Moroccanoil recently announced the famous face of its #InspiredByWomen campaign, 27-year-old English lingerie model, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley best known by Victoria’s Secret.
The tagline of its campaign reads, INSPIRED: A Series that discovers beauty through inspiration. Since its inception, the popularity of Moroccanoil—a nutrient-rich, Vitamin-E-infused antioxidant to replenish hair and skin—has grown beyond the borders of Morocco (though the particular brand was founded in Israel) and into the cosmetic cabinets of the Western world. Moroccanoil has thrived at the forefront of the media landscape stretching most corners of the world.
Its INSPIRED series has yet to discover, however, “beauty through inspiration” in just one corner of the world—in fact, the only place in the world where Moroccanoil’s key ingredient is endemic—that is the Argan forests of the Moroccan southwest, so rare to the region that UNESCO has designated it a Bioshere Reserve for its Argan recognized as “Liquid Gold.”
The Argan forest provides a living for about three million people, 2.2 million of whom are in rural areas. Atthe Marjana Co-Operative Project along the road between the tourism capital, Marrakech, and fishing town, Essaouira, widowed, divorced and domestically abused women find educational and childcare benefits, a roof over their heads and financial independence.
Inside the isolated building, women sit on bright Berber rugs doing their daily grind. The intensive process requires approximately 50 kilos of Argan nuts and about 20 hours of work to produce just half a liter of the finished oil. First the nut is husked from its dark shell by being cracked between two large rocks. The smooth caramel colored pits are then ground into a paste, kneaded or pressed with water to extract the oil. After decanting and filtering, the oil is ready. Marjana women work completely by hand without mechanical presses adopted by Western operations.
I spent time with one woman at the cooperative. Her drab hair was pasted to her neck with sweat. Among gray curls, gold tresses peaked through revealing her youth— lost from labor. Her skin was a russet color and her palms a pallid pigment, though one was tinted cherry from the strain of her fingers as she worked, cracking each kernel. Neither her hair nor skin has had the chance to reap Argan’s benefits like Rosie Huntington’s. But her strength of mind and resilience to be her own best and independently support herself is truly the “beauty through inspiration” to which Moroccanoil’s campaign has paid no mind. And thus the Western world knows little of it. Rather we’re sales-hypnotized consumers spellbound by the blonde Victoria’s Secret model whom we’re aspiring to look like with Argan-instilled products.
Moroccanoil is the pioneer and industry leader of luxury oil-infused hair care and bodycare products. The company can afford to bring in Huntington to promote its products. Yes, Huntington is beautiful and, yes, her skin and hair are evidence of Moroccanoil’s efficacy. That is the sole purpose of a marketing campaign, and it makes sense.
But perhaps an already-lucrative cosmetic company like Moroccanoil that can afford a famous face should take the first step in defining beauty by more than long, blonde hair and blemish-free skin. We’re in an era when an entire culture of blogs, ad campaigns and as-is selfies are screaming that we are enticed to products for reasons beyond our looks—we’re drawn to the strength of mind and resilience of the women who are at the core of Moroccanoil’s production, but ignored.
Perhaps the more important message Moroccanoil should promote is to be the best you—like the Marjana woman.
Huntington, a successful, career-minded 27-year-old said it herself in a press release. She said, “I realized early on that nothing lasts forever, especially as a model—you have to build something for yourself from it. Looks go and you fade. Modeling is short lived.”
She is no different than the Berber woman—both hard-working to support themselves. That is what makes her both beautiful and inspiring.