On Glossier’s Ribbon

Claire Carusillo
Racked

The Black Tie Set add-on isn’t just packaging, it’s a gift. Of packaging.

Despite not fulfilling the criteria for the club, I still consider myself a dewy-ass Glossier girl, in that I’ve bought every single one of their cosmetics. And also the sweatshirt. Also, when I’m going through airport security, I use the pink bubble pouch in lieu of one of those Zip Loc bags for high, dry, and unglossy people.

But no longer! As a human woman in a Glossier world that doesn’t quite require me to wake up like this, but to look like this in five minutes or less, it’s irresponsible to not wield the privileges I have. I will no longer be silent. Here’s a verbatim read of the description for the $50 Glossier Black Tie Set, a holiday box of treats:

Introducing four (new!) limited edition makeup staples designed for special occasion glow: the No. 1 Pencil eyeliner in soft black Graphite, Haloscope highlighter in opalescent Moonstone glaze, ultra glassy clear Lip Gloss, our trademark pink for nails, and a silky black ribbon to wear as you wish — in your hair, around your neck, wherever! A very Glossier party look, which also makes a most excellent gift for the people you’re partying with.

Eyeliner: okay, cool, whatever. Never really learned how to do it.

Highlighter: very gorgeous. Very That Wet Look (ahem, merch line here).

Lip gloss: fine, I guess? My lips are too small to wear anything glossy. I just look like I’m sweating from my almost nonexistent cupid’s bow.

Nail polish: great. No qualms here.

A silky black ribbon to wear as you — in your hair, around your neck, wherever!

No.

I realize that the boxing experience is important to brand experience. According to my colleague Nicola P. Fumo (I made up that initial because she doesn’t have a middle name but I was trying to add gravitas) on this very same website:

The stakes are even higher, and the reward even greater, for an online-only company like Glossier, where the shipping box is a customer's first physical contact with the brand. Before a shopper can get to the actual thing they paid for — and likely have never seen in the flesh — they'll work through tape, tissue, bubble wrap, an itemized receipt, and protective sleeves. These prosaic necessities ensure the purchase arrives in fine condition, but they can also be a vehicle for the brand to express its identity.

OMG, Nicola, so smart!

A “ribbon” is fine for an Instagrammable unboxing experience, but please, Glossier, I beg you don’t advertise “a silky black ribbon to wear as you wish” as a product you’re retailing. And I’m not mad because you can find 50 yards of “silky black ribbon” on Amazon for $11.21 or probably in any garbage can around the holiday season for $0.00 after a Friendsgiving (kill me) or a coworker secret santa (suicide pact). The price isn’t even the point, though it’s kind of the point!

The point is that we are accepting that items which are virtually free are valuable when a cool person arbitrarily affixes status to them. This is bigger than Evian, bigger than meditation apps, bigger than Jesus. This is the next step of the “no makeup makeup look,” which I’ve long maintained is too aspirational even for a professional face washer like me to attain.

To wear “no makeup” is to already have a perfect looking face, free of acne or discoloration, usually with Anglo features, usually with cheekbones, usually with unrealistically full eyebrows. So to look as if I don’t wear any makeup, I spent hundreds of dollars on cosmetics that achieve That Wet Look. The deeper we get into political and personal misery, the more solace I find in cosmetics. I truly believe the world, or at least the internet I hang out on, is beginning to consider wearing makeup a feminist-lite act, but not if I use more than three or four products.

And now I have to wear a silken black ribbon in my hair as a casual act, as if it isn’t aided and abetted by a placenta hair mask, dry shampoo, and upward of seven bobby pins. Silken black ribbons, once the province of princess-core toddlers and fussy queens like Blair Waldorf, is now for girls who look good in flared leg jeans. This is adjacent to another theory I have called The Madewell Effect, in that I can wear jeans and sneakers and look like an eighth grader on a trip to DC, but when a Madewell girl does it, she looks relaxed, if not exactly effortless.

Picture me rolling up to a holiday party, against my will, like maybe at Grimes’s or Lola Kirke’s apartment or something. Maybe Emily Ratajkowski’s. You probably don’t know what I look like, but just picture a vaguely human looking girl wearing a ton of makeup. I’m wearing the Glossier Black Tie ribbon around my neck, like a fucking horror story. Everyone’s like That’s a weird look? Scarves are usually girthier and I’m like It’s a silky black ribbon to wear as I wish––in my hair, around my neck, wherever!

But it doesn’t work that! I’m always wearing makeup and I’m always sausaging myself into jeans and I’m only wearing these sneakers because the backs of my ankles are chapped and bloody from taking all the energy I have left to propel my body forward, sweating under my parka instead of radiating a glow that only like five or six of 157 million American women produce.

I’m tired enough from sticking my neck out; I don’t want to have to tie it up in a bow, too.