Kendall Jenner and Elle King are both pretty indisputably cool. They are both kicking ass and taking names in their respective industries and have huge fan bases. It’s no wonder that Estée Lauder would want to create an ad around the two of them. However, the finished product is kind of problematic.
The campaign was teased by Jenner on Instagram and released this week. Instead of your usual glossy makeup ad that has a celebrity soullessly pushing the life-changing magic of a cosmetic product that they probably don’t use, this Estée Lauder ad is a little more playful and relaxed, which is nice to get. The short film might even be a play on brands insisting that this or that product will help us do things that are simply impossible, like defying age or getting Selena Gomez’s hair from a Pantene rinse — because, in the ad, Jenner steals King’s voice by swiping on some of her lipstick.
After King ditches Jenner to go to the studio, leaving her to clean up after a party by herself (oh no, Jenner had to pour some crushed chips out of a bowl into the trash!). Jenner finds King’s Estée Lauder Pure Color Love Lipstick and puts it on. Meanwhile, in the studio, King is belting out her new single, “Wild Love.” But as Jenner starts to lip sync around her lavish bachelorette pad, King starts to croak while her friend pushes buttons on the sound board and looks at her like, “Girl….” In the end, King realizes that her secret weapon lipstick is gone and rushes back to Jenner’s place (unrealistically fast through Los Angeles traffic) to take back what’s hers. Then King sashays away and quips, “You’ve got enough going on.”
But why does Elle King have to get Ursala’d?
As refreshing as it is to see an ad with a sense of humor — and shots of King struggling in the sound booth are adorably comedic — it just seems kind of fucked up that King is used as a foil for Jenner. Advertising has historically ostracized and excluded curvy women, especially for products like makeup and clothes. So, the fact that someone else had to sing King’s song in order for her to appear in the ad just feels a little sinister. Yes, Jenner is the model and the official face of Estée Lauder’s cosmetics; it makes sense that she would be the one modeling the lipstick. But is it so out there that King could also model?
To top it off, the idea that Jenner, an obscenely wealthy daughter of one of the most famous families today, who waltzed into a career in an industry that is notoriously hard to break into (not to say that Jenner doesn’t work very hard, but most models never have the doors opened for them that Jenner did when she started out) stealing something from King just feels icky. Maybe that’s the hack and I’m a humorless bitch, but I’m just ready to see advertising that isn’t transparently phobic of any body type that isn’t a size 00.
Would you let Kendall Jenner steal your voice to be in a makeup ad? Tell us in the comments!
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