Maybelline Great Lash Mascara 50th Anniversary


The “romantic lie” is what French socialist René Girard calls the assumption that whatever we desire comes from the heart. It is the idea that desire is independent and is not influenced by the opinions of others.

This is, of course, wrong. According to Girard, our desires are mimetic, that is, they are shaped and influenced by the choices of the people around us. Girard calls them models. According to Luke Burgis, the author of Wanting: the power of mimetic desire in everyday life, desire models are “people we turn to for information on what to want (usually without knowing it)”. And then there is the metaphysical desire, the desire of someone else’s desire. It has nothing to do with a specific object, like a car or a house, Burgis says. “It’s about being a certain way. It’s about identity.”

Glamor could be seen as a metaphysical desire. According to Virginia Postrel, author of The power of glamor, “Glamor is not something you own, but something you perceive.” It is someone else’s fantasy who wants you and it gives you the illusion of power.

When Maybelline Great Lash mascara Launched in 1971, all of these factors were in play. The mascara was an instant hit, says Jessica Feinstein, senior vice president of marketing at Maybelline New York. Fifty years later, it’s still one of their best-selling products. The beauty industry has exploded lately, and every two days it feels like three new brands appear. In such a saturated market, how has Maybelline’s Great Lash remained so culturally relevant?

Maybelline large lash mascara
Maybelline large lash mascara

Victorian-era artists painted their wives with ridiculously long eyelashes, and by the 20th century the idea of ​​using mascara to enhance her bangs was gaining popularity in the United States. As the story goes, in 1915 Thomas Lyle Williams, a Chicago entrepreneur, noticed his sister Mabel mixing petroleum jelly and charcoal dust to darken her eyelashes. Inspired by creating a product that would enhance eyelashes without the effort of DIY, Williams developed a cake mascara that consisted of two parts: a dose of mascara product and a small brush. He started sending orders and named his company Maybelline, after his sister (Mabel) and his must-have beauty product (Vaseline). Decades later, Great Lash was introduced. “It was the first automatic water-based mascara,” says Feinstein, “making it much easier to remove than other mascaras of the time, which were wax-based.”

Maybelline large lash mascara

The rise of Maybelline mascaras was set against a backdrop of rising media and Hollywood. In the 1940s, cinemas and celebrities were everywhere. “Movie theaters have reached almost every American city,” writes Geoffrey Jones in Imagined beauty, “spreading new lifestyles and creating a new celebrity culture around movie stars who have exerted a powerful influence on the way beauty, especially female beauty, has been defined.” Big screen actresses wore eye makeup for their roles, and women watching in their hometowns began to emulate the looks they saw on movie stars like Joan Crawford and Merle Oberon. The 1950s also saw the use of celebrity power and new forms of advertising to influence the desire for dark lashes. “The first makeup ads that people watched during their TV dinners were Maybelline ads,” says Feinstein.

Desire models transform the objects before our eyes. Burgis describes how it works, below:

Say you walk into a consignment store with a friend and see shelves full of hundreds of shirts. Nothing jumps out at you. But by the time your friend falls in love with a particular shirt, it doesn’t. is more of a shirt on a shelf. This is now the shirt your friend Molly has chosen – the Molly who, by the way, is a costume assistant on the sets of big movies. As soon as she starts watching a movie. shirt, she makes it out. It’s a different shirt than it was five seconds ago, before she started wanting it. “

It’s the same with mascara. The desire to look a certain way or use a certain product is never really ours; the influence of others whom we admire or respect plays an important role.

Maybelline large lash mascara

The economic conditions of 1971 certainly helped too. “Any society in which people no longer struggle with scarcity but in the face of abundance will experience an explosion of mimetic desire,” says Burgis. In the same year, the first Walt Disney theme park was launched, Starbucks opened its first store, and Nike’s signature swoosh was created. Think about these three brands: they each have a logo that’s probably imprinted in your memory. There are several factors that go into branding, but for Maybelline’s Great Lash, color psychology was key.

Complementary colors (opposing colors on the color wheel) turn ordinary objects into objects that grab your attention. Together, the two colors create a visual tension that catches the eye and attracts the viewer. The complementary color of pink is lime green.

Maybelline large lash mascara

The choice of color combination was also inspired by Lilly pulitzer, says Feinstein. Pulitzer herself was a model of desire and her brand was a status symbol it was something that money cannot buy, regardless of whether you can afford the clothes, or in this case, the mascara. He represented the illusion of glamor, a metaphysical desire that remains elusive. It is not something we want as much as the life it promises.


Long eyelashes open the eyes, evoking both mystery and invitation. The doe-eye effect of the long flowing eyelashes is related to the “baby face”, which is related to “personality traits such as honesty, frankness, warmth, naivety and kindness.” Babyface enhances the appeal of qualities considered feminine, increasing the value of beauty and attracting the attention of men.

In The deception, the desire and the romance, Girard affirms that “to imitate the desire of his lover, it is to desire oneself, thanks to the desire of this lover. This particular form of double mediation is called “coquetry”. The coquette does not want to surrender to the desire she arouses, but if she did not provoke it, she would not feel so precious. “According to the thesis of Nancy Ann Rudd in Cosmetics, consumption and use in women, the glamorous ritual of buying mascara, applying it, and arousing desire in others and yourself has given women a way to “enhance their personal identity building” while giving them a sense of individuality. of “cultural power and social action in a postmodern world”.

Maybelline large lash mascara

Mimetic desire generates mimetic desire. An internal Maybelline study found that about 13% of social posts on Great Lash mentioned his iconic status. “Great Lash Mascara is one of those products that is passed down from generation to generation,” says Feinstein. “The iconic pink and green tube is a staple in your mom, grandmother and sister’s beauty bag, and sparks special stories about the ‘first’ product you bought and used.”

Iconic brands remain so because of their ability to build a link with culture. Even though Maybelline’s Great Lash mascara performs, that’s not what gives it that iconic value. It’s what the brand stands for that gets the job done. These abstract ideas are delivered to us in the form of a hot green and pink tube and they are reinforced by the ideology that surrounds it.

Rather than crumble due to changing cultural tides over the past 50 years, Great Lash has only grown stronger. Its myth is linked to family heritage, the importance of passing on an object through the generations and glamor. These are values ​​that are intimately linked to the brand and with each stroke, there is a trace of hope that we will be able to reincarnate them for ourselves.

Maybelline large lash mascara

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