Nearly every time I use the restroom at work, there are Avon catalogs spread out across the shelf in front of the mirror. When I first started working there, a year and some months ago, I didn’t mind them. They actually served as more of a reinforcement of my move to that department from the company’s call center, since the call center’s bathroom was more of a smelly hole with two doors than a restroom. The bathroom probably rejected the mere thought of Avon.
Anyway. As the months
dragged on passed by, the catalogs began to irritate me. These days, I simply toss them directly into the garbage on my way into the stall. I feel I’m proving some kind of point.
It’s not so much that the catalogs are selling cosmetics, which I have issues with. It’s that someone finds it appropriate to solicit me when I’m just trying to go pee. We already get that everywhere. Everywhere. Can I please use the restroom at my workplace, which is several floors away from anything related to sales or marketing or advertising, without someone trying to sell me fucking cosmetics? Please? Is nothing sacred anymore?
The fact that it’s makeup, of course, doesn’t help matters much. Makeup is primarily marketed to women as a way to “correct” or “improve” our actual appearance. I wear minimal makeup, but the makeup I wear most frequently is worn for these purposes. I succumb, even though I know better. I wear concealer under my eyes, and a little mascara. Even though my husband rolls his eyes when he sees me putting these on my face, this is actually minimal when you consider what’s marketed to us. We’re supposed to be using a special type of face wash, following it with moisturizer, then, of course, there is concealer to hide the problem spots, followed by foundation, to hide the ugly ways that women’s skin can look when it’s natural (men’s skin must be naturally perfect, or they’re held to lower standards, since no one bothers to tell them they need these products). After that, we apply a little blush (more if it’s night) and eyeshadow. Apply eyeliner (again, more if it’s night), then mascara, to lengthen and darken the lashes. This also applies to blonde women, who obviously shouldn’t be seen in public with blonde lashes. Then, you can choose between lipstick and lip gloss. (Let’s not even get into hair.)
I’m a little sad about the state of cosmetics. When I was younger– late high school and a few years afterward– I would often experiment with makeup. I always wore the two core parts I identified– undereye concealer and mascara– but I would go for stretches (usually correlating to recent new haircuts or dye jobs) I would put on a lot of dramatic eyeliner, maybe color my lips a little, or wear blush. It was fun to change my appearance from day to day, and makeup is a socially acceptable way to do that as often as you want.
If makeup was marketed as a way to have fun and be spontaneous with one’s appearance (note I said one’s appearance; men should also have the social freedom to use cosmetics if they wish), then I’m all for it. But the reality is, it’s not. And the shit in the Avon catalogs is sold as corrections, with the occasional heavily discounted perfume.
So, I hate the presence of these catalogs, and I’ve been throwing them away regularly. Today, however, after feeling dismayed that they continued to show up, I decided to take them with me. Once I got to my desk, a coworker pointed out that the person’s name listed on the back didn’t even work on our floor. Actually, it was a couple. Mr. & Mrs. So & So, and their address and phone number.
Neither of these people work on our floor!!
Someone, or these two, just go up and down the elevator, littering the bathrooms with their fucking advertisements, a few times a week. That’s even more infuriating than the idea of someone I might know wondering if I might help her out and buy some of Avon’s crap.
My plan is to collect the catalogs and alter them. I’ve started, with red pen, refuting all of the catalog’s claims about the various products, and drawing pictures and giving advice like, “drink water for soft skin, this product doesn’t actually do anything,” and things like that. I plan to amass a ton of them, and then eventually begin replacing the new ones with my more accurate versions.
The plan nearly sounds sinister. What do you think? Wrong environment to fight the imperialist patriarchal beauty standards of capitalist white supremacists, or something? Maybe I should just ignore them?
No. See, I think I’m doing a good thing. When I’m in the bathroom, I’m there to pee, not shop. Thanks and all, but get your shit out of my bathroom. (Pun not originally intended, but realized just prior to completion of the sentence… and ultimately deemed worthy of permanence.)
I get that the happy little couple wants to make a little extra money. My employer pays everyone far less than their competitors, and that’s well-known in the building. But leave your fellow worker bees the hell alone. And I’m not buying any more of your kids’ Girl Scout cookies or Christmas tins, either. I get harassed enough as soon as I walk out the damn building door; I don’t need you asking for my money, too.