To me, the message CoverGirl is sending is perfectly clear. It is not “#GirlsCan do anything.” The message is “I want your money and I am prepared to say and sell anything to get it.”
CoverGirl is not unique in the slightest by sending this message. Any company with something to sell wants you to buy it, and the majority are prepared to do anything in the name of marketing. The SPARKteam recently talked about the Aerie ad campaign, whose ‘body positive’ gimmick was to leave their models untouched-up. It created quite a stir, which was of course its aim, but what did it actually do for media’s unattainable standards of beauty? Not much: their untouched models were majority thin, pale and without a single physical blemish; the standards of beauty they promoted were not any less attainable. If it boosts sales, a company will say or do almost anything.
CoverGirl, as a company, is not interested in girl’s empowerment. That doesn’t mean that their campaigns (or the people who run them) don’t have good effects—some of the people behind these campaigns may even be feminists. But CoverGirl is not a person with thoughts and feelings. CoverGirl as company doesn’t care about girls being plagued by unhealthy eating and body dysmorphia because of unattainable beauty standards; CoverGirl as a company does not care how many girls don’t go into STEM subjects because of the anti-female environment; CoverGirl as a company doesn’t care how many girls end up realising their dreams to be a comedian despite being told “girls can’t be funny.” CoverGirl is a company, not a person—its first and last concern is what impacts their sales.”