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Archive for June, 2013

Ok. I have to rant for just a sec.

I work in a shop that sometimes gets door-to-door people in trying to market whatever they’re selling, and one day, some guy confidently came in with a question for me. “You’re a girl, so you must love makeup, right?”

I bit my tongue on most of what I wanted to say: that I’m a woman and not a child, that just because I’m female doesn’t make me genetically predisposed to love makeup, that I really don’t think there’s anything wrong with how I look currently that needs fixing, that my health is far more important to me than smearing carcinogens on my face every day is, that honestly, I like sleep much more than spending extra time on my appearance in the morning, and that anyone shallow enough to judge me on how I look or my choice to not use makeup doesn’t deserve the privilege of being a meaningful part of my life. I just merely replied that I don’t wear makeup because so much of it has so many terrible chemicals in it.

“But everything we carry is all natural!”

Not interested, thanks.

I can’t possibly roll my eyes back far enough in my head. All natural, huh? Yeah, sure it is.

I’m so tired of the phrase “all-natural” being touted (at least in the US anyway) as synonymous with “safe,” “healthy,” and “non-toxic.” Really tired of it.

Just because something is all-natural doesn’t mean it is safe, healthy, or non-toxic. All it means is that something is labeled as having been made from ingredients found in our natural world, and it doesn’t even mean that label has to be telling the truth if it’s outside the purview of the FDA. That doesn’t make them safe. Actually, legally that term (from solely a food standpoint, anyway) doesn’t really mean anything. Here’s what the FDA’s website has to say about the matter:

What is the meaning of ‘natural’ on the label of food?

From a food science perspective, it is difficult to define a food product that is ‘natural’ because the food has probably been processed and is no longer the product of the earth. That said, FDA has not developed a definition for use of the term natural or its derivatives. However, the agency has not objected to the use of the term if the food does not contain added color, artificial flavors, or synthetic substances.

Now this is all murky enough when it comes to food, but even more so when considering cosmetics, cleaning supplies, toys, food storage containers, clothing, and other things we come in close contact with for extended periods of time that can effect our health but that are outside of the domain of the FDA . Technically, lead is all-natural, mercury is all-natural, arsenic is all-natural, and the list goes on and on. None of these things are safe. I don’t want stuff like that in things I come in contact with. Heck, jalapenos are all-natural, but I still don’t want them in my face cream.

I’m not saying I want to live in a bubble. I don’t. I’m not even sure it’s possible to avoid everything I want to avoid. But as long as lead is still an ingredient in lipstick, but it’s still ok to be called “all-natural,” I think there’s a problem. To me, this isn’t about disclosure of ingredients on labels (because who knows what all those chemical names in cosmetics are anyway?), it’s about not putting toxic or potentially toxic ingredients in stuff in the first place. And about not conflating the label all-natural with safe.

I think the Story of Stuff sums it up a little better than my currently angry, emotional self can:

And the next over-confident, condescending, horrifyingly sexist guy to come in trying to sell their new makeup going to get an earful from me. 🙂

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