Appearing to act younger: the face of Avon

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Publication details

Cooke, G 2010, 'Appearing to act younger: the face of Avon', Transformations, Issue 18.

Article available on Open Access

Peer Reviewed



In Avon’s Australian “Summer Beauty” catalogue for 2004, the following sentence is used to describe Anew Pure 02 Oxygenating Cream: “Rejuvi-cell Complex makes surface skin cells appear to act younger.” Another advertisement in the same catalogue describes a product – Hydrofirming Bio6 Eye Cream – using language that gives rise to similar questions: “’Smart-sensing’ technology re-programmes the skin and trains it to moisturise itself.” This paper proceeds from an analysis of the rhetoric of these advertisements, to a discussion of the wider cultural implications of such rhetoric. Bernadette Wegenstein argues, in Getting Under the Skin, that recent representations of the face in advertising media have shifted their emphasis from the face as locus of identity and over-coding, to the skin and organs, which take over from the face as “windows to the soul.” For Wegenstein, any organ or body part can now act as surface, and can give access to an imagined interior. While it would appear that Avon’s advertisements could fit within this model, a number of questions remain: What does it mean that the face is superseded by the skin, which is then deemed to be programmable and artificial? How does this technologization of the face and skin relate to notions of the cyborg and post-human “subject,” and to post-structuralist celebrations of fluid and changing “identities”? And, crucially, what is the interest of capitalist enterprise in producing such a subject?....

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