Why We Need Kitschy Novelty Makeup More Than Ever

Like 7-Eleven's "Simply Me Beauty"

Last week, 7-Eleven announced it was releasing something I had no idea I needed until now: a makeup line. Currently stocked in American 7-Eleven stores, all products in the line, called Simply Me Beauty, come in at under $5 USD and span 40 products, ranging from mascara to BB cream to assorted lip colours. The line is being described as a natural extension of the chain’s ethos.

“Convenience isn’t always just about a quick stop for something to eat and drink,” explained 7-Eleven Senior Vice President of Merchandising. “We believe that for many, this top-quality line of cosmetics and cosmetic accessories can become regular purchases in addition to fill-in stops.”

Which, like, fair. If KFC can launch its own bath bomb and Pizza Hut can release its own perfume, then why can’t 7-Eleven branch out and extend its reach to include cosmetics? And more importantly, why wouldn’t we take solace in the random banana-ness of novelty makeup and beauty products? The world is a vampire and I’m here to ring out the last remnants of fun before we collapse in on ourselves in a burst of presidential tweets.

Our introductions to makeup and beauty are usually rooted in fun: we play with our mom’s lipsticks, have dress-up days with our aunts and grandmas, and equate makeup application to holidays like Halloween. Then, when we begin to experiment with beauty in our own right, it’s through avenues of glitter and pink Hello Kitty lip gloss (see: my signature look in 1998). In eighth grade, my first “real” makeup purchase was Dr. Pepper tinted lip balm I loved because it was modelled after soda pop. Makeup wasn’t about camouflage or caving to the pressure of looking a certain way; for a little while, it was about self-expression and independence and joy. Then, pre-pubescence gives way to insecurities, reconciling the male gaze, and fleeting self-esteem. And our relationship with makeup shifts dramatically.

Novelty cosmetics and beauty products are like a quick trip back to that precious naivety. We don’t “need” them, we can’t justify them, and they make absolutely zero sense. We need KFC bath bombs the way I needed to collect every Bonne Bell lip balm: I didn’t. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have a place. We grew up under the impression that makeup got to be fun; that it could be ritualistic, exciting, a means of adjusting and re-adjusting our aesthetic to suit a time or a place or an event or holiday. And while we grew out of that way of thinking, it doesn’t mean we can’t make space for it again.

Everything right now is difficult. We are stressed out, tired, and pushed to the brink. Escapism is necessary in ensuring we don’t melt down and lose ourselves. And sometimes, that escapism gets to be 7-Eleven makeup or Pizza Hut perfume or any number of novelty beauty products we tell ourselves we’re past or beyond or immune to caring about. Sometimes, we get to resurrect the mindset of our younger selves who believed everything that glittered was gold.