Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Got any bruises from your last beating? Here’s how to hide them with makeup!

On November 23rd, 2M TV aired a makeup tutorial segment featured on their morning TV show Sabahyate. It is safe to say that usually, makeup tutorials do not get a lot of attention in the mainstream media or create any uproar. Although, this time, the tutorial went viral on the Internet and numerous newspapers published articles about it.

In the video, the makeup artist explains how to hide traces of domestic violence and demonstrates how to effectively apply concealer and foundation on bruises. While the artist is applying cosmetics on a woman’s fake bruises and marks, she and the host casually make the following statements, among other advice:
Make sure to use loose powder to fix the makeup, so if you have to work throughout the day, the bruises don’t show.
After the beating, this part is still sensitive, so don’t press.
We hope that these beauty tips help you carry on with your normal life. (The Washington Post)
2M is Morocco’s national TV channel owned by the Government of Morocco. According to 2M TV's website, they wish to promote gender equality and the deconstruction of gender stereotypes in their programs and policies. 2M even has publicly available guidelines in which they acknowledge the  national channel’s impact on Moroccan society and commit to value and present women’s image in a way that advocates for gender equality.

The show aired two days prior to the UN’s international day for the elimination of violence against women. Apparently, Sabahyate’s decision makers thought it would be timely and appropriate to broadcast a tutorial about hiding traces of violence. However, as soon as the segment was posted on the Internet, social media responded rather virulently. Moroccan people, as well as others, wrote outraged Tweets and posts. More than 3,000 people signed the Change.org ‘Don’t cover domestic violence with makeup’ petition that was launched in reaction to the segment. The petitioners wrote:
As Moroccan women and as feminist activists in Morocco, and in the name of all Moroccan people, we denounce the message of normalization with violence against women.
Two days after the show aired, on the international day for the elimination of violence against women, 2M released a statement on their Facebook page. The channel thanked the citizens who showed their vigilance through social media and explained:
Management believes that this segment is completely inappropriate and displays a lack of editorial understanding due to the sensitivity and seriousness of the subject of violence against women.
This approach is in total contradiction with the editorial identity of the channel and […] the commitment of 2M for 27 years in favor of the defense of women’s rights.
Considering the media’s influence and role as a national TV channel, it is somehow comforting to see that 2M reacted quickly and issued this apology statement – or 'clarification' as they named it. It is also somehow uplifting to witness social media’s force as a positive tool to denounce this type of insidious message. Perhaps this internet buzz could lead to more awareness about the issue of normalized violence, in a similar way to the Salvation's Army's ad campaign in which they used the Dressgate buzz to condemn abuse against women (more on this in this blog post).

Violence against women and domestic violence are sadly common phenomena. In Morocco, a 2015 national report found that almost two out of three women have suffered from gender violence. Of these two-thirds, 55% reported conjugal violence. In the US, according to The Huffington Post’s statistics, one in four women will be victims of severe violence by an intimate partner in their lifetimes, and a woman is beaten every nine seconds. These shocking statistics highlight how critical it is to raise awareness, to reject violence in any form and to take action. The makeup tutorial made violence look like it was an acceptable part of a woman’s everyday life. The show’s promotion of concealing bruises contributed to victim-shaming instead of blaming the person responsible for the beating. The video made it seem normal to camouflage bruises as part of a beauty routine. It is absolutely not normal and should not be presented as such.

6 comments:

Louise Trainor said...

Flamingo, I am absolutely shocked by the advert described in this post! It is sickening to see domestic violence against women being normalized like this on national television. The non-chalant language in the advert such as "...make sure to use loose powder" is making a mockery out of these women who are enduring physical and emotional torture. Some consolation lies in the backlash of the Moroccan citizens against Sabahyate.

Sadly this is not the first time we are seeing domestic violence being down-played. We all recall the media outcry that followed Chris Brown's assault on girlfriend at the time, Rihanna. What impacted me the most was that she took him back shortly after the attack. She attempted to justify her decision in a recent article, revealing that "I felt people just didn't understand him". See

Louise Trainor said...

Apologies, the site didn't link in my previous comment:
http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/rihanna-explains-why-she-got-back-with-chris-brown-after-assault-2015610

Louise Trainor said...

Apologies, the site didn't link in my previous comment:
http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-news/news/rihanna-explains-why-she-got-back-with-chris-brown-after-assault-2015610

Josie Zimmermann said...

I keep coming back to this, trying to come up with a response to this, but I really can't organize thoughts. It's just astonishing that anyone could try to say a segment on hiding the evidence of domestic violence was timely and appropriate in light of International Day of Eliminating Violence Against Women. I still can't quite come up with intelligent response. That's just so disgusting.

Julie Maguire said...

Flamingo,

The shock that this has evoked in me is indescribable. How a government-run channel could broadcast such horrifying and blatantly sexist messages is beyond me. I am trying to comprehend the reasoning behind the segment and I am greatly struggling.

There seems to be a general culture that to domestic violence is to be hidden as it is a thing to be ashamed of. This article reports that many Pakistani women are unable to come forward with stories of abuse as they fear society will deem them as "worthless" < http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/04/to-be-a-woman-in-pakistan-six-stories-of-abuse-shame-and-survival/255585/ >

I am reminded of Josey's story in North Country where she returns to her parents house with visible signs that she has been victim to domestic violence. In this scene her father asks her not if she is okay but blames her for the abuse that she has suffered.

Taylor Foland said...

Flamingo,

I had a different response to this video than you and Louise had.

I read your article before watching the video. I naively presumed that the video was made in opposition of gender based violence, or with defiance in mind. (Perhaps because it seemed unfathomable to me that someone would make a video like this in earnest) Turning something as common as a makeup tutorial into an expose of domestic violence could be a powerful awakening for many people. An everyday viewer of makeup tutorials might click on the video, believing it to be an uncontroversial space of eyeshadows, concealers, and foundation. Once engaged, they would be forced to confront a very real alternative use for makeup: to hide the physical evidence of abuse and violence. Through this lens, the video is intense, real, and meaningful. Shocking, yes, but also evoking reflection from the viewer who may or may not be aware that many women do this on a day to day basis.

Of course, what I didn't realize initially was the sincerity behind the video. This was an actual tutorial for hiding scars of domestic violence. The motive and execution is repulsive. Requesting that women cover their scars is certainly cause for reprimand, but I believe the topics this video brings up warrant further discussion.

Women should not have to cover their scars or hide their abuse, but the reality is that many women do. Abusive relationships - especially physical ones - are incredibly complex. Women often experience intense shame surrounding the abuse. They may believe (wrongly) that they have done something to elicit this behaviour out of their partner, or are persuaded each time that it will never happen again.

Moreover, the reactions to abuse vary greatly. For some, there is a period of denial or hiding, sometimes characterized by using makeup to cover up signs of abuse. These women should not be deemed less than or wrong for doing so. The reality is, makeup is used in this way, and perhaps some people need to realize that. Showing the tools used to hide abuse might in turn illuminate the problem to those who do not see it.

That being said, it is so important that we create a space that encourages women to talk about their abuse and tell others so that they be free of such violence. To this end, the video fails miserably. Like you said, it normalizes using makeup to camouflage bruises. Had a video been made including a statement with resources for women experiencing abuse or a genuine story from someone who uses/used makeup in this way, its reception may have been different. Overall, the entire video was unacceptable, but there could have been a way to use this platform - a makeup tutorial - to make a powerful statement.

A video of a similar sort could bring to light a use of makeup that many men and women don't realize exists. I certainly hadn't thought of it until a close friend of mine revealed that she had just gotten out of a physically abusive relationship. She had covered up her bruises with makeup and I never suspected a thing. It pains me to think that any media source would promote this kind of behaviour, and delay my friend from getting the help she needed. I understand why she covered up, though, and I believe that a video explaining this reality could be incredibly powerful. Unfortunately, that was not the video that 2M released.

Even more unfortunate, I think, is the response from 2M. Admission of wrongdoing does nothing to rectify the situation in my opinion. Where was the follow up video delving deeper into the situation? Where were links to resources for women experiencing violence? These are easy things 2M could have done in the wake of their error to provide a minuscule amount of relief. Instead, they hailed their historical track record championing women without doing anything to serve those negatively affected by their blunder. Their response is shallow and lacking.

Thank you for bringing my attention to this video and issue, Flamingo.