makes me feel better about myself. And as such it seems morally dubious to name something so frivolous after a horrific thing that is happening.
Another argument is that to complain about this is just politically correct nonsense. Political correctness Gone MAD to me is something along the lines of how once my Mum worked somewhere where you could not call coffee 'black' or 'white' (true story). Not being offended and appalled that someone would name a piece of makeup after horrific violence being put upon women.
A commenter made a brilliant point that, were the collection based on the Holocaust with colours named things such as Auschwitz, Gas Chamber etc people would have been up in arms, but for some reason it's ok when the name is inspired by a town where the murder and rape of hundres of mexican women has taken place. Other commenters then were furious at this comparison, but why? If we have learned anything from World War 2 and the Holocaust it is incredibly wrong to treat any person, no matter what colour or creed differently. Suffering is suffering no matter who it is happening to, which makes it perfectly sensible to compare 2 examples of human suffering. If it's somehow wrong to make light of the slaughter of Jews by naming a product after the place of their suffering why is it fine to do the same to Mexican women?
To me it also depresses me that, in the first Mac collection inspired by Mexico (as far as I am aware) there is very little the celebrates the beauty of Mexico and it's culture. The majority of the names are things like 'Bordertown', 'Badlands' and 'Ghosttown', which just seems that they are looking only at the problem areas of the country and can create quite a miserable, cynical view of Mexico as a whole.
As i wrote about before i was disenchanted with Mac's products and ideas, but I never thought they would be so careless, offensive and insensitive. Mac has often presented a front of being philanthropic, raising money and awareness about AIDS with the Viva Glam program for instance which i guess is why i'm so shocked they would do something so stupid and offensive.
Now, only after realising people are upset Mac have deigned to donate to charities to help the problem. This also is awfully distasteful to me, they had no intention to help before and were happy to capitalise on selling products named and inspired by a place rife with femicide, but then realised that people were unhappy and might not buy from them. Only then did they decide to donate an as yet undisclosed portion of the profits.
It's great that this has raised awareness of the awful situation in but this was not Mac's intention. They did not make any statement about the atrocities to go with this collection and so they should not be applauded. I'm certain they would never have brought it up at all. The awareness is coming from people who have been offended by the names, not Mac or Rodarte themselves. What they did was just wrong, and though some good has come out of it, it does not make it any less wrong.
To be honest I don't know what to do about this situation. People have already written to Mac with their complaints and they claim to have taken them onboard by donating some of the proceeds. Even i they were to change the names the damage is already dumb. To me the problem now is not so much that the product is called 'Juarez' but that someone thought it was a good idea to name it such an insensitive thing. Inspiration can come from anywhere but it's just poor taste to profit from a glamourised idea based on human suffering. Especially when it's not saying anything about the problem. Is this what the murdered women's families will want to represent them? A collection of makeup?
Le Petit Jardin De Liloo
London Beauty Queen
London Makeup Girl
So Far So Chic
Sparkle and Shade
Vex In The City
Sparklz and Shine
Diary of a Cake Girl
My Lips But Better
Tacky Blue Eyeshadow
(if you know any more please tell me)
After reading a few of the posts listed above (and i do suggest you read them, each one has something new to say and they are all very well written and thought through. Many talk a lot more about the awful situation in Juarez, i just touched upon it) I've discovered something else troubling about the collection.
This is a collection based upon Mexico and Mexican worker women. However all of the models are white. The selection of colours, to go with the beautiful corpse look, are pale. For instance there are a couple of products that go by the usual Mac foundation names and only come in one shade, up to NC30. Now this would be too dark for me but too light for the huge majority of Latina women. The other items also seem geared towards pale skin, with pale nude lips and white-ish pink blush. So it would actually be very difficult for the Mexican women that inspired this collection to wear the products. And this is troubling. It's sort of appropriating the inspiration to make it work for the white, middle class customer base of Mac.