When you think of cosmetics spokeswomen, odds are you think of Drew Barrymore, Claudia Schiffer and Cindy Crawford. You probably don’t think of tomboyish, openly gay talk show hosts. But that’s exactly what we think makes the selection of Ellen DeGeneres as the new Cover Girl celebrity spokesperson so wonderful. In our book, The Beauty Prescription, we center our message around the idea that beauty comes as much from within—from personal magnetism and self-love—as from the face or body. But that’s hard to swallow when you see the entertainment media all agog over the latest pretty face and sexy figure while ignoring women of real substance and intelligence.
Enter Ellen. Exit, at least for the time being, shallow perceptions of what makes a woman beautiful. Because by Hollywood’s typical standards, Ellen DeGeneres is not a glamour girl. She doesn’t have Kiera Knightley cheekbones or J-Lo curves. She wears mannish clothes and a boyish haircut. In fact, her new wife, Portia Di Rossi, fits the “beautiful” stereotype much better than Ellen. But it’s what Ellen does have that makes us so delighted with her Cover Girl selection: a tremendously likable quality—an inner beauty—that makes everyone, men and women, want to hug her and take her home to be our cool big sister. She has charisma and charm and humor and self-confidence in ample supply, and she comes across as someone who’s 100% real and happy with who and what she is. You know from watching her daytime talk show that she’s going to approach her Cover Girl gig the way she does everything else: with wit and self-deprecating humor and perspective.
Yes, Ellen DeGeneres is what we would call magnetic. She’s someone who attracts the attention of others not just based on how she looks but on who she is. She’s hysterically funny and genuine and down-to-earth and passionate and courageous (how many other celebrities would have “come out” while they had a TV series running, as she did a few years back?). As a result, we’re drawn to her total beauty. And it doesn’t hurt that she’s got great skin, too.
Does the selection of Ellen into the equivalent of the makeup Hall of Fame mean we’ve lost our cultural fascination with the perfect 10 face and figure? Hardly. It’s a momentary blip; we’re still hypnotized by raw physical beauty, especially in women. But it’s a hopeful sign that cosmetics companies, at the very least, are beginning to understand that their customers are by and large real women, not fantasy Barbie dolls, and that it’s OK for their spokeswomen to look real as well.