[MARKETING] Why Has a YSL lipstick caused a post-feminist debate in China?

A glossy holiday-inspired lipstick embossed with stars packaged in a glittery gold case has become the most wanted product among young girls in China. The YSL Rouge Pur Couture Star Clash Edition has brought on a online feminist fight between women and given birth to two new slang terms:“lipstick bitch” and “cancer of the straight woman”.

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It’s proved to be a successful marketing campaign.The Baidu Index, a service that shows the latest and most search words saw the entry “YSL Star Clash” increase by 786% from September 27th to October 26th,and peak on October 18th with192,836 entries, while the number was around 20,000 before. On the Chinese microblog Weibo, about 10 relevant topics received 10 million comments.

For many Chinese girls, this particular lipstick embodies beauty and romance. If their boyfriends can buy them a Star Clash, these boyfriends are more than perfect. These girls uploaded the screenshots of conversations flaunting their generous and considerate boyfriends buying them Star Clash lipsticks, these are some of the examples:

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These conversations on social media have invited opposition from the feminists in China who question why these women have to ASK their boyfriends for the products that they like. Women should live a financially independent life and not depend on men, the feminists say, “buy things yourself if you can afford it; if not, work hard and try to make more money; don’t just only rely on your men!” A new internet slang, “lipstick bitch”, was corned to describe girls who unapologetically showed off their materialistic needs satisfied by men.

These girls showed off and also stood up against these unfair feminist judgments. “The lipstick only costs 200-300 RMB, it’s not even that expensive,” some argued. Some think that asking their boyfriends for lipsticks is a way to spice up their relationship and there’s nothing wrong with that. They said those who call for female independence are victims of “cancer of the straight woman”, an internet slang term used to describe women who overly judge any feminine behaviour with a classical feminist perspective.

In the end, this is a battle between women.

Some allege that the so-called “lipstick bitch” debate is just YSL’s marketing campaign, and comment:

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“The marketing campaign is so sick! They thought girls now can be so easily taken in by a lipstick.”

YSL brand has become the symbol of romance in China since the country was swept away by the popular Korean drama My Love from the Star, a romantic fantasy about an alien who landed on the Earth 400 years ago and falls in love with a top actress in the modern days. Everything that the female protagonist Jun Ji-hyun has worn in the show has seen an unprecedented surge in orders in China, among which the YSL Rouge Pur Conture #52 is the most sought-after product.

The article was originally published on China Info 24 on November 2, 2016.

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