‘Is America Ready for a Frank Discussion About Skincare?’

“Moisture is the essence of wetness, and wetness is the essence of beauty.” —Derek Zoolander

Clickbait ads disguised as real news stories are quite common. So if you saw the following headline, “Is America ready for a frank discussion about skincare?” in Politico would you not be correct in assuming this was yet another clickbait ad? Probably so except for the fact that you can see a photo of Elizabeth Warren next to the headline. So is it a real story or is it a skincare ad disguised as a news story that somehow got Warren to participate in the hype? Well, actually it turned out to be a real news story but one that comes off as vapid as any skincare promotion.

The Sunday skincare story by Joanna Weiss reveals how Cosmopolitan magazine hooked the Democrat presidential candidates into answering the all-important skincare question:

As the 2020 presidential campaign approached, the editors of Cosmopolitan gathered to discuss how to cover the race, delivering political news in a manner befitting their audience of millennial and Generation Z women. They hatched an ambitious plan to make Cosmo a part of the conversation: invite each candidate in for a half-hour video interview with Jessica Pels, the magazine’s editor. From a tufted velvet chair atop an animal-print rug, Pels grilled the candidates on issues that had bubbled to the top of reader surveys, from health care to college debt to equal pay. And at the very end—a standard time to ask light, personal questions that knock politicians off their talking points—she posed the same query to everyone: “What is your skincare routine?”

Ah! You’re so sneaky, Cosmo. Ask the boring policy questions first before getting around to hitting the candidates with the crucial skincare question. Journalism at its finest as revealed by Politico.

The “famous Cosmo skincare question,” as it has become known, has gone viral more than once this election cycle, thanks to some eye-popping answers. In October, an uncharacteristically flummoxed Pete Buttigieg declared that he washes his face with soap and doesn’t moisturize—drawing a gentle rebuke from Pels and a correction from Buttigieg’s husband, who tweeted a photo of the moisturizer they keep at home. In January, a far more confident Elizabeth Warren announced that the only product she uses is Pond’s Dry Skin Cream and that, based on some 50-year-old advice from her cousin Tootsie, she never washes her face. The internet exploded with reactions, from praise of Warren’s preternaturally smooth complexion to fact-checks from dermatologists, prompting one political reporter to tweet, “Politics Twitter is Skincare Twitter today.”

BREAKING NEWS! Is Pete Buttigieg covering up the fact that he uses a skin moisturizer? Cosmo and Politico investigative journalists are hot on the trail uncovering the facts. Weiss then touted Cosmo worrying about how to “destigmatize” makeup and skincare for male political candidates:

Pels says Cosmo was determined to ask its skincare question to every candidate, male and female. When Bernie Sanders said he wasn’t sure if he moisturized, Pels offered to send him home with some free samples. ‘I do think we’re headed for a cultural time when I think we will destigmatize makeup for everyone—it will be OK for women to care about it and it will also be OK for men to care about it,’ she says. ‘That’s what equality is, you know?'” Weiss wrote.

I’m sure that Bernie Sanders has now put universal skin moisturization towards the top of his political agenda. We await this crucial issue to be addressed at a future candidate debate hosted by Politico.

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