Wonder Woman Makeup: Awesome or Kinda Sexist?

Friday means many things to many people. For some– Oh, we’re not doing that column? Sorry!

iFanboy gets tons and tons of emails for their letter column. On a rare occasion, a question comes in that’s a bit outside the guys’ wheelhouse. So as Head Wonder Woman Fangirl/Assistant Copywriter here at iFancorp, they asked me to step in and answer. 

Hi guys!

Here's some totally random and girly news for you to share with the iFanbase: DC has partnered with MAC cosmetics on a special collection of Wonder Woman products. (Here's a link to the official website and another link to the animated comic.) For the most part, it's a fun campaign and I look forward to incorporating it into my WW costume this July. (I purchased a nail polish, lipstick, and mirror.)

Still, another part of me is annoyed with the message that any girl without make-up is a "plain Jane." It's easy to see why Wonder Woman can be such a polarizing figure for women, especially now that she's claiming "MAC makes beauty the ultimate power!" (Umm… I always thought it was brains, or at least a combination of the two.) It's the same problem I face wearing the costume–I feel like a superhero in it but the world seems to just see WW as either sexy or sexist. A bright red lipstick may not diminish the stereotype, but at least it may bring eyes upward… What do you guys think about this promotion and all the recent Wonder Woman news?

Megan (AbeFroman)

First things first, thanks to Megan for sending in such a great question! Also, she has probably my favorite user name on this site.

On one hand, this makes perfect sense. MAC is marketing their products to women. They have a bold and dramatic line of cosmetics so leveraging Wonder Woman as a beautiful and powerful goddess is a perfect. And a good majority of people won’t give it a second thought. Heck, there’s part of me that's excited their using WW to market anything. I feel like she’s been conspicuously absent from a lot of the larger, mass-market DC-licensed product marketing initiatives. Last fall Superman, Batman, The Flash and Green Lantern all had their “own” Hostess products on the shelves. Not Wonder Woman! Does Hostess think that only boys eat Twinkies?! What kind of message does that send to girls? (Grrr). 

Back to the MAC thing. They’re a business selling products to women. Like any business, they want to make money. So their using the message of “Buy our products and you’ll be beautiful like Wonder Woman.” It’s slightly better than Victoria’s Secret message of “Buy our product so your significant other will drool over you the way he’s drooling over Heidi Klum right now.” This really isn’t anything new as far as advertising and sexism goes. We all know sex sells. Men are objectified to sell products as well. But, like the Women in Refrigerators argument, it’s done a lot more often with women, and women are typically being dominated more than they’re being empowered. So on the other hand, it is sexist.

All that said, I’ll still end up buying a couple items from this collection. Probably the same ones as Megan – a lip gloss and a nail polish or two (which is honestly the only make-up I wear with any regularity) and maybe a mirror or a makeup bag for the Wonder Woman logo. I’ll buy these because I love Wonder Woman, and because there’s a strong sense of nostalgia I feel when I see the character. I’m sure MAC is banking on that to sell these products as well.

Wonder Woman, as a character and a pop culture figure, has always been a bit of a contradiction for these reasons. But I think that’s true for all superheroes regardless of gender – you’ll be hard-pressed to find someone in tights and a cape that doesn’t have an idealized body. So it comes down to how they’re portrayed and how people view them. Obviously, a Wonder Woman who gets tied up frequently or spends all her time crying about Steve Trevor while she’s running around in a skimpy costume is a sexist version of the character. But she’s not portrayed that way, and that’s hardly a version of her people think about. Yes, Wonder Woman is gorgeous and sexy, but more importantly she’s incredibly smart and powerful and inspiring, no matter what she’s wearing. That’s why people love her.


Ali Colluccio still spins in a circle and pretends she’s Wonder Woman. What? You can listen to her rant about WW on the Invisible Jetcast or follow her on the Twitterz.


  1. My wife (quite possibly the most empowered woman I’ve ever met) saw these the other day and said, “cool.”

  2. The only superhero I can think of with a non-idealized body is Bouncing Boy.

  3. seems to me that anyone who’s really going to get bent out of shape over WW makeup is someone who hates makeup in general for the same reasons you laid out. There is no pleasing those types!

    @Bryce31  — ironically enough if you follow that “only cosplay characters that fits your body type” rule, Bouncing Boy should be the most frequently seen at every con! HAR HAR. 

  4. Is it awesome or kind of sexist that only a woman can answer this question? 🙂

    Joking aside, great answer/follow up Ali. I think the ad campaign is pretty cool and I don’t see it as sexist. Although I can see where some people might get that idea.

  5. I think MAC’s point of view and voice is very far from the traditional “buy our products and you’ll be beautiful” campaigns that most mainstream cosmetics companies trot out.  Think of the ads you see on television and in ads for Revlon, Maybelline and the like – the focus is almost always on “looking flawless” or “you can’t guess her age” or something similar.  It’s always about hiding wrinkles and imperfections and complementing your skin tone and all that garbage.  MAC is mostly about being bold, theatrical and expressive. 

    I rarely wear make up as it is because a. I am lazy b. I never really learned how to apply it and c. I am against an industry that so thoroughly exploits animals, HOWEVER I feel like MAC’s ad campaigns are the ones I can usually get behind.  I don’t appreciate the implication that women without make up are “plain janes,” but I don’t think it is meant to be taken as “if you don’t wear this you aren’t sexy.”  I think it’s more about being bold and glamorous and indulgent and ridiculous, which I can feel because that’s usually how I dress.   As a woman, I’m really not offended by this campaign and I dig the packaging and marketing of the WW stuff.  WW is not the only woman to get this treatment, either – they did a line of DIsney villainness characters’ thematic colors, also, earlier this year.  I didn’t buy that and I won’t buy this  (because I couldn’t tell you the last time I bought a lick of make up at all) but I think the idea is kind of cool. 

    For the record – “those types” of women who hate being objectified deserve to be displeased until objectification comes to an end.  For both genders. 

  6. Are we completely ignoring the fact that Mike Allred did the art for this promotion? I walked by one of these stores at my local mall, and they’ve plastered the art  all over their windows. The only thing better than Allred art is floor to ceiling Allred art.

  7. There’s obviously a market for these or else they wouldn’t make them. I don’t see this as sexist at all. Do super hero underoos make Hanes pedophiles?

  8. Thanks for responding to my email! I love Ali’s argument that, “Wonder Woman is gorgeous and sexy, but more importantly she’s incredibly smart and powerful and inspiring, no matter what she’s wearing.” But then I saw the TV costume reveal on this thread and had to disagree…

  9. If there’s a group of people anywhere who shouldn’t see “Plain Janes” as an insult, it’s the folks on this site. 🙂

  10. My first thought when it came out was “cool” because at least female geeks were being acknowledged a little. After seeing pictures of the line, I wasn’t that impressed. It looked lame. Then it was tried by my friend and the color was all wrong. It didn’t look like the color it claimed to be. I tested it at the store and the lip glosses were goopy and the colors were just eh. The only thing worth considering getting was the eyeliner because I tried it on my hand and it took two days of repeated washings before it went away.

    I give MAC and DC credit for attempting to market to women, they could’ve done better and the only sexist thing I find with it is they didn’t do a good enough job. It feels like so much effort goes into products targeted to men, like the action figures or costumes, but when it’s to women, it’s a slutty costume or something made excessively “girly” or just half assed. Seriously, just look at some of the products in the line. The makeup bag is just a metallic colored bag with a Wonder Woman tag. It’s cheap. There’s just a general feeling of it being a cheap collection and that’s what women are supposed to buy? Just because it has Wonder Woman on it? This line should have represented Wonder Woman’s power and beauty instead of using her as a cheap marketing ploy. Needless to say, it’s left me feeling conflicted.

  11. Alright so I am late getting to this party but… Oh… the rage. ::sighs:: Alright first off let me preface this- clearly by my screen name I am a DC fan especially the female characters. When I was growing up they just had more meterial than Marvel so I’m pretty loyal. (Marvel you get props but thats not the point here.)

    Also while I am not practicing I hold a licence with my state as both an Esthetician and Make-up artist… fairly girly while my trade I do free lance character design for comics and animation, pretty damn geeky. 

    I heard there was a WW Cosmetic Line coming out and I fangirled so hard I needed a cigarette… not being gross just saying. Diana is EVERYTHING a young girl could want to look up to she RARELY wares make-up and prefers to be a more “natural” beauty. She doesn’t dress to excite men or entice them. Her original uniform was made from the “banner of a fallen sister not born on these shores” (It was an American Flag… yeah.. we know). Inpractical as it may be there is a LOT of History in her look but I could geek out on that all day.

    Diana like many DC broads sure she has a man sniffing around but it’s not her focus. She’s smart, she’s kind, and she’s 6’0” really she has everything. So a makeup line that reflects Diana should be just that. Sophisticated, strong, no nonsence and kick ass.

    …Mac gave us 20-30 somethings products that look no different than the mattels “My First Make Up” kit we got when we were 6 except it’s not Barbie. It’s WW. ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?

    1: Do I want to spend THAT much money on even the MIRROR with it’s cheap looking case when I was hoping for a silver compact with the WW logo done in raised or etched gold tone faux? No. No I don’t. I want a WW Make up line that for a breif moment of my soul sucked life I get to feel like I’m the amazon princess working my day job with a date with Batman later. (Screw anyone who says I’m sexist look at what saying, google image and enjoy the LOLs.)

    2: 99% of my male friends are gay.. and many of them drag queens. I swear Friday night it’s like Batman & Robin all up in here (bad puns, bad outfits, and way too much make up on the bitnich with the wig). And there are two icons for most of them: Lynda Carter as WW and Mac Cosmetics.

    3: The product is… awful. The pigmint isn’t matched right and the colours that “go together” in sets sort of don’t (you do not put a red based violet next to a blue based plum!).. and on top of it the packaging is… cheesy. Seriously. The “Firefly” line by Urban Decay was put together so much better and they are a small time brand compaired to Mac.

    4: Also. Mac is THE go to #1 brand for Drag Queens and MTF Transexuals/Transgender folk. The reason is high strong pigmentation little blead threw and the rougher/oiler skin those with testosterone naturally have. (most MTFs once they are on their HRT leave makeup to work on their skin and then find a more subtle line… most. not all. and not dissing the trans community I love them. <3 just giving you info).

    5: This brings me to the 5th point… YOU SAYIN’ THAT DIANA HAS NIBBLY BITS BELOW THE GIRDLE!?   No. not all people who buy Mac are on the LGBTQQIAS spectrum, you can have a vajayjay and buy mac but in popular counter culture Mac + Wonder Woman= DRAG QUEEN. 
    So yaaaay to DC for promoting the queer movement! YAAAY!!! (as a lady who likes ladies seriously, thank you!) but when you actually DO go ahead and release an ADULT line that I wouldn’t mind putting in my $350 hand bag? Please give me a call. Until then I’m sticking with Smashbox and Urban Decay. They are a lot cheaper but at least I don’t look like I’m turning tricks.


  12. I’m not really okay with Wonder Woman advertising make-up, but then I’m one of those people who’s difficult to please. I think Wonder Woman as a character has potential that DC almost consistantly fails to ‘get’. Then again I’m probably just projecting my views on to this fictional character.
    I’ve got nothing against make-up per se, I used to wear a bit of eyeliner meself, but there’s something disconcertingly ‘throw back’ and dictatorial about the way it’s advertised. I’m a feminist too so that doesn’t help!

    This is using WW as the retro icon to sell retro-chic make-up to the mass market of people who probably don’t read comics but know who Linda Carter is.