While growing up I always watched the Maybelline commercials that would come on television. There were always women in these commercials with exotic eyes and skin that appeared flawless. Even going into cities I see billboards that advertise Maybelline products and have, what society considers, beautiful women in the advertisements, and we always hear the slogan: “Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline.” We experience sign symbols everyday of our lives, this is the study of semiotics (Griffin, 323). Semiotic signs are always being used, when we see Maybelline in advertising we think that these products are what will make a woman beautiful.
T.L Williams creates the Maybelline Company in 1915; he named the company after his sister Maybel, from where he got the idea to create a product to darken eyelashes. By 1970 Maybelline not only had eye products but also lips, face, and nail products. In 1991, “Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline.” advertising slogan is created and still used today all around the world. In America Maybelline becomes the number one cosmetic product in 2000. 2001 Maybelline becomes the number one cosmetic brand in Australia. By 2002 Maybelline has become the number one cosmetic brand in the world. Today Maybelline is still the number one cosmetic brand in the world and is used in over 90 countries (“Maybelline: Our history” ). When we see the advertisements for Maybelline, they try to make us believe that women are not beautiful unless they use this particular brand of makeup, and the makeup is so perfectly natural looking that people will think that it is natural beauty and not beauty that has been painted on.
The use of Maybelline products has created the sign symbol of beauty. The symbolic sign of Maybelline makeup always refers back to beauty. According to Roland Barthes a sign is the inseparable combination of the signifier and the signified (Griffin, 324). One example is that the signifier, being the physical form of the sign or the images we are seeing, would be the women shown who come off as naturally beautiful and that the way they look is what should be desired by women all over the world (Griffin, 324). The signified, being the meaning we associate with the sign, which in this case is beauty (Griffin, 324). The sign that we get from this is that if women wear the Maybelline brand cosmetics they will become beautiful and that is what women are suppose to be is beautiful, as we are told in society. The understanding of semiotics is significant because everybody has a different perceptive of signs. This refers back to Barthes connotative myth (Griffin, 324).
Semiotic signs are being used everywhere, even if we are not always aware of it. We especially see semiotic signs in advertising; it is a part of our everyday lives so that companies can sell their products. What we do have to realize is that what these companies tell us is not exactly true, “Maybe she’s born with it. Maybe it’s Maybelline.” this does not mean that if every woman wears Maybelline products that they are going to become beautiful instantly by societies terms and people will think that it is “natural beauty.” We need to be aware of semiotic signs since they are used in our everyday lives, it is definitely an interesting part of our lives and we can learn a lot from them.
Griffen, E. (2009). A first look at communication theory. Ryan, Michael (Ed.), Symbolic interactionism of george herbert mead (pp.323-327). New York, NY: Mcgraw-Hill
Maybelline: Our history. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.maybelline.com.au/ABOUT_US/Our_History.aspx