Are These Eyeshadow Palettes Sexist?

A photo posted by @random_girliness01 on

We're all for cleverly named products — in fact, we may or may not gravitate toward scandalous monikers. But it looks like TheBalm Cosmetics is learning that what some may deem cheeky can quickly veer into "what the hell" territory. The brand is catching flak for its popular eyeshadow palettes, Nude 'tude and Nude Dude. The products include illustrations of naked women and half-naked men, respectively, covered up by pots of powder eyeshadow. While they may seem harmless at first glance, if you look closer you'll notice the descriptions for men and women are pretty different. The shade names for the women include adjectives like "Sassy," "Snobby," and "Selfish," while the men are given overwhelmingly positive labels like "Fearless," "Flawless," and "Funny." And while the females do have some slightly more encouraging (albeit, mostly appearance-focused) names, like "Sophisticated" and "Sexy," the difference is jarring and, frankly, disappointing. One Instagram user, who posted a side-by-side image of the palettes before deleting it, wrote: "Two reasons why I didn't buy this eyeshadow today: 1. I'm broke, and 2. I thought the descriptive words for the men versus the descriptive words for the women were slightly...rude? Can we replace 'stubborn' and 'standoffish' with 'smart' or 'strong?'" We hear her on that one. Some Twitter users echoed the sentiment. Savannah M said, "I have long loved products by @thebalm, but seeing the pretty sexist packaging on their nude palettes makes me not ever want to buy again." Lotus Ling said, "Okay, @thebalm @theBalmEU, your line Nude 'tude is an insult. I'm shocked that you'd make a woman's product insulting women. #Misogyny." Brand president Marissa Shipman responded to the allegations in an email statement, explaining: "Nude 'tude is about attitude and being able to express yourself however you want (as that is the name of the palette). Nude Dude came two years later (the name came about primarily because it rhymes with 'Nude 'tude'), and this is more about qualities we feel naked men should have." She added: "As a brand, we strive to maintain a light-hearted approach, and always position women in the driver’s seat...It saddens us that we approach product after product with our sassy twist on women empowerment and this was taken so out of context (we even have a blush brush called “Women Empowderment”). In any event, it’s never our intention to upset or offend anyone." What do you guys think? Are these palettes borderline sexist or no big deal? Sound off in the comments.

More from Makeup

R29 Original Series