I was watching TV recently when I saw a commercial that seriously confused me for a minute. The commercial was for Latisse, a new product by the makers of Botox that claims to help one grow longer, thicker, darker eyelashes. For a minute I thought I had accidentally stumbled upon a skit show, but then I remembered that SNL and Mad TV are incapable of doing anything funny or insightful, so I had to consider the possibility that Latisse was a real product, that a major pharmaceutical company had developed a prescription drug for people who are so upset by the paucity and/or hoariness of their eyelashes that they feel they need a DRUG to help them remedy the situation. And then I thought about my own eyelashes, which are fairly pale, and wondered whether I ought to rush myself to the nearest hospital.
This pharmaceutical outfit, Allergan (operating out of Irvine, California — a real shock), claims that their drug treats the legitimate medical problem of hypotrichosis, but I’m a little skeptical. Have you ever heard of hypotrichosis? Yeah, me neither. It’s a scientific term for “a condition of no hair growth” (nice work on the wording there, Wikipedia cooperative). Apparently that’s considered a medical condition, though I can’t imagine why it would be save in very rare circumstances. I’ve always been under the impression that a medical condition was something that caused one physical discomfort, threatened one’s life, or disrupted one’s ability to carry out one’s daily activities. Oh, wait, that’s it: a “condition of no hair growth” in the wrong places can be just as disruptive as a condition of copious hair growth in certain other places, because it threatens one’s ability to comply with the old fuckability mandate.
The product’s website makes frequent reference to hypotrichosis, which indeed does sound terrible (as does anything that ends in -osis), but the company’s product line-up hints that what they’re really trying to treat is notthathotatosis; Allergan, in addition to Latisse, also slangs some injectable anti-wrinkle shit called Juvederm (the slogan for which is “parentheses have their place but not on your face” — I swear), the Natrelle line of breast implants, our old pal Botox, and some line of uber-expensive skin creams called Vivite. Not only do none of their products treat legitimate medical conditions, but they don’t even treat the symptoms of legitimate medical conditions. I mean, I suppose having no eyelashes could be a problem, seeing as they protect one’s eyes from debris and all, but I imagine that the no-eyelashes-at-all contingent makes up a pretty small percentage of this product’s target market. The majority of that target market, I suspect, consists of those women who have been convinced that having a few thousand spider legs for eyelashes is more important than, say, protecting one’s eyes from irritants and chemicals or being able to rub one’s eyes when they itch without having to worry about dumping an ounce or two of mascara flakes into them.
So, you drop your $130 for each month’s supply, smear this shit on once a day, and a mere sixteen weeks and $520 later, your eyelashes may get thicker and darker. Of course, as soon as you stop using Latisse, these benefits will disappear. What a sweet deal. But there has to be a catch, right? No way. Latisse’s side effects are totally mild! They include red and/or itchy eyes (which you’d have anyway due to mascara) and the possibility of skin and iris discoloration. The discoloration is likely to be permanent, but you can always wear eyeshadow to cover it up and get color contacts to restore your natural eye color, right?
Are you fucking kidding me, dude?
This product campaign is just evil. It preys upon women’s insecurities in the most disgusting of ways, creates insane expectations that can’t be met, then hoses women out of huge sums of money. We’ve all gotten the message that, if we can’t naturally grow eyelashes the likes of which mascara models can’t pull together without falsies, we’re blowing it as human beings and will never be able to coquettishly bat the fuckers at men in order to make them stupid. Hence the existence of glue-on eyelashes, eyelash dye (a lovely substance to be sure), eyelash extensions, and the ever-expanding variety of mascaras with absurd patented high-tech names. But now that ain’t enough. Sparse eyelashes now constitute a pathological medical condition (note the frequent use of the phrase “inadequate eyelashes” on the site and in the ad) that requires treatment with expensive drugs that might permanently alter the color of our eyes and eyelids, drugs that might sort of work, but will never create the kinds of eyelashes that don’t require curling, slathering with mascara, and augmenting with false eyelashes. I know this because all of the images on the site and in the ad feature women with an abundance of mascara on.
All of that is sinister enough, but what of this company’s central operating principle and the message that the FDA, in approving these drugs, is putting out there? That principle and message are one and the same: in a nutshell, not being hot enough is a medical condition, and a boner shortage warrants the attentions of our best and brightest scientists (and marketing experts).
I must have missed the news report announcing that we’d cured cancer, AIDS, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s.
Latisse is officially the new Flomax.