Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez explained why skincare and makeup are more than just "frivolous" choices women make; they can be powerful political statements.
In a YouTube video for Vogue, House Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez shared her everyday skincare routine. As you would have guessed, the video has since gone viral—but not for the reasons you would think. In addition to revealing her daily skincare products and how she uses them, she also took a moment to talk about femininity and why it is so important to continue sharing things that are generally thought to be "frivolous" simply because they are feminized. Skincare and makeup, as you would have guessed, are only two of those things. She also discussed the importance of a good skincare routine when you are a busy politician who gets little to no sleep.
At the very outset of the video, she makes a reference to the iconic red lipstick she is always seen rocking. "I have not gotten much sleep last night at all, welcome to life in politics," she continues. "We are trying to get people healthcare, making sure that they are taken care of in a pandemic, people are fighting too much, and so I have bags under my eyes." In order to take care of the bags under her eyes, she goes in with a toner by Estée Lauder first. The toner, according to skincare experts, is perhaps not the best one out there but still has some benefits for tired skin. Her next steps include a Vitamin C serum by an unnamed brand and a moisturizer by a Japanese skincare line, both of which have been praised for their moisturizing ingredients.
Though fans were disappointed that she did not share what cleanser she used, they were empowered by what she had to say next. She says, "So I get questions all the time on my Instagram stories about skincare routines and makeup and what I do, and the reason why I think it's so important to share these things is that first of all: femininity has power. And in politics, there is so much criticism and nitpicking about how women and [feminine] people present ourselves. Just being a woman is quite politicized here in Washington. There's this really false idea that if you care about makeup or if your interests are in beauty and fashion, that that's somehow for the least. But I actually think these are some of the most substantive decisions that we make and we make them every morning."
And all the fashionistas screamed. How we dress, the kind of makeup we do (or don't) wear, and the ways in which we choose to present ourselves are all political messaging. For a woman on Capitol Hill, these simple decisions can make or break a campaigning event, public address, or even a session in Congress. Further to this, makeup, fashion, and beauty industries are strife with issues of equality and justice just as much as any other industry is. When we ignore these realities, we only worsen them. She affirms later in the video as she dons her iconic red lip, "One of the things that I had realized is that, you know, when you're always kind of running around, sometimes the best way to really look put together is a bold lip. And of course, being Latina, this is like very much our culture, where we come from."
For AOC, her red lip is more than just a makeup choice; it is a political statement. "I will wear a red lip when I want confidence, when I need a boost of confidence," she states. "Our culture is so predicated on diminishing women, right? And kind of preying on our self-esteem. And so it's quite a radical act and it's almost like a mini protest to love yourself in a society that's always trying to tell you you're not the right way, you're not the right color, you're not the right, you know, whatever it is. And when you stand up and you say, 'You know what? You don't make that decision, I make that decision,' It's very powerful. (But that doesn't mean we can't have fun.)" So if you needed some motivation to wear a bold lip to your next Zoom call, do like AOC and...do you!