They also, evidently, sometimes harbor hundreds of thousands of fans who don’t like it when it might be suggested that their intentions are not pure (or even just complex). After my byline appeared under the headline, “Was Pamela Anderson’s Makeup-Free Fashion Week Just a Stunt?,” I noticed a faint, unpleasant rumbling of discontent on Instagram which very soon exploded into an overwhelming stink of rage aimed at me for doubting the nobility of Anderson’s intentions. The gist was: You are a hater, leave her alone, she’s doing something great for womanhood, how dare you suggest she’s playing on our devotion. Also, I couldn’t help but notice a kind of name-calling to which I’d never been subjected. (Think of the worst thing you could call someone. Then think of things you’d never call someone. All those things.)
That might’ve been (for me, at least) the sad end of this tale until news broke a couple of weeks ago that Anderson had “officially entered the beauty space,” by buying, with her sons, the skin-care line Sonsie. I wondered, then, if some of the fans who defended her felt a little like when you suspect your partner might be having an affair, which they deny, and then you discover on their credit card bill they’ve bought an engagement ring for another person. In other words, betrayed?
If you trust the responses on Instagram to that news, some of her fans did feel betrayed — So it was just all about money, Still using beauty standards for her own wallet and benefit — but many found no issue with it. The woman deserves to make a living! What’s the big deal? So: Was Anderson’s no-makeup look a big con? I just realized I’ve spent a long time to get to my point, which is, Does anyone really give a sh*t?
I think what the response to all of it demonstrates is that marketing, and maybe especially beauty marketing, is so baked into our culture that we don’t even know or care whether we’re being conned or sold out. When nearly everyone with a social media account is selling something — at the very least a curated version of their life — why would we object to being manipulated by a performer?
And in the case of Pamela Anderson, a performer who’s in the very public process of trying to redefine herself? Her most recent incarnation portrays her as a back-to-basics kind of gal, aiming for simplicity and clean-living. “My name gives [even] me a false impression of myself,” she said, on our recent call. She was, of course, bare-faced as far as I could tell, in a comfy-looking white robe, with her hair pulled back messily. “Without context my name [suggests] a wrong image. I’ve been on this journey, from Playboy to Baywatch — all these Halloween costumes, I like to say — and now come back home to self-love and self-acceptance, I just feel like it’s OK. [What I’m into now] is a conscious choice. I’ve always felt like there’s a little monster inside of me that I need to get out, I need to share. I’ve been trying and I’ve begun to feel closest to it… and it’s peeling back everything and trying to remember what my original thoughts are… It’s not just about makeup, taking off the mask, but it’s about why am I here, what’s my purpose, why do I resonate with people, can I help in any way?”