Does the beauty industry hate women? I've been saying so for years. The fact that L'Oreal is being sued for attempting to fire a saleswoman in California for not being "hot" enough only confirms it for me yet again.
It was not the kind of order that Elysa Yanowitz, a regional sales manager for a giant cosmetics company, was used to hearing.
After a top executive of her company, L'Oreal, visited the perfume department of a Macys store in San Jose, she said, he ordered her to fire a saleswoman for not being sexy enough.
In court papers, Ms. Yanowitz said his words were: "Get me somebody hot."
A few weeks later when the executive, John Wiswall, General Manager of L'Oreal's designer fragrance division, again visited the store, he discovered that she had not dismissed the saleswoman and, Ms. Yanowitz said, he told her: "Didnt I tell you to get rid of her?"
Later, Ms. Yanowitz said in a sworn statement, as the two passed an attractive blonde woman, Mr. Wiswall said: "Get me one that looks like that."
An industry that thrives on making women feel insecure and inadequate apparently extends its abuse to its own employees. When Yanowitz refused to fire the woman - of Middle-Eastern descent and a top saleswoman for the region - she was systematically made miserable in her job and eventually forced to leave. She is suing for sexual harassment.
This case goes to an important core of the beauty industry: the one that promotes unattainable ideals and sabotages self-esteem. If he thinks like the rest of the beauty industrys male leaders, that L'Oreal executive presumably wanted a "hot" woman behind the counter to make potential customers feel less attractive by comparison and drive more sales. The thinking here - that women can be played off of one another in a pathetic competition of insecurity and consumption - should insult any half-intelligent woman.
More power to Ms. Yanowitz. Even if she doesn't win, she has helped shed another, valuable light on the grotesque inner workings of an industry hell-bent on making women feel inferior.