I, a twenty-nine-year-old white woman, am firmly convinced that my obsession with skin care constitutes radical political activism.
Everyone knows that self-care is a crucial part of being an activist. As Audre Lorde writes in A Burst of Light, “caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Inspired by this call for radical self-care, I have decided to take my skin-care routine seriously as a form of activism.
Living with cancer, Lorde wrote powerfully about self-care as resistance to oppression. As I near thirty, I have begun to experience the prospect of visibly aging as a form of oppression. That is why I now consider the struggle against fine lines to be a revolutionary act of political warfare.
In the age of Trump, everyone needs to find ways to stay engaged in the #resistance. I stay engaged by centering myself, and specifically, my skin, as a site of revolutionary activism. That is why I routinely spend hundreds of dollars on K-Beauty products to boost collagen production in my face. The reassurance that I am preventing blemishes and reducing inflammation gives me the strength to contemplate the ongoing injustices of colonialism, racism, and misogyny.
I follow the example of Lorde and other black feminist writers, who describe self-care as integral to the struggle for liberation. I feel liberated by knowing that I can maintain my youthful complexion well into my thirties through a strict daily regime of eye creams, retinoids, and moisturizers.
I used to think that it was important to go to rallies and march in the streets, but now I know that I can stay home and try the latest Sephora hydrocolloid sheet mask and still agitate for the revolution. Instead of protesting abortion bans, police shootings, climate change, or immigration policy, I now focus my efforts on attaining microscopic pores through copious use of exfoliants, cleaners, and serums.
Critics might say that my skin-care obsession is just about feckless consumerism, not revolutionary activism. But skin care can take many forms, only most of which involve purchasing the full line of Glossier products online. Getting plenty of sleep, staying hydrated, and avoiding the sun are also all ways that I keep my skin wrinkle-free and engage in political warfare. We all need to find ways to resist the pressures of late capitalism, and organic clay facemasks are my form of anti-capitalist protest.